Understanding hit and run coverage

Reviewed by Daniel Mirkovic

Updated May 17, 2024

Having your car involved in a hit and run is never ideal. With no one to hold accountable, you’re left with so many questions. However, there’s one question which is probably of most concern: will my insurance cover the damage?

The good news is that car insurance often includes hit and run coverage, at least to an extent. Keep reading to learn about what those coverages are, what they protect, and whether filing a hit and run claim will affect your insurance premium.

An old grey sedan with with severe damage to the front fender and headlight

What is a hit and run?

Hit and run laws and definitions can vary across provinces in Canada. Although this article focuses specifically on Ontario’s regulations, the general idea is the same in each province.

A hit and run occurs when a driver involved in a car collision flees the scene. Specifically, they do so without exchanging information with the other drivers involved. The law requires that all drivers stay at the site of the accident, regardless of who is at fault. In fact, not doing so is a crime and anyone who is caught fleeing will face the appropriate penalties, which can range from fines to imprisonment.

Drivers flee accidents for various (although not legally valid) reasons — some more concerning than others. For instance, they might be ashamed and trying to avoid an argument. In other cases, they could be uninsured, driving without a license, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. At this point, it’s essentially a gamble — face the consequences or hope to never get caught.

Fortunately, if you have car insurance, you’re likely protected from a hit and run to an extent. Let’s discuss how the coverages on your policy come into play in these scenarios.

How does hit and run coverage work?

Car insurance works to make sure you’re not left financially stranded in the aftermath of a collision. That’s why it’s mandatory — you can’t legally drive without it.

With that said, Ontario operates under a no-fault insurance system. That means regardless of who caused the accident, your insurer is the one responsible for covering your damages, up to the limits specified on your policy (known as DCPD coverage).This is different from some other jurisdictions, where you’ll file a claim against the other driver’s insurance.

Hit and run coverage isn’t a standalone option. In Ontario, it’s part of optional damage coverages such as collision. If you have collision coverage, your insurer will cover the damages and repair costs resulting from the hit and run. There are only a few caveats to note however (such as paying a deductible with collision coverage), but we’ll discuss these below.

What coverages include hit and run damage protection?

There are three coverages that can help with a hit and run claim:

All perils coverage is optional, and is the broadest form of car insurance you can get. It essentially bundles collision coverage and comprehensive coverage together, with expanded theft coverage on top of that, to protect you against the widest range of risks. Basically, it covers almost any damage to you or your car, with some exceptions which may be listed in your policy.

Collision coverage is also optional, and covers only the damage that your car suffers from getting hit by another vehicle or when there is no identifiable at-fault driver (a hit and run).

Your insurer will cover the costs to repair or replace your car up to a certain limit — typically your car’s actual cash value. But before that kicks in, you’ll have to pay your deductible amount first. The deductible is the amount you agreed to pay after filing a claim before your policy covers the rest. So, if, for example, your car costs $5,000 to repair and you selected a deductible of $1,000, you’ll pay $1,000 and your insurer will pay the remaining $4,000.

If you’re wondering why your insurer can’t just pay the full amount, it’s because with a hit and run they have no other insurer or individual to settle the claim with. The driver that hit your car never stopped to share their insurance information. So, that leaves your insurer with the responsibility to bear all the costs.

In the event that an uninsured, underinsured, or unidentified driver injures you in any way, you’ll be reimbursed through Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM). Car insurance policies in every province include this as mandatory coverage, with the exception of Alberta. After a hit and run, you’ll be able to claim accident benefits to help pay for any resulting medical bills, lost wages, funeral costs, or related expenses you incur. For most people, this is a true lifesaver. If there are grave or lifelong injuries, particularly ones requiring serious investment, you’ll be saved from paying out of pocket.

In Ontario, all auto policies have a minimum UM limit of $200,000. This is the maximum amount your insurer will cover you for when you file a hit and run claim. You can request a higher amount if you believe you face greater risks — like if you drive your car in a high-traffic city.

Ontario drivers also have access to Family Protection Endorsement. (This is an optional add-on to your policy that allows you to use your own third-party liability limit if the at-fault (or unidentified) party doesn’t have sufficient liability insurance to cover the costs for which they’re liable. That includes underinsured drivers, as well as those who are uninsured or unidentified. Obviously, adding extra protection against underinsured drivers will leave you with a better peace of mind, and it’s highly recommended — for good reason. The good news is that it won’t increase your premiums much either, only a marginal amount.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Having sufficient UM coverage is just a safe way to ensure that you’re financially protected if the unexpected happens on the road.

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Do hit and runs affect insurance premiums?

The short answer is no, hit and run claims should not affect your . If you’re the victim in the situation (the not-at-fault driver), your insurer likely won’t penalize you for the damages. They might take away any claims-free discounts you had, but they’ll cover the costs of your claim without raising your rates. However, as mentioned earlier, you’ll have to pay the deductible amount you specified when you purchased your policy.

However, for your premiums to not change, your insurer needs to be convinced you weren’t responsible.

If you’ve been hit by a fleeing driver, you must report the incident to the police right away. Or, as early as you can within 24 hours. Not doing so makes it harder for the police to verify it wasn’t your fault. If there’s any ambiguity about who caused the accident, it could raise red flags with your insurer. They’ll question who’s at fault and take any reasonable measures to mitigate their risks. In turn, this could result in them increasing your premiums.

Typically, after notifying the police, you have seven days to file an insurance claim. But you should contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. Failing to do so could disrupt your claim process. You’ll need to provide your car details, a description of the incident and those involved, and the name of the officer you contacted or a police report number.

Now, if you were the culprit in a hit and run situation, then that’s a different story. You’ve essentially committed a crime and will have to face the appropriate penalties. The severity of the damage will determine whether you pay fines, face jail time, or both.

If you’re convicted of a hit and run offense, your insurance provider will also consider you a high-risk driver. This means they can do one of three things:

  • Deny coverage.
  • Increase your premiums.
  • Cancel your policy completely.

Commonly asked questions

Does hit and run insurance cover parked cars?

Whether you’re driving or parked, a hit and run functions like any other collision, meaning you’ll need collision or all perils to cover physical damage to the car. If your car gets damaged in a hit and run accident, but it was parked and unoccupied at the time, then there are two possible scenarios:

  • If your car was vacant, you’ll only be able to claim for damage to your car.
  • If your car was occupied, you’ll be able to claim for both damage to your car and injury sustained by anyone covered under your policy who was in the vehicle.

Are all coverages that include hit and run mandatory?

No, not all hit and run coverages are mandatory. By default, you’ll have medical and injury-related coverage from uninsured motorist coverage if you have car insurance in any province, excluding Alberta where it’s optional.

On the other hand, collision coverage and all perils coverage are optional. You can choose either or neither of these depending on your perception of risk and financial situation. To state the obvious, having them will provide more protection. It’s also great for having a piece of mind, since you can’t always predict what happens on the road.

What is the penalty for a hit and run in Ontario?

Committing a hit and run is a crime in Canada. However, provinces may enforce their penalties and regulations differently.

In Ontario under the Highway Traffic Act, a hit and run offense is committed when one fails to remain at the scene of the accident. Here’s what a hit and run driver could face:

  • Fines ranging from a minimum of $400 to a maximum of $2,000.
  • Jail time for up to six months.
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to two years.
  • Increased car insurance rates if the driver is convicted.

You can face one or more of these if you fail to stop after any collision, regardless of how minor it seems. To avoid them, you simply need to fulfill your legal obligation, which means staying at the scene, exchanging information, and assisting those involved.

Want to learn more? Visit our Car insurance resource centre for dozens of helpful articles to guide you through the complexities of car insurance. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized car insurance can be.

About the expert: Daniel Mirkovic

A co-founder of Square One with 25 years of experience in the insurance industry, Daniel was previously vice president of the insurance and travel divisions at the British Columbia Automobile Association. Daniel has a bachelor of commerce and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He holds a Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) designation and a general insurance license level 3 in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.


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