On a morning like any other, you leave your house to drive your children to school. With your hands full of lunch boxes and school bags, you get to your car, which is parked on the street. You notice something that wasn’t there the day before: a huge, deep scratch that runs along the side of your car. In a state of shock, you make your way around the car to see if someone left a note or contact information—but there’s nothing to find. The wrongdoer took off. What should you do next?
Step 1: Contact the authorities.
You need to contact the police within 24 hours of the hit-and-run to file an accident report (the sooner the better!). Such a report is essential for making a claim with your broker, as well as with the SAAQ, in the event you are not covered through your insurer.
In your auto insurance policy, comprehensive coverage includes a deductible that must be paid. However, some insurers remove the deductible if you have proof from the police that confirms the hit-and-run. This value-added benefit is provided by endorsement Q.E.F. No. 41. As such, if you want to avoid spending in the event of a hit-and-run, it is very important to contact the police immediately and to confirm with your broker whether this clause is included your policy.
Note that some large cities, like Montréal, Gatineau, and Saint-Jérôme, no longer complete police reports for hit-and-runs. To make sure that your insurer is satisfied, ask for the full name and badge number of the police officer to whom you spoke.
Step 2: Contact your insurance broker.
You must then call your insurance broker to let him know about the damage so that your broker can provide you with advice and guide you in the right direction. The claim for the damage caused by the hit-and-run is payable under Chapter B2 of your insurance policy—collision or upset coverage. You are required to have this optional coverage to be eligible to be paid for damage to your car. If you do not have collision or upset coverage, there is another option available to you: the SAAQ can compensate you for the damage, provided that you meet the eligibility criteria.
Step 3: File (or do not file) a claim.
You then need to decide whether or not you want to file a claim. As your broker will explain to you, a claim, no matter the nature of the damage or your level of responsibility, will have an impact on your premium when you next renew it. It will also affect your loss experience for the next six years—even if you weren’t responsible, even if you weren’t in the car, and even if you were kilometres away from it when the accident occurred! It is therefore essential to know the effects of such a claim on your insurance premium since, in the end, you could be paying more in premium increases than the value of the damage itself. That is why your Lareau insurance broker, as well as the team of claims adjusters, will be there to help and advise you!
If you ever find yourself in this situation, don’t worry! You will find peace of mind quickly with the help of your broker, and that scratch on your nice car will feel slightly less scary!