Car park mishaps

8 out of 10 people have had their car damaged in a car park

14 July 2009

But 11 per cent would just drive away from damage they caused

Eight out of 10 say their car has been damaged in a car park and nearly 1,000 of over 8,800 drivers quizzed in the latest AA/Populus poll would just drive away, if they hit an unattended parked car according to AA Insurance.

Claims rising

The broker says that the number of insurance claims made nationally for damage in car parks is steadily rising, with around 3.24 million claims over the first half of 2009, 10 per cent more than over the same period last year1.

But Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, believes this is just a fraction of the true picture.

"The survey found that 80 per cent of those interviewed have at some time had their car noticeably damaged while parked in a car park.

"Because it would affect their no claim bonus, many people wouldn't bother to claim for a small dink unless it was caused by someone else and they could claim against them. But often they can't even do that because whoever caused the damage 'did a runner'," he says.

two thirds would leave a note

However, the survey of over 8,800 AA members revealed that two-thirds (66%) say they 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 the car park operator, police or their insurer.

Drive off

"But a surprising number admit they would drive off: in fact, 11 per cent of the total which if translated to the driving population would be the equivalent of just under 4 million British drivers2. And just over 10 per cent of those who say that they would drive off indicated that they would do so after leaving false contact details" Douglas adds.

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. Perhaps understandably, those on the lowest incomes are the most likely social group to not own up (14%).

Shopping trolleys

Car parking is a hazardous driving activity and the AA's 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.


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

Key findings

80% have suffered damage to their car when parked

  • Region most likely to have suffered damage: Scotland (83%)
  • Region least likely to have suffered damage: East Anglia (76%)

66% would leave a note if they accidentally collided with an unattended car

  • 65% male
  • 67% female
  • 58% age 18-24
  • 69% age 55-64

12% would report the incident after taking the registration number

11% would drive off

  • 12% male
  • 10% female
  • 15% age 18-24
  • 14% age 25-34
  • 11% age 35-44
  • 9% all age brackets 45+ to 65+
  • 9% London, South, Scotland
  • 10% Northern Ireland, West Midlands
  • 12% Wales, East Anglia, Yorks and Humbs, North East, North West
  • 13% East Midlands

Of those who would drive off:

  • 64% would look to see if anyone was about and if not, drive off
  • 27% would just drive off
  • 9% would leave a note but give false details

Join the discussion in the AA zone


27 July 2009
1Based on insurance claims from 1 million policy holders
2Based on 33.8m licensed drivers in UK (Dept for Transport, Transport Statistics 2008)