Have You Hit Someone Else's Parked Car?

Own up – have you accidentally hit a parked car in the local supermarket car park? Did you leave a note?

If recent research is anything to go by,* at least a fifth of people would just drive off – especially if they thought no-one noticed. And a separate study by AA Insurance last year showed that 8 out of 10 drivers have returned to what they thought was their safely parked car, to find someone or something has bashed it.**

Chay Collins of the AA car insurance team says that car-park bashes are the most common single category of car insurance claims. "Amazingly 20 per cent of all claims – which if scaled up nationally would be the equivalent of over 6 million – are for damage caused in car parks.

"But I think the true number might be a lot higher than that. 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 sadly, time and time again, customers tell us that they can't even do that because whoever caused the damage 'did a runner'."

Many people have a sorry story about car-park bashes. Of course, it's not just careless reversing or parking that can cause a scrape or dent in another car. Rogue shopping trolleys can cause damage, as do carelessly hit immoveable objects such as concrete pillars, trolley shelters or lamp posts.

Chay adds: "Parking is a very hazardous activity. You need your eyes in all directions, and it's easy to misjudge a gap or corner. Suddenly crunch – the damage is done, and for most people the first reaction is being angry with themselves at being so careless.

"It's one thing if you clobbered a concrete post, but if you hit another car put yourself in their situation and imagine your anger if the other person just drove away or even left a false note. It's worth remembering that if you do get caught, for instance on a CCTV camera, you could end up with a charge for criminal damage."

Chay urges everyone to own up and also tell their insurance company. "Knowing you've caused damage to someone else's car can play on your conscience, and there's always the risk that you could lose your concentration and have another accident. So honesty really is the best policy."

If you have a car park experience to share or have a view, do let us know on the AA Zone.

* Daily Mail, 22 September 2010.

** Based on insurance claims from 1 million AA policy holders, 2009.