A driver has hit your car while you were in the store, and now there’s damage! What should you do? In most cases, the most important thing you can do is to stay calm and gather all of the important information about the incident. Documentation is very important for any situation that involves an insurance claim. Below are two common scenarios that address the question, “What to do if someone hits my parked car?” and suggestions for how you should respond.
Scenario # 1: A Motorist Hits Your Car and Leaves the Scene
You walk out to find someone has hit your parked car and left the scene! There is obvious damage, but it’s apparent the other driver has taken off without leaving a note. The first thing you should do is to call the local police to report the incident and have a police report created to document what has occurred. It’s against the law in Pennsylvania for a driver to damage property and leave the scene of the accident. A police officer will write up an official accident report and assess if there is an opportunity to gather more information by doing investigative work to try to locate the other driver.
If your car is parked in a parking garage or in the lot of a local business, there’s a good chance there will be video surveillance that may have recorded the accident and the license plate of the other vehicle involved. Also, look around to see if anyone may have seen the accident as it occurred, who could act as a potential witness. Next, if you wish to make a claim, you’ll want to contact your insurance carrier and report the accident. Take pictures of the damage to your car to send to your claims representative, and review your policy coverage. Depending on the coverage and deductible you have purchased, you may only need to pay your deductible, with your insurance company covering the remainder of the repair expense. If you haven’t purchased collision coverage, then the cost of the repair will have to be covered in full by you, unless the driver responsible for the damage is eventually identified.
Scenario # 2: The Driver Leaves a Note
You may find that someone has hit your parked car and caused damage, but you notice a note on your windshield from the other driver with their contact information. Sometimes accidents happen, but at least the other driver was honest and left you with contact information, which gives you some recourse to have your car repair costs covered by the other driver’s insurance company. This situation may elevate your blood pressure a little, but you should call this person in order to obtain some personal and insurance policy information. After speaking with the driver who hit your parked car, you need to contact your insurance carrier to report the accident. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the damage and submit them, along with the policy details of the other driver, to your insurance carrier. If no police report has been written at the scene, you will probably be asked to describe the scene and the incident over the phone, on a form provided by the insurer, or both.
Information to Gather When Someone Hits Your Parked Car
Regardless of the situation involving damage to your parked car, it will be important to gather as much information as possible about the other driver and the surroundings. Failure to collect information may delay the claims process. Think in terms of who, what, when, where and why. The following are some key pieces of information about the other driver you’ll want to have ready for your insurance carrier after someone hits your parked car:
- Name of the Driver
- Mailing Address
- Home and Cell Numbers
- Car Insurance PolicyInformation
- Location of Accident
- Time of Day
- Weather Conditions
- Witness Testimony
- Pictures of Damage
- Police Report
- Date of the Accident
The more information you’re able to provide to your insurance carrier, the better. Most of the information you’ll need can be gathered by simply using your cell phone to take pictures of the other driver’s insurance card and damage to all cars involved in the accident.
Should You Call the Police, or Handle This Privately?
If someone hits your car and it’s apparent that that person has fled the scene, then you should contact the police immediately to report that a hit-and-run driver caused damage to your car. However, if the other driver leaves a note or sticks around to let you know what happened, should you still call the police? The benefit of calling the police is that it provides you with a detailed police report, which generally serves as legal documentation of the accident.
The downside of calling the police may be that you get the same result but expend a significantly increased amount of time waiting for the police to arrive and answering a series of questions. Depending on other calls that police in your area may be responding to, the dispatcher may ask if both vehicles are drivable and determine that police intervention is not necessary. Remember that every situation is different, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Which Insurance Carrier Should You Call?
If your parked car has been damaged by another driver, you should contact your insurance carrier to report the claim. Even though the accident isn’t your fault, starting the claims process with your carrier has great advantages as opposed to you calling the insurance carrier of another driver. When you have suffered a loss, it’s in your best interest to contact your carrier first and let them “represent” you by communicating with the other party’s carrier. There are times when both you and the other driver are doing business with the same insurance carrier, which may expedite the claims process.
Which Insurance Carrier Pays to Repair Your Car?
While it may not seem fair, the answer to this question depends on the situation. If you have the personal and insurance information of the driver who hit your parked car, then the insurance carrier of that person will generally pay for damages to your vehicle. However, you may find that the other driver doesn’t carry adequate coverage to pay the cost of repairs, which may result in your insurance carrier covering the claim with your uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage (UM/UIM), provided you carry that line of protection in your auto policy.
If another driver hits your parked car and leaves without a trace, then you will need to file a claim with your insurance carrier and your insurance policy will most likely pay to have your damaged car repaired, depending on the auto coverage you have in force and your deductible amount. For example, collision insurance pays for the repairs of your damaged vehicle regardless of who’s at fault. If you are not able to locate the driver who struck your car and fled, your only option will be to file a claim with your insurance carrier and request the damages to be repaired (provided you have collision coverage in your policy).
Final Thoughts on Reporting Damage to Your Parked Car
Accidents are not pleasant to deal with, but how you respond is crucial in determining the best possible outcome. Be sure to take pictures and gather details that will be helpful in determining damage, coverage and cost of repairs. Remember to contact your insurance carrier immediately to report the accident and to review the auto insurance coverage you have in force. Plymouth Rock Assurance delivers industry-leading claims service and Door to Door Valet Claim Service® to make your life easier. If you have questions about your current policy and want to review your coverages, contact us today!
Plymouth Rock Assurance® and Plymouth Rock® are brand names and service marks used by separate underwriting, managed insurance, and management companies that offer property and casualty insurance in multiple states. Insurance in Pennsylvania is underwritten by Palisades Insurance Company, Palisades Property and Casualty Insurance Company, High Point Preferred Insurance Company, and Rider Insurance Company. Each company is a separate legal entity that is financially responsible only for its own insurance products. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued by each separate company.