Does uninsured/underinsured insurance cover hit and run accidents?
The short answer is “yes.” However, there are special rules governing hit and run claims.
The first question is whether it’s a true hit and run. Just because the other driver fails to stop doesn’t make the case a “hit and run” case for uninsured/underinsured coverage purposes. If you are able to track down the other driver down (for example, through a license plate or witnesses), then it’s not a “hit and run” driver, and the special rules don’t apply.
If you can’t track the other driver down, then your uninsured/underinsured coverage does apply, but it is subject to the contact rule: before the coverage kicks in, there must be contact between your car and the driver that takes off. If a driver runs you off the road, but there is no contact between the vehicles, then the coverage doesn’t kick in.
Applying the contact rule can be a little tricky. First, courts have found that indirect contact (for example, the hit and run driver hits car “A” which causes car “A” to hit you) is sufficient to trigger the coverage.
Courts have also been clear that you have to contact the vehicle itself. Courts have held that hitting a load that falls off a vehicle isn’t enough to trigger coverage. In another ridiculous decision, the Supreme Court even held that your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage isn’t triggered when an axle (or other part of a vehicle) falls off and hits your car.
So the short answer is “yes,” uninsured/underinsured insurance will cover hit and run accidents if the contact rule is met.
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