What to do after a hit-and-run in Washington, D.C.

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The small 68 square miles of Washington, D.C. are bursting with the busy hustle and bustle of D.C. residents, many of whom walk and bike to work or use the Metro in lieu of the city’s too-often gridlocked streets. The high volume of pedestrian traffic is one reason for the city’s stricter laws regarding hit-and-runs. It is a reason why drivers in Washington, D.C., are held to strict auto insurance standards.

Hit-and-runs in Washington, D.C.

Hit-and-runs in the District of Columbia are formally called leaving after colliding, and unfortunately, are too common. Despite the District’s small size, data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data shows that in 2019, there were 22 fatal crashes in D.C. and 23 deaths for an overall rate of 0.61 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The most deaths were pedestrians, accounting for 39% of total deaths from single-vehicle crashes.

According to Bankrate 2021 data, Washington, D.C. ranks ninth in the country for the most uninsured drivers. This presents an additional risk for D.C. drivers who risk financial devastation when they do not have adequate insurance coverage to help with losses when there is an accident.

Washington, D.C. hit-and-run laws

Just leaving the scene of an accident is considered a misdemeanor, according to Washington, D.C. law, § 50–2201.05c. If this is your first offense, you could face up to 180 days in jail or up to $1,000 in fines. After your second offense, you may receive up to $2,500 in penalties and up to one year in jail.

There are additional scenarios for penalty under D.C. law:

  • Leaving after causing personal injury: If another motorist is injured and a driver fails to remain at the scene to contact emergency personnel, that driver can be subject to substantial fines and up to 180 days in jail.
  • Leaving after causing property damage: If a driver leaves the scene and abandons damaged property, the driver can be fined and incarcerated for 30 days.

Depending on the severity of the accident, additional penalties may apply.

How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in Washington, D.C.

A hit-and-run can impact your car insurance rates in several ways. SR-22 insurance is one requirement for drivers who are deemed high risk. This could be because of a past hit-and-run or a license suspension. Regardless of the reason, an SR-22 certificate indicates that you carry at least the minimum auto insurance required for Washington, D.C.

Several factors impact how much your auto insurance rates will increase, such as the severity of the accident, your driving record and your insurer. Bankrate’s data from Quadrant Information Services shows that at-fault accidents can increase your insurance rates by 38% for the average driver. For hit-and-runs specifically, you could experience rates nearly $1,000 more than the standard accident.

Average annual full coverage premiums

Before a hit-and-run After a hit-and-run After a standard accident
Washington, D.C. average $1,855 $2,854 $2,373
National average $1,674 $3,367 $2,405

5 things to do after a hit-and-run in Washington, D.C.

If you are involved in a hit-and-run in Washington, D.C., there are steps to take:

  1. Park your car. As soon as it is safe to do so, pull over and find a place to park.
  2. Record details. To help with the police and insurance reports, try to remember any relevant details, such as a license plate or vehicle description of the offending vehicle.
  3. Call the police. Immediately call the police to report the hit-and-run, as well as any injuries or property damage. Washington, D.C. provides a full listing of Metropolitan Police Department contacts.
  4. Document the damage. Be sure to document any damage with photos and video that you can submit to the police and your insurance company.
  5. Contact your insurance company. Report the hit-and-run to your insurance company and start the claims process. You will likely need to provide a copy of the police report for your claim.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

There are several types of car insurance coverage that may help if you are in a hit-and-run accident:

  • Collision coverage: If your vehicle sustains damages from the hit-and-run, your collision coverage can help pay for those damages regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage: You may benefit from uninsured motorist property damage, which can help protect you if you find yourself the victim of a hit-and-run with damages from another driver.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP is an optional coverage in D.C., but it can help pay for medical expenses incurred from an accident if it is on your policy.

To decide which coverage is best for you, talk to an insurance agent about your specific needs for your policy based on Washington, D.C. car insurance laws.

Frequently asked questions

How much does car insurance cost?

The national average cost of car insurance in 2021 is $1,674 per year for full coverage auto insurance or $139.50 per month. The average cost of car insurance in Washington, D.C., is $1,855 per year for full coverage, or $154.60 per month.

How common are hit-and-runs?

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 682,000 hit-and-run accidents occur annually.

How can I lower my auto insurance rates after an accident?

To lower your car insurance premiums, be sure to find and compare auto insurance quotes from the top insurers. It also helps to improve your credit score and increase your deductible, although this will mean that you will have to pay more upfront should you experience a loss.

Another way to save is to review the best car insurance companies that combine great car insurance discounts with affordable coverage.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.

Written by
Lena Borrelli
Insurance Contributor
Lena Muhtadi Borrelli has several years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as allconnect, Healthline and Reviews.com. She previously worked for Morgan Stanley.
Edited by
Senior Insurance Editor