Parked Cars Take a Hit

Car parks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but one thing common to them all is that cars get dinked, scraped and bashed in them. In fact, according to a recent AA/Populus study there is an eight out of 10 chance that you have at some time had your car damaged in a car park.

Bump a car

Often the damage is caused while manoeuvring – bumping in to other cars, pillars, walls or barriers. But many of us will also have felt the frustration of coming back laden with shopping only to find a dent in the wing or door that wasn’t there before – but no trace of whoever caused the damage.

In fact, 11% of the 8,800 AA Members surveyed admitted that if they did hit an unattended parked car, they would simply drive off without leaving a note. If translated to all UK drivers, this would equate to nearly 4 million: and of those, 10% would even leave a note with false contact details!

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says that the number of insurance claims made nationally for accidents in car parks is steadily rising. "Around 3.24 million claims for car park damage were made over the first half of 2009, 10% more than over the same period last year* – but I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Our survey found that 80% of those interviewed say that their car has at some time been noticeably damaged while it was parked in a car park. Of course, many people wouldn't bother to claim for a small dink as it would affect their no claim bonus, unless it was caused by someone else and a claim can be made against them. But often they can't do that, because whoever caused the damage 'did a runner'," he says.

Revealing

However, the survey of over 8,800 drivers revealed that two-thirds (66%) of would leave a note if they accidentally hit an unattended parked car, women (67%) being slightly more honest than men (65%).

Another 12% say they would take the car number and own up to car park operator, police or their insurer.

The survey found that young drivers are least likely to own up (58%) while those aged between 55 and 64 are most likely to do so (69%).

Regionally, those in the East Midlands are more likely to drive off (13%) than drivers in the South West and Scotland, who appear most likely to follow their conscience with only 9% saying they would leave the scene.

Trolleyed

"Car parking is a hazardous driving activity and our claims experience shows that hitting or being hit by another vehicle is by far the most common car-park claim, followed by collisions with walls, pillars, trolley shelters or barriers. There are also regular claims for damage from rogue shopping trolleys.

"Manoeuvring a car – especially in reverse – is something that many people aren't comfortable with and it would be good to see this play a more prominent part in the driving test. That way, perhaps future generations will be less likely to experience the frustration of seeing a dent in their door – and no trace of who caused the damage."

Drivers who feel they would like to brush up on their parking skills can do so by contacting the AA Driving School.

* Based on insurance claims from 1 million policyholders

** Based on 27 million cars in UK (Dept for Transport, 2008)

About the survey
AA/Populus surveyed 8,808 AA members online between 30th June and 6th July. 62% were male, 38% female.

Last updated: 31 July 2009