What to do when someone hits your parked car
9 March 2023
Whether you saw it all happen, the culprit left a note, or it’s an unfortunate hit-and-run, finding your parked car damaged is always unpleasant. The 2022 AAMI Crash Index revealed that 42 per cent of AAMI car park insurance claims happened to cars that were parked and unattended.
Dealing with the scene of the accident
Check for injuries
If there was anyone in the car at the time, check to make sure they are okay. For any serious injuries, call 000 immediately.
Exchange information with the other driver
Speak to the other driver involved, if you saw the accident or know who it was, and note their:
- full name
- car registration
- contact info, especially a mobile number, and
- the name of their insurer, or whether they’re uninsured.
Remember, when lodging a claim with Suncorp Insurance, providing at least the full name, address and registration of the at-fault driver makes it more likely that you can have your excess waived – depending on the circumstances of the incident, of course.
If a note has been left on your car, contact the other driver ASAP. Waiting a few days might mean that they have trouble recalling the incident, or might change their mind about helping you settle the damages. Take a photo of the note too, as this may be helpful when lodging your claim.
Determine the extent of damage
You may not always be able to tell how serious the damage is. What might appear as a small dent could have caused internal damage. Check around the impact point and – if possible and safe to do so – take a peek beneath the vehicle to see if any parts have become dislodged.
If the damage is significant, don’t try to drive the vehicle; contact your insurer and have it towed instead.
Documenting the accident
Take photos and video evidence
It’s important to take photos of damage to your vehicle before moving it from its parked location. Try to get photos from many angles, including close-ups and wide shots. Take some of the at-fault vehicle too, if possible. Photograph any debris around the car and show the location where the collision occurred. If your dash cam was turned on at the time, save your footage.
If the incident happened in a shopping centre car park, ask the security services if they could review the CCTV footage. In the case of a hit-and-run they may be able to identify the registration of the vehicle that caused the damage.
Gather information from witnesses
Check whether there are any witnesses and, if so, get their contact details. Obtain their versions of the incident too, as you can provide this to your insurer later if there is a dispute.
Note the time, date and location of the accident and any landmarks that will help identify where the collision took place.
Notifying your insurance provider and authorities
File a police report
If someone hit your car and drove off, it’s vital that you lodge a police report. The police may be able to track down the at-fault driver and obtain their details.
You may also want to lodge a police report when the damage to your car is significant or if the other driver is uninsured. Once you have a police report number, you can provide it to your insurer as part of your claim.
Contact your insurance provider
Whose insurance do you call first? The at-fault driver’s or your own?
If you have Comprehensive Car Insurance, it’s always easier and smarter to get in touch with your own insurer first. After lodging your claim and providing the necessary information, you can begin to relax, knowing your insurer will take care of your vehicle’s repairs. They may also provide you with a hire car while your car is being repaired.
If you have Third Party Car Insurance or Third Party Fire & Theft cover with Suncorp Insurance, and the other driver is uninsured, Suncorp Insurance will cover damage to your vehicle for up to $5,000. For this cover you’ll need to provide the full name and address of the at fault driver and the registration number of the at fault vehicle that has hit your parked car.
How to lodge a claim
It’s easy to lodge a claim online or by using the Suncorp App on both Apple and Android devices.
You can upload photos on your phone directly to the app and include all the details of the accident, then simply follow the step-by-step checklist to finalise lodging your claim.
If you run into any difficulty, our virtual assistant Scout is available 24/7 to answer your questions or connect you with a specialist who can.
When you should contact the other driver's insurer
You can contact the at-fault driver’s insurer if:
- you have Third Party Car Insurance only and they have Comprehensive or Third Party Car Insurance, or
- you are uninsured and the other driver has either Comprehensive or Third Party Car Insurance.
In both cases the at-fault driver needs to lodge a claim with their insurer first before they will fix the damages to your car. Most insurance companies have a dedicated team to help not-at-fault drivers organise repairs.
If neither you nor the at-fault driver is insured, you may have to settle the cost of repairs between each other.
Who is at fault in a car park accident?
Each situation is unique, but generally, if you hit a parked car you are at fault. If you are reversing your car you usually have to give way to all other vehicles on the main thoroughfare and will be at fault if you reverse into another car.
Your insurer will use the evidence provided in your claim lodgement and apply the Australian Road Rules to determine liability. They may ask you additional questions and it’s important to supply as much information as possible to assist them.
If you have any disputes with the liability decision made by your insurer, you can lodge a complaint or speak to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
Once both parties have lodged a claim (if applicable), the insurers will negotiate settlement. If the other driver is deemed at fault and your car has been repaired through your insurer, then the cost of repairs will be recovered by your insurer from their insurer. Sometimes, the repair costs will be negotiated.
If the at-fault driver doesn’t want to lodge a claim or has no insurance, then your insurer will attempt to recover the costs from the third party directly.
Luckily, by this point your car should be back on the road and you can let your insurer handle the rest.
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This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.
The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.