Car park crash damage

Shopping scrapes - 59% of incidents happen at a supermarket

According to AA Insurance, claims for cars damaged in car park incidents rise during the pre-Christmas period as places are often filled to capacity.

And a new AA-Populus survey suggests that over the past 12 months just over half of motorists (51%) have suffered some damage to their car in a car park (52% male, 49% female).* But most car park prangs result in minor scrapes or dints that don't justify making an insurance claim.

8% would drive off if they hit another car

Two-thirds of the respondents (66%) said that if they accidentally damaged another vehicle they would make an effort to notify the owner. But a sly 8% admitted that they would drive off, especially if they hadn't been spotted causing the damage. Of those, one in eight would leave a note – but giving false contact details.

Janet Connor, managing director of AA Insurance, says: "There's nothing more infuriating than returning to your car to find that it has been damaged.

"As cars get bigger, parking can be extremely trying, especially if spaces are on the tight side.**

"But that over half of drivers have suffered some car damage in a year is extraordinary, and it shows just how hazardous car parks are.

"It's very easy to make a parking error and scrape another car, or carelessly open a door and clip a neighbouring vehicle. Unfortunately many people are either unaware they have caused damage or just don't bother to report it.

"But if the damage is substantial enough to justify making an insurance claim, then it's likely that the driver will lose some or all of their no-claim bonus if a claim can't be made off the person who caused the damage.

AA Insurance claims records show that the majority of claims are collisions with other vehicles or with objects such as bollards, lamp posts or trolley shelters. Other claims include damage caused by rogue shopping trolleys, vandalism, and break-ins and thefts from cars.

"Even at slow speed substantial damage can be caused by reversing into another car, or striking a concrete pillar or bollard," Ms Connor points out.

Young drivers more likely to admit damaging their car

According to the research, 59% of all reported car park scrapes happened at a supermarket, 12% in an open-air car park, while 11% happened in each of multi-storey car parks and on-street parking.

Only 7% occurred at a workplace car park.

Of those who have suffered damage to their car, only 9% admitted that they have caused the damage themselves (8% men, 10% women). Younger drivers were more likely to admit that they damaged their own vehicle – 18% of those aged 18–24 saying so – followed by 11% of 25–34 year olds.

Of those who had found damage, 6% returned to their parked vehicle to find it vandalised. Just 1% found that their car had been broken in to and items stolen.

AA Driving School car parking advice

  • Be considerate – park within the white lines as straight as possible, and take care when exiting
  • In busy car parks, park in the outer areas where more spaces are available
  • Spaces at the end of a row can offer more room
  • If the space is tight, fold in your side mirrors
  • It's safer to reverse into the space rather than reverse out into traffic

Summary of car park incidents*

How was your car damaged (past 12 months)

 

All %

Male %

Female %

Dented or scratched by someone else

91

92

90

Dented or scratched by me

9

8

10

Vandalism

6

6

6

Broken in to and items stolen

1

1

1

Broken in to and nothing stolen

1

1

1

Other

2

1

2

Type of car park where car was damaged

 

All %

Male %

Female %

Supermarket

59

61

55

Open-air

12

13

12

Multi-storey

11

11

10

On-street

11

10

13

Workplace

7

6

10

Other or don't remember

22

19

20


* Populus interviewed 19,887 people aged 18+ on The AA-Populus online panel, 18–26 November 2014. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

** The minimum recommended size for car park spaces is 4.8m x 2.4m. Spaces in older car parks may be as small as 1.8m wide; Manual for Streets, Department for Transport, 2007.

2 January 2015