Car accidents are never a good situation for anyone involved. While most people think of car accidents as happening at high speeds on the road, it’s just as common to have your parked car hit in a parking lot. Even worse, some people don’t bother to leave their information, making it a hit and run situation. The costs of repair can be covered by a combination of collision and uninsured motorist coverage, but you may also owe a deductible. No matter what happened, there are a few essential steps for properly handling this situation.
When someone hits a parked car, they are responsible for making contact with the vehicle owner. They must either wait for the owner to return to their car or they must leave a note with their personal contact information, insurance information and a description of what happened. All of this info can be used later by the person who was hit to contact the perpetrator and file a claim with their insurance. The perpetrator does not need to contact the police, however, if no one was hurt in the accident.
When someone hits a parked car and they do not leave information or make contact with the owner, it becomes a hit and run situation. This is against the law and causes much more trouble for the perpetrator if they are ever caught. In an event such as this, you must call the police and file an official report. This will put it on record that a hit and run occurred and the police can do what they can to find the driver. The police may even be able to obtain video from the nearby businesses who may have cameras aimed at the parking lot.
No matter what happens, it is important to document everything about the accident. Take photos of the damage as well as your vehicle’s location in the parking lot. If you caused the accident, be sure to leave your information or speak directly to the owner of the parked car. If it is a hit and run, be sure to call the police and file a report. The more information that is available, the quicker and smoother the claims process will go with the insurance carrier.
Filing a claim with your insurance in this situation is much like any other accident that occurs on the road. They will need the date and time, the location of the incident, photos of the damage, as much contact information as possible from the perpetrator, and the police report if one has been filed. Fortunately, most insurance companies offer coverage options that can take care of the vehicle repairs when your car is hit in a parking lot, whether it is a hit and run or not.
Some drivers worry that filing a claim for any reason will raise their rates. Not all incidents will cause that to happen, and it can actually be costlier to not report an accident in the long run. There are also many ways to save more on your car insurance whether you need to file a claim or not.
There are mandatory insurance requirements that state that all drivers must have certain types of coverage. If the other driver does not have insurance, or not enough to cover the bills, the claim could be filed as an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. This also applied in a hit and run event, as the insurance company must assume there is no coverage because there is no way of contact anyone and obtaining their insurance information. These policies will cover most or all of a repair, usually after a small deductible is paid. Collision coverage is another policy that can be utilized for covering repairs. You may owe a deductible based on your policy, but after that, the rest of the bill will go to the insurance company, up to your collision coverage limits.
Sometimes a parking lot hit causes major damage to the point of disrepair of your car. In events like this, insurance may be able to “total” the car and provide you with money to purchase a new one. If the insurance company can inspect the vehicle and determine that it would cost more to repair the damage than it would to buy a different vehicle, they will give you money to buy a different car. Depending on your specific policy, they may even provide you with enough money to buy a better car than you owned before.
Returning to a damaged car in a parking lot is not an idea situation, but it doesn’t have to be as scary and frustrating as it seems. Do what you can to make contact with the perpetrator, file a police report if necessary, and file a claim with your insurance. Be sure to document everything you can, from photos of the damage to contact information of the other party and police records. Events like this are why we have insurance in the first place.