If someone hits your parked car and remains at the scene, treat this as any other car accident, and follow the steps listed below. If the other driver leaves a note, or worse, escapes the scene, search for as much evidence as possible so that you can be reimbursed by your insurance company.
- Exchange information
- Take photos
- File a police report
- Notify your insurer
Fortunately, if you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage coverage, you’ll be covered by your car insurance policy.
Read on to learn more about how nuances may apply to your specific situation.
Someone hit my parked car and left a note
Ideally, they would have left their contact information or insurance company’s information.
- If they don’t identify the insurer on the note, call them for the insurance company’s name.
- It’ll also be helpful to look around for witnesses — either people living in the houses near where you were parked or people working in the shops near the curb to gather more information.
If the damages are small, you might consider getting quotes as soon as possible from several body shops to determine how much repairs would cost, and then seeing if the other driver would be willing to pay cash out of pocket.
Ask the auto mechanics if there could be any unforeseen damage (for example, what looks like a small dent on the outside impacted the engine, etc.). However, going this route could mean that your insurance won’t cover any future problems from the same accident.
But you would avoid paying a deductible and premium increases from filing a claim (which we’ve calculated to be roughly 23% in quotes for our sample driver).
>> LEARN MORE: How Accidents Affect Car Insurance Rates
If the repair bill is high, or larger than your deductible, then consider going the insurance route.
While the driver may still pay out of pocket, the peace of mind in having the whole car looked at and potential future problems covered under insurance may be better in the long run.
You can file with:
- The other driver’s liability insurance
- The collision coverage on your policy
- The uninsured motorist property damage coverage on your policy (if they lack insurance)
>> LEARN MORE: Understanding Collision and Comprehensive Insurance
Hit-and-run accident with my parked car
The first thing to do is check for witnesses or security cameras on the scene.
- Ask pedestrians, retailers or residents near where your car was stationed if they saw someone side-swiping your car or remember cars parked near you.
- If your car was dented or scratched in the parking lot while you were shopping, you might be able to get video evidence from the shop or have the police follow up with the store’s security office.
- While it’s rare that they’ll be able to make out the license plate from a grainy video, finding the size and color of the car can help locate the hit-and-run driver.
Next, take photos and videos of the damage from different angles. You should document even minor paint scratches or dings that can cost money to repair.
Your options are slightly more limited because you may not be able to locate the hit-and-run driver.
- You can file a claim with your insurer under collision (more below).
- You could try to claim through uninsured motorist property damage coverage if you have it, but your mileage may vary.
Progressive implies that the person at fault has to be identified in their glossary, but Geico’s uninsured motorist property damage covered hit-and-run drivers when we got a quote in Texas.
>> LEARN MORE: How to File an Auto Insurance Claim
You’re injured in your car while it's parked
We’ve covered the main situations for damage to your car above.
What if you’re hurt in the parked car? Seek medical care immediately. If the injury is something minor, you can still take care of it out of pocket with the driver.
We recommend you consider filing a claim because some types of injuries, such as whiplash, may not show up until later down the road.
Future medical problems may arise that you can’t foresee on the spot. If you have the other drivers’ insurance information, you can file under their bodily injury liability.
Otherwise, you could file under your:
- Personal injury protection (PIP)
- Medical payments
- Standard health insurance
>> LEARN MORE: What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?
How auto insurance covers a crash into your parked car
Here’s what you can do if you decide to go with insurance instead of getting cash from the other driver, in our recommended order:
File with the other driver’s property damage liability coverage and, if you're hurt, bodily injury liability (if you get their contact information).
- If you’re able to cover your own repairs upfront, consider putting in what’s called a third-party claim for the damage to your car.
- The downside is that it’ll take longer to get your money back because the other company will launch an investigation to determine fault.
- This keeps claims filings off of your record, which then prevents your insurer from raising rates because of the accident (though they may raise rates for other reasons).
File with your insurance company’s uninsured motorist property damage (if you have it in your state).
- This is a rarer coverage, but it allows you to recover damages and repair costs with a potentially lower deductible if the driver was found and uninsured.
- Note that your insurer will require a police report, and they may conduct an investigation, which will take time.
- Even though the accident was not your fault, your rates might still go up after because of the very act of filing a claim.
File a claim with the collision portion of your auto insurance coverage (if you have it).
- This is usually a faster process than the other two options above, but you will likely have to shoulder the deductible.
- That means if the repairs to your side doors cost $1,000, and your deductible responsibility was $500, you "pay" the deductible and only get $500 back from your insurer.
- The deductible gets paid regardless of fault, and your rates may increase upon renewal because you filed a claim.
Note that comprehensive coverage does not cover another car striking your unattended car, which can be frustrating if you don’t have collision or your comprehensive deductible is lower. Comprehensive is used more for natural disasters and theft or vandalism.
Reporting claims at the top four insurers
>> LEARN MORE: How Top Auto Insurers Stack Up Against Each Other