Imagine that you are out for a nice dinner and you come out to the restaurant’s parking lot only to find out that another car has hit your car. Certainly this is a frustrating experience. However you will want to remain composed to be sure you deal with this situation properly.
Steps to take
If you come out of a store and find that someone has hit your parked car in the store’s parking lot, or if you are leaving a friend’s house and find that someone has hit your car while parked on the street, here are some initial steps to take.
- Don’t leave the scene or move your car if possible.
- Try to locate the person who hit your car and exchange information with them. Ideally they will have left their information under the windshield wiper blade on your car if they couldn’t locate you.
- Take photos of the damage to your car and then contact the police to file a report with them. Having a police officer come out and complete an official police report will be helpful in filing a claim with your insurance company if you need to rely on your policy to cover the damage to your car.
- File a claim with your own insurance company if you can’t locate the other driver or if they are underinsured.
What to do if someone hits your parked car and drives off
In some jurisdictions hitting another car and leaving the scene of the accident is a criminal offense. You should call the police if this happens to you and file a report. The police may be able to help you identify the driver by searching any video camera footage from the area if applicable.
You will want to file a claim with your own insurance company. If your policy includes collision coverage and/or uninsured motorist coverage, these are the parts of your policy that would pay the cost to repair your vehicle if the other driver cannot be located, or if they are uninsured.
Who will pay for the damages to my car?
If the driver who hit your parked car has insurance, their insurance company will pay for the damage to your car. To the extent that the amount of damage exceeds the amount their insurance company will pay, they are responsible for paying the rest, though you may or may not ever be able to collect this excess amount from them.
In the event the other driver is never located, or if they are uninsured or underinsured, your own insurance company will pay to the extent that the cost to repair your car does not exceed the coverage limits of your policy.
If your own insurance coverage is needed to cover some or all of the costs of repairing your car, two types of coverage might apply:
Collision coverage will pay to repair or replace your vehicle regardless of who is at fault. This could certainly include damage arising from your parked car being hit by another vehicle. If the other driver left the scene, your collision coverage will likely cover the damage to your car.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage
If the driver who hit your parked car is uninsured, this coverage will often help cover the cost to repair the damage to your car. This coverage might also kick in if the driver left the scene and never came forward.
Both collision and uninsured motorist coverage will generally have a deductible. You will need to pay the amount of the deductible before the policy’s coverage kicks in. For example if your deductible is $300, you will need to pay the first $300 in repair costs. These coverages will also be subject to policy limits which will serve as the upper limit that your insurance policy will cover for this type of claim.
Will my insurance rates increase if someone hits my car?
You might think that there is no way my insurance company will increase my rates for an accident that was in no way, shape or form my fault. After all, the other driver hit your car while it was parked.
As long as there is no claim made by you to your own insurance your rates likely won’t increase over this incident. However, if you are forced to make a claim against your own policy your insurance company may raise your rates. While you were not at fault for this incident, your claim still costs your insurance company money.
Should I call my insurance if it wasn't my fault?
Clearly if your parked car is hit by another driver it is not your fault. That said, strange things can happen, perhaps the other driver might claim that your car was parked illegally or not within a designated parking space in a lot or a parking garage. They or their insurance company may try to attribute at least some of the blame to you for this reason.
Regardless of the circumstances, if someone hits your parked vehicle it is still a good idea to contact your insurance company. This is true even if you were able to speak with them at the scene or if they left a note on your vehicle with their information.
Your insurance company can be a resource in dealing with the other driver’s insurance company should they stonewall paying the claim for damages to your car.
Coming out of your house or a store to find that your parked car has been hit by another car is a very frustrating experience. Ideally the other driver has stuck around to share their information with you or at least leave a note with their contact information on your car.
If the other driver is insured, their insurance company will pay all or most of the cost to repair your car. If they are not insured or they are underinsured, you may need to make a claim through your own insurance company. If your insurance pays for the cost of repairing your car, this could cause your insurance premiums to rise in the future.