Someone Hit Your Car: Whose Insurance Do You Call?

Someone else might be liable for damages if they hit you, but it’s still important to call your insurance company to report the accident.

Woman holding neck after an accident
Updated May 13, 2024
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If someone hits your car, call your insurance company. Any other involved parties should call their insurance companies as well. And as long as you’ve all exchanged information, the insurance companies can sort out who covers what.

In the case of determining who’s at fault for an accident, a police report can come in handy. This is why it’s important to document everything you can and collect a report about the accident to give to your insurance company.

Let’s explore more about whose insurance to call if someone hits your car, including the steps to take after an accident and what expenses different types of car insurance typically cover.

In this article

What to do if someone hits your car

Although it’s an important step, calling your insurance company shouldn’t be the first thing you do if someone hits your car. If you’re involved in a car accident, follow these steps:

1. Get to safety

Getting to safety can look different depending on the situation. In many cases, it means pulling off to the side of the road so you lower the chances of being hit by another vehicle. This is especially important if the accident occurs on a busy road or highway.

2. Take care of yourself and others

Check to see if anyone is hurt or injured among all parties involved. You want to start with anyone in your own vehicle before checking on other people.

You might want to try and avoid another party altogether if you think the accident has something to do with road rage. But use your best judgment, especially if it looks like someone is injured.

3. Make necessary calls

If you or someone else hasn’t already, call 911 to report the accident. The dispatcher will need to know details about the situation, such as the location and whether anyone is injured.

If it’s a minor accident, such as a fender bender, expect only a police officer to show up to fill out an accident report. For more serious car accidents, paramedics and/or the fire department could also be sent.

You don’t want to leave the scene of an accident until there’s a police report and you’ve collected the information you need.

4. Assess the damage

If there aren’t any other pressing matters, assess the damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. This is where you would want to take as many clear photos and videos as it makes sense to.

5. Collect information

Apart from taking photos and videos, you also want to exchange information with anyone else involved in the accident, which could include witnesses.

This is the type of information you want to collect:

  • Makes and models of vehicles
  • License plate numbers of vehicles
  • Contact information, including names and phone numbers of people involved
  • Driver’s license numbers of people involved
  • Insurance information of people involved
  • Location details

You will also want a copy of the police report once it’s available.

6. Talk to the police

If a police officer comes to the scene of the accident, answer all their questions and make sure they fill out an accident report.

If a police officer doesn’t come to the scene of the accident, you can go to the nearest police station to fill out an accident report yourself.

7. Start your insurance claim

You may have already had time to call your car insurance company. But if not, call your insurance provider. This is best done as soon after an accident as you’re able to because all the details will still be fresh in your mind.

And an insurance agent can let you know what information they might need to start the claims process. This could include things that are easier to get while you’re still at the scene of the accident, such as photos of the damage and insurance information from other parties.

Whose insurance do you call?

You typically need to call your auto insurance company whether you’re at fault or not for an accident. You might be worried that your rates will increase if you call your provider. That’s a legit worry because they might go up if you have to submit a car insurance claim.

But calling your insurance company helps set a foundation for yourself in the event that you do need to submit a claim in the future. You might find out that all damages will be covered by the other party’s insurance, which would likely be a best-case scenario.

If that doesn’t happen, your initial phone call reporting the accident to your insurer can make it much easier to continue with the claims process.

Calling your insurance company can also help start the process of submitting a third-party claim. This is a type of claim that’s submitted by someone other than the policyholder. In the case of being hit by someone else, you’d be filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to help pay for expenses.

Tip
You likely want to contact your insurance company even if the damage is minimal, especially if there’s another party involved in an accident. Another driver might say they won’t pursue anything, but it’s in your best interests to have evidence in place about a reported accident in case anything changes. This doesn’t mean you have to submit a claim.

What if the other driver is uninsured?

About one in eight drivers was uninsured in 2019, according to a 2021 report by the Insurance Research Council. So the chances of being hit by an uninsured driver are probably higher than you might like.

There are generally two scenarios for what happens if an uninsured person hits you in a car accident:

  1. You have uninsured/underinsured insurance that covers it.
  2. You don’t have uninsured/underinsured insurance and have to look for other solutions.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage exists because not everyone has car insurance. And even if someone does have car insurance, they might not have high enough limits to cover all applicable expenses.

Uninsured/underinsured coverage is required in many, but not all, states. If you have this coverage and you know the other driver is uninsured, let your insurance company know the situation when you call them. This will help them follow the necessary steps to successfully submit your claim.

If you don’t have uninsured/underinsured coverage, you might be able to have other parts of your policy pay for expenses. For example, collision coverage might help pay for your car repairs, whereas personal injury protection could pay for medical-related expenses.

But if your insurance policy won’t cover all expenses, you might have to pay for them out of pocket. You could possibly take the other driver to court, but keep in mind that typically comes with some expenses as well.

Will the damage be covered by my insurance?

It depends on the type of accident, where you live, and what kind of insurance you have. And, ultimately, your insurance company decides what damage is covered. Here’s a breakdown of what the primary types of car insurance typically cover:

Typically covers
Bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage Damages and/or injuries you cause to someone else or their property
Collision coverage Damages to your vehicle that result from a collision with another vehicle, a stationary object, or as a result of flipping over
Comprehensive coverage Damages that aren’t covered by collision insurance, such as vandalism, fire, hail, falling objects, theft, or hitting an animal
Personal injury protection or medical payments Medical expenses related to the treatment of injuries for you and other passengers in your vehicle; could also cover funeral costs, lost wages, and the cost of replacing services
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage Expenses that come into play if you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist or involved in a hit-and-run accident

What to expect during the claims process

The auto insurance claims process typically starts when you call your provider after being involved in a car accident, often while you’re still at the scene of the accident. Depending on your provider, you also might be able to start the process using a mobile app on your smartphone.

Your insurance company should let you know exactly what you need to submit when it comes to forms, reports, photos, and more. You can sometimes keep track of the progress of your claim through your online account using the company website or mobile app.

If you’re not used to how claims work, be sure to ask your provider plenty of questions. This could involve finding out any time limits for submitting documentation or resolving a claims dispute.

Tip
Keep in mind that you might be contacted by a claims or insurance adjuster. This is an individual who’s tasked with investigating your claim to determine whether it’s legitimate. If it’s deemed a legit claim, the adjuster helps decide how much the insurance company is going to pay. An adjuster can also help you coordinate car repairs and vehicle inspections.

Insurance companies generally have around 30 days to investigate a claim, though this can vary by state and the type of claim. If your claim is denied, you might be able to dispute the denial.

If your claim is approved, the payment could be handled a few different ways depending on what’s being covered. For example, your insurer might pay for your car repairs directly or have you pay for them and then reimburse you.

FAQs

Who do you call if someone hits your parked car?

Call the police so they can file a police report. This can help make things easier if you plan on submitting a claim with your insurance. Even if you don’t plan on submitting a claim, you still might want to report the accident to your insurance. This could help protect you in case the other party pursues any legal action.

What is the difference between collision and comprehensive?

Collision insurance is for collisions with other vehicles and stationary objects, such as a telephone pole. Comprehensive insurance is for other types of vehicle damage, including vandalism, hail, or hitting an animal. These types of coverage aren’t typically required but could make sense to have depending on where you live.

For example, it might make sense to have both collision and comprehensive insurance in a large city. More cars and more people often means a higher chance of a collision, theft, or vandalism.

What if someone hits my car, and I don’t have insurance?

In many states, the liability insurance of the at-fault driver is responsible for any damages or injuries. But if you live in a no-fault state, you’re typically required to file a claim with your own insurance company after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. If you don’t have insurance, you might have to cover the damages yourself.

Does my insurance go up if someone hits me?

Your car insurance rates typically increase if you cause an accident, but it’s also possible for them to go up if someone else is at fault. However, it’s likely that your rates wouldn’t increase as much as if you were at fault for the accident.

Bottom line

You typically want to call your insurance company if someone hits your car, which is the case for most types of car accidents.

Calling your insurance company soon after an accident can help keep important details fresh and set the groundwork in case you want to submit a claim. It can also help protect you against potential lawsuits from other parties because you’ll have evidence of the accident with your insurance company.

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.