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What to do if someone hit my parked car

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

One of the most frustrating events you can experience as a driver is leaving your home or a store and finding that someone has hit your car. It may be a dent in the bumper, a broken side-view mirror or a deep scratch on the side of your vehicle. Car damage isn’t cheap. The cost of repairing a deep paint scratch can cost you as much as $1,000 to $3,000. Thankfully, car insurance is for these specific scenarios. It’s important to take the right steps if you find that someone hit your parked car and left you to deal with it.

Scenario: someone hit my parked car and left a note

If you find yourself in the situation: “my car was hit while parked on the street,” and someone left a note on your window, consider yourself somewhat lucky. There are many instances in which a person damages another vehicle and leaves without providing their information. Here are the steps you should take:

Review the note

Look at the note and check the information provided. The individual hopefully left you their contact and insurance information. If just their name and number was provided, you may be able to call them for the necessary insurance information. 

Gather evidence

Take photos of the damage and the note, if one was provided — your insurance company will need all the details possible to know how to proceed. Be sure to document the time you believe the damage happened. Look around to see if there are any possible witnesses who may have seen what happened and if anyone was present, write down their version of what happened and their contact information. 

Contact the police to file a police report

If the damage is more severe than a few scratches, contact the police to file an accident report. Some states — such as Alabama — require you to file a report for damages of $250 or more. Many states require a police report for damages over $1,000.

Notify your insurance company

Gather your photos, police report and contact info for the person that left you a note and contact your insurance company. Your insurer will guide you on how to file a claim.

Scenario: hit-and-run accident with a parked car

If your situation is: “someone hit my parked car and drove off,” leaving you with a damaged vehicle and no idea of who did it, the steps are similar to above. You’ll need to gather as much information as you can to provide as evidence to your insurance company before you move the vehicle. 

Finding any witnesses who can help law enforcement locate the culprit is especially helpful if someone hit your car and drove away. Otherwise, your insurance company will classify the incident as a hit and run with an uninsured driver. In that case, you’d need to have collision or uninsured driver insurance to repair the damage to your vehicle.

Scenario: I hit a parked car and left no damage

If you hit another unattended vehicle, even if there is no damage, the right thing to do is to stop and leave a note with your contact information. You may believe there is no damage but maybe can’t see it. If you’re certain there is none, you could document where you struck the vehicle by taking a photo for safekeeping when you leave a note, verifying you are not liable for any damages.

Scenario: what if you’re injured in your parked car?

If you were in the parked vehicle when the accident occurred and suffered an injury, call the police right away so they can assess the accident. Depending on the injury, you may need medical assistance or an ambulance. As with all other incidents, take photos, exchange information, look for witnesses and notify your insurance company. 

How to file a claim after someone hits your parked car

The more information you can gather at the time the accident occurred, the better. Make sure to gather details about the other vehicle and driver if possible: name, phone number and license plate. Your smartphone camera is really handy — take photos of the involved party’s license and take photos or video of damages and the location of where it happened. 

Once you’ve gathered as much information as possible, including an accident report from the police, call your insurance company or file a claim online and upload all your supporting evidence. Refer to the following table to find the claims contact information for some of the top car insurers.

ProviderLink/phone number for filing claim
AllstateOnline, (800) ALLSTATE (800-255-7828)
FarmersOnline, (800) 435-7764 
GeicoOnline, (800) 841-3000
NationwideOnline, (877) On Your Side (877-669-6877)
ProgressiveOnline, (800) 776-4737
State FarmOnline, (800) SF-CLAIM (800-732-5246)
USAAOnline, (800) 531-USAA ( 800-531-8722)

How car insurance will cover you

If someone hits your car and takes responsibility for it, their insurance will pay for repairing your vehicle. However, how you were parked affects the outcome. If you were incorrectly or illegally parked, the insurer may not pay for your repair. And if the police are involved, you may be held liable for the accident if you were not properly parked and may have to pay for the other vehicle’s damages.

If you were involved in a hit and run in which your car is damaged but you don’t know who did it or how it happened, your car insurance company will classify the incident as an uninsured motorist accident. You’ll be responsible for the accident, even if you weren’t at fault. 

If you have collision or uninsured motorist coverage, insurance will step in to pay for the repair — after you pay the deductible. If you don’t have either coverage, you’ll have to pay for damages out of pocket.

If you were the driver that caused damage to a parked vehicle, your insurance will step in to cover the other car’s damages after you pay the deductible. If your car needs repairs as well, you’d need to have collision insurance for that to be covered.

Will insurance rates go up after someone hits your parked car?

Even if an accident involves a parked car, your insurance company still considers it an accident. If you were responsible for hitting a parked vehicle, or were in a hit and run and don’t know who damaged your parked car, your insurance rates could go up an average of 34%.

If you are worried about your car insurance rates going up after your car was damaged by a hit and run, think twice before you file a claim with your insurance company. You may be better off paying for your damages out of pocket to avoid a possible rate increase.

The takeaway

  • If your car is hit while parked, it’s important to document the damage and file a claim with your insurance company.
  • Each state sets a dollar amount to determine when you should file a police report. In most cases, damages over $1,000 require filing an official accident report.
  • Your car insurance may go up if your car is involved in a hit and run, even if the accident is not your fault.

Conclusion

Dents, scratches and other damages are the unfortunate side effects of parking in public places. Unfortunately, even a small dent or scratch can be expensive to repair. If you hit a parked vehicle, you should leave a note on the car with your information. 

If someone hits your car, they’ve hopefully left you a note so you may file a claim with their insurance company to have your vehicle repaired. Otherwise, if someone hits and runs on your parked car, you may have to pay for the damages out of pocket if the offending driver can’t be identified.

Cynthia Paez Bowman

Writer

Cynthia splits her time between Los Angeles, CA and San Sebastian, Spain. She travels to Africa and the Middle East regularly to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development.

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