Christmas car parking

“We both tried to get into the same space” and other woes from AA’s car insurance claims team

According to AA Insurance, car parking leads to more claims than any other single source

According to AA Insurance, car parking leads to more claims than any other single source

As Christmas shopping trips crank up, so too do reports of car park confrontations, dented Christmas pride and crunched panels.

According to AA Car Insurance, car parking leads to more claims than any other single source as woeful stories of parking scraps and scrapes are relayed to claims staff.

A new AA-Populus study* shows that over the past year, almost half (47%) of nearly 30,000 motorists who responded, have seen damage inflicted on their parked cars over the past 12 months.

Most (42%) said that their car had suffered a dent or scratch caused by someone or something else and judging from insurance claims they include careless parking, exuberant opening of doors, parking spaces that are ‘too small’ or shopping trollies let loose in wind or on sloping surfaces.

AA car park tales

A few examples of comments from AA customers calling to make a claim

“Full trolley came tearing down the slope, hit my car and overturned, delivering some of its contents into my open tailgate!”

“We collided when trying to get into the same parking space”

“He kicked my door in because I got to the space first.”

“A big 4x4 truck was in the next space when I parked.  When I got back it had gone but there was a long gouge down the doors.”

“The police car swung into the car park and as the officer turned his car round he reversed into mine, denting the wing.”

“Accidentally put the car into reverse and smashed the glass trolley shelter.”

“The driver parked so close to the car on the left she dented the bumper.  She tried again and hit my car - the space was too small anyway.”

“Misjudged turn and wedged my Jaguar on top the low car park wall.”

Smaller spaces

This comes at a time when Milton Keynes city council announced that it is going to increase its number of car parking spaces – by making them smaller.

Yet only one in 20 (5%) admit that they have suffered damage that they caused themselves.

Just 3% say that their car was deliberately vandalised while it was parked.  And, while the numbers are small (less than 1% of the total), of those reporting that their car had been broken in to and items stolen while parked, this was more likely to happened around Christmas time.

Drive away?

In a previous study**, AA found that more than one in ten drivers (11%) admitted that if they accidentally hit and damaged another parked car, they would drive away or even leave a note with false details.

in the run-up to Christmas when parking spaces are even more scarce, tempers can be frayed and parking mishaps are more likely than at any other time of year

Mike Lloyd, director of AA Insurance

Tempers frayed

Mike Lloyd, director of AA Insurance, comments: “Patience is sorely tested in busy car parks at the best of times but in the run-up to Christmas when parking spaces are even more scarce, tempers can be frayed and parking mishaps are more likely than at any other time of year.  

“AA insurance statistics show car park catastrophes peak in December and January.

Higher risk of theft at Christmas

“And, although the numbers are small, there is a clear increase in the risk of cars being broken in to over Christmas.  It’s hard to think of more miserable act than stealing just-bought Christmas gifts, making shoppers go through the whole trying and costly shopping experience for a second time, if they can afford to.”

Covered by home insurance?

Thefts of property from cars are most likely to be covered by home insurance if it includes property outside the home.  If it is included, there is usually a low upper limit on comprehensive car insurance policy claims for stolen property*** although car damage will be covered. 

Parking advice for Christmas shoppers:

  • Make an early start so you have a better chance of being able to park – and there’s a better chance of finding a space if you shop midweek
  • Never leave purchases on show in the car – most retailers will allow you to buy items and collect at the end of your day
  • Choose car parks that are well lit and have some security (ie patrols or cctv) – use the AA app to help you find spaces
  • Don’t park in restricted areas or in disabled spaces if you aren’t entitled to do so – you will be fined
  • Make sure you follow direction arrows around the car park – this will ensure the traffic continues to flow smoothly
  • Play your part to keep the car park free of hazards by returning your shopping trolley: don’t leave it to roll away and hit another car
  • Use your indicators every time you make a turn – this is just as important in car parks
  • When reversing go slowly and don’t just rely on your mirrors – look over your shoulder too
  • Make sure you’re parked in the middle of the space and take care when opening your car doors
  • If you are involved in a collision and hit another parked vehicle, do the right thing and leave a note with your details
  • If you witness a collision, pass on any information you have to the innocent party.


(10 December 2015)

* Populus interviewed 29,568 AA members between 17-23 November 2015.  Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules

** Populus interviewed 8,808 AA members between 30th June and 6th July 2009

*** The upper limit or items stolen from cars is £250 (£500 for AA members) with an AA comprehensive car insurance policy.  Some insurers don’t cover items stolen from a car or have limits as low as £50.  Optional extension with an AA home insurance policy for valuables ‘anywhere in the world’ is £5,000 and just-bought items stolen from a car are covered up to that limit.  AA also provides a 20% increase on valuables inside the home over Christmas.