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Ask the Car Insurance Expert

My car was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Will my liability car insurance cover the damage?

Car insurance has several components, including liability coverage, which is required by most states. Unfortunately, liability coverage doesn't help in this instance because it covers damage and injuries you cause others. It doesn't pay the bill to repair your car.

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For coverage in this case, you would need collision insurance, which covers your car if you're involved in an accident. Collision coverage is optional. So is comprehensive insurance, which covers theft of your vehicle or damage to your car caused by factors other than a traffic accident (such as vandalism, natural disasters and collisions with animals).

Another type of coverage that could come to the rescue is uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage, which pays for repairs to your car if you're hit by an uninsured driver -- or, according to some policies, a hit-and-run driver. Whether you have this coverage depends partly on where you live. UMPD is required by law in some states, optional in some other states and unavailable in others.

Don't confuse uninsured motorist property damage coverage with uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. The latter pays the medical expenses of you and your passengers if you're hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver; it does not cover the car.

Read your policy to learn what type of coverage you and have. Then, call your car insurance agent.

For more, see Car insurance basics.

Last updated: Jul. 2, 2012
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