Parking, at the best of times, can be daunting for new drivers, let alone in a busy car park. A recent update to the driving test from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has announced that they will be removing ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in a round’, and focus on ‘parallel park at the side of the road’, ‘parking in a bay’, and ‘pulling up on the right-hand side of the road’. All of these are heavily focused on parking, and will be put in place from 4th December 2017.

A daunting hotspot

It’s no wonder new and young drivers find car parks daunting, when reports from the RAC claim that two-thirds of British drivers have experienced some kind of damage to their car after parking in a car park. 28% have experienced three lots of damage, and 23% of people have experience five! The AA say that at least 20% of all insurance claims come from car park accidents – the most common category of car insurance claims.

The RAC also report that the most common location for a car to be damaged is in a supermarket car park, with 48% of drivers naming it as the scene of the crime. In most cases, the damage is minor, with 44% describing the damage as just a small dent or a scratch.

When it comes to car park accidents, a study from the AA also reported that a fifth of people would just drive off, especially if they thought no one had noticed.

How to avoid car park accidents

There are a couple of things you can do to avoid being involved in a car park accident:

  • Make sure you leave enough space either side of you to limit the chances of someone opening their car door onto your car, or scratching it as they walk past.
  • If you don’t feel the gap is big enough, just take a few minutes to find a wider space and move your car. Spaces at the end of a row are a good choice.
  • Park next to cars that are in good condition; you can often assume they will have more careful owners.
  • If it is a tight squeeze, remember to fold in your wing mirrors.

What to do if you are involved in a car park accident

Although there are many precautions we can take to try to avoid being involved in a car park accident, it is always good to be aware of what to do when an accident occurs.

If someone has hit your parked car

Check to see if a note has been left if you were not present at the time; this is likely to be found under a windscreen wiper. By law, a note should be left with contact information including their name, address, licence plate and an explanation of what happened. If a note has not been left, the person who caused the accident could face a hit-and-run claim.

Get evidence. Make sure to take several pictures of the damage to your car and the location, trying to include a time and date stamp – these could come in handy when claiming insurance.

Again, if no note has been left look for witnesses or CCTV. You may be able to gather useful evidence from a witness or CCTV, including what happened and their number plate.

Lucky enough to have been left a note? Contact the third party (person who caused the accident) and insurance company. From here, you can decide if you want to go through the insurance company or pay for the repairs yourself.

If you aren’t so lucky, remembering only 9% of people would leave a note, then the only way to claim the damage is through your own insurance company – or paying for the repair yourself.

If you hit a parked car

Stay and wait for the owner of the car to come back, even if the damage is minor. Speaking to the owner directly will give you a chance to discuss with them what action they want to take, and could avoid the situation going through your insurance company.

If no one arrives, leave a note with your name, address, contact number and an explanation of what happened. Be aware that if you decided to leave the scene of the accident without leaving any information then, as above, you could receive a motoring conviction.

Take photos of the damage to both cars, including a picture of the number plate. Finally, gather witness information if possible including their contact information and a description of what happened.

The process for both instances are fairly similar, however, with 91% of accidents resulting in the driver just ‘driving away’ it is vital new and young drivers are aware of how to deal with a car park accident.

If you have any further questions on what to do if you have a car park accident, or would like to make a claim, get in touch today. Or, if you are a new driver and looking for insurance, take a look at the benefits of a black box policy with insurethebox.