What to do after a hit and run in Washington

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If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run in Washington, your annual full coverage car insurance premium could go up by as much as 90%, on average—even if you weren’t at fault, according to data pulled from Quadrant Information Services. If you are the driver who fled the scene, you could be charged with a misdemeanor and have your license suspended or revoked — and will likely see your car insurance costs go sky-high.

Hit-and-runs in Washington

In Washington, drivers are required to remain at the scene of an accident. And fortunately, most people seem to abide by the law. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that Washington was one of the lowest-ranked states regarding hit-and-run fatalities per 100,000 people.

Even so, Washington saw an average of 18 hit-and-run fatalities per year between 2012 and 2016 (the most recent year for which AAA has published data). To help that number get closer to zero, all drivers should understand Washington’s hit-and-run laws.

Washington hit-and-run laws

The applicable hit-and-run Washington statute here is Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.52.020. It specifically says that if a driver injures a person or damages a vehicle, that driver is legally required to stop, exchange information and provide any necessary assistance, including getting any injured people medical care. Failing to do all of this can get you charged with a misdemeanor.

If you break the Washington hit-and-run law, your license can be revoked for up to one year. And when you can drive again, you should expect some challenges with your car insurance company. After a hit-and-run in Washington, insurance gets harder to come by and significantly more expensive, as you will now be considered a high-risk driver.

How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in Washington

Although there is no such thing as hit-and-run insurance, there are multiple types of auto insurance coverage that can help protect you if you are the victim of a hit-and-run, including collision coverage. Your premiums are likely to increase after a hit-and-run accident, however, even if you are not at fault.

If you are the hit-and-run driver, you might need an SR-22 if you are convicted for leaving the scene of an accident. Your insurance provider will let you know what you need to do to maintain coverage, though, so your primary concern is probably figuring out how much you will need to pay for car insurance after a hit-and-run.

Average annual full coverage premiums before and after a hit-and-run accident
Before a hit-and-run After a hit-and-run After a standard accident
Washington average $1,176 $2,240 $1,733
National average $1,674 $3,367 $2,405

Four things to do after a hit-and-run in Washington

What to do after a hit-and-run in Washington does not differ much from any other type of accident. While it might be tempting to chase after a fleeing driver, stay put, or you risk violating Washington’s hit-and-run law. Instead, do these things:

  • Get everyone safe. The first thing you should do is check on all people involved in the accident. If it is safe to do so, move everyone out of the flow of traffic and relocate any vehicles to the side of the road. If anyone needs medical attention, call 911 to get emergency care sent to your location.
  • Call the police. After a hit-and-run in Washington, you will probably want to get law enforcement involved because they give you the best chance of locating the driver who fled and can document the scene. If you did not already call 911 for medical care, call them now to dispatch an officer to the scene.
  • Jot down what you remember. While everything is still fresh (and, likely, while you wait for the police to arrive), make notes on any details you can remember. For example, if you can recall, write down the hit-and-run driver’s license plate number, their vehicle’s make and model and any other details that could help the police find them. If there are passengers in your vehicle or witnesses still on the scene, it can be helpful to write down any details they can remember, too. You may also want to take pictures of the scene and any damage to your vehicle.
  • Start your insurance claim. You should be able to get your insurance claim started right away by either calling your insurance provider or starting it on their app or on their website, which you should be able to access from your phone. The sooner you get your claim started, the sooner you will receive compensation for any covered losses.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

Ideally, the police will be able to locate the driver. At that point after the hit-and-run, Washington insurance is fairly straightforward. You use the at-fault driver’s liability insurance — which the state requires all drivers to carry — to cover medical expenses and repairs or a replacement for your vehicle, up to their policy limits.

But if the other driver cannot be located, or if the other driver does not have insurance, things get a bit more complicated. At that point, your options will depend on which optional coverages you carry. You generally have two options:

  • Uninsured motorist coverage. If you chose to add this coverage type to your policy, it steps in after a hit-and-run. Just like liability coverage, there are two types of uninsured motorist coverage: bodily injury, which helps with resulting medical expenses, and property damage, which helps to repair your vehicle. Generally, you will not need to worry about a hit-and-run deductible (meaning no out-of-pocket expense for you) with uninsured motorist coverage.
  • Collision coverage. If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, this type of insurance can help repair your car or replace it if it was totaled. But collision coverage does come with a deductible, which will be deducted from any claim the insurance company pays out.

Frequently asked questions

How much does car insurance cost?

In the Evergreen state, car insurance is generally fairly affordable. Average drivers pay about $1,200 annually for full coverage car insurance, including the optional uninsured motorist and collision coverage we mentioned before. But after a hit-and-run, the same insurance policy in Washington insurance costs roughly $1,000 more, leaving average drivers with premiums of more than $2,200.

Is it a hit-and-run if I hit a parked car?

Yes. The relevant hit-and-run Washington statute, RCW 46.52.010, says you need to stop and try to find the affected driver. You have a legal responsibility to leave a note on the car you hit with your information if you cannot.

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
Kacie Goff
Personal Finance Contributor
Kacie Goff is a personal finance and insurance writer with over seven years of experience covering personal and commercial coverage options. She writes for Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, NextAdvisor, Varo Money, Coverage, Best Credit Cards and more. She's covered a broad range of policy types — including less-talked-about coverages like wrap insurance and E&O — and she specializes in auto, homeowners and life insurance.
Edited by
Insurance Editor