What Happens if Someone Hits Your Parked Car?

By Diane Tait

Image courtesy Pixabay
If you’ve ever parked your car on the street or in a parking lot only to come back to find that there’s a big dent in it, then you know the frustration of a vehicular hit and run.  Most motorists know that whenever their car is involved in an accident, fault is assessed on the offending driver.  The problem is when the offending driver drives away without so much as an apology, let alone taking responsibility for the damage done, the question is, what comes next?   

Irresponsible drivers don’t always get away with murder.

Under ordinary circumstances when your parked vehicle is hit by another vehicle, the at-fault driver’s insurer pays for repairs to your vehicle and if necessary, medical coverage to anyone in it who gets injured during the accident.  However, when the offending driver flees the scene and no witnesses step forward to tell you the make, model and license number of the vehicle that hit yours, your policy will kick in to make you whole again.  That being said, if another motorist hits your car and flees the scene, the police will treat the incident as a hit and run if you report it as such.  That fact alone may result in a witness stepping forward to provide a description of the offending vehicle.  It’s also possible that the parking lot has a closed-circuit video system that could also help identify the culprit.  It’s in your best interest to have the careless driver who hit your vehicle caught and prosecuted, since this will force him or her to pay for your damages.

      1.      Will I pay a deductible on a hit-and-run claim? – If the offending driver isn’t caught, then you may or may not be forced to pay a deductible depending on the circumstances.  If the only damage is cosmetic, such as a broken taillight or dented fender, you’ll be required to pay the deductible if the claim is made under the collision portion of your auto insurance policy.  If you or your passengers sustain an injury in a parking lot accident where the at-fault driver flees the scene and you file for compensation for medical expenses under the uninsured driver portion of your policy (assuming you opted for it), you would not be required to pay a deductible for that.

      2.      Why doesn’t the liability portion of your auto policy cover a hit-and-run accident? – Unless your parked car damages another vehicle when your vehicle is involved in a hit-and-run accident, your liability coverage won’t pay for your injuries or the damage to your vehicle.  That’s because the liability portion of your policy is dedicated to addressing the injuries to or damages caused by your vehicle to property that belongs to someone other than yourself.

      3.      If you file a hit-and-run claim, will it cause your insurance costs to rise? – The answer is possibly, since claim frequency affects what you pay to insure your vehicle.  If the accident wasn’t your fault and you haven’t made any other recent claims, the odds of your insurance rate increasing are lower than if you filed a claim within the past year.

Image courtesy flickr
      4.      If someone hits your parked car, what should you do? – If you happen to be inside your car or witness your vehicle being struck by another party, first and foremost, don’t get angry.  Parking lot accidents do occur on occasion and the last thing you want to do is have the situation escalate.  More importantly, the best way to get compensated is to make sure you document the accident.  That means taking pictures of both vehicles and collecting the name, address, phone number and insurance info on the other driver.  Even if the at-fault motorist offers to pay out of pocket, don’t fail to contact your insurance agency right away, since the other driver may try to renege at a later date.  It’s also a good idea to check for witnesses, since the at-fault driver might try to pin the accident on you.  It’s also a good idea to scan the parking lot for cameras, since a video of the incident will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who the guilty party was.

      5.      If someone hits your parked car and flees, what should you do? – If you come back from visiting a friend or shopping only to discover that your vehicle was damaged and the offending driver is nowhere to be seen, the first thing to do is to call the police to report the hit-and-run.  The next thing to do is to try to find out if there were any witnesses to the accident, as well as scanning for any nearby CCTV cameras.  While you wait for the police to arrive, take photos of the damage and any debris lying nearby.  This will prove you didn’t cause the damage yourself.  Then call your insurance company to report the damage right away.  If you wait until you get home, you could damage your case which might result in your insurance company listing you as the at-fault driver.

Image courtesy pixabay
What should you do if you accidentally hit someone else’s car in a parking lot? – If you should strike someone else’s parked car, you need to stop and own up to the damage.  If not, you could be charged as a hit-and-run driver.  Park your car and see if there is anyone in the car you hit.  If not, wait for the driver to come back.  Take photos of both vehicles.  If nobody comes back to the vehicle, it is permissible to leave a note containing your name and phone number under the windshield wiper of the car you hit.  You should also write down the license plate number of the vehicle you struck.  Either way, you need to contact your insurance company to file a claim.
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.


  1. This is really useful information. Thank you for publishing this.


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