A parking lot is usually a low-speed traffic affair, sometimes outfitted with speed bumps and well-marked crosswalks. But a parking lot can be a busy—sometimes chaotic—confluence of independent actors doing their own thing to the beat of their own drums. A parking lot is also a place where you can get into accidents.
Here’s what to do if your vehicle is involved in a fender bender in a parking lot.
Does Car Insurance Cover Parking Lot Fender Benders?
If you get into a fender bender in a parking lot, there are several car insurance coverage types that could be applicable:
Collision insurance can pay for repairs if your car is damaged in a parking lot fender bender. It can pay for repairs whether you caused the damage (by backing into a pole, for example) or someone crashed into you.
If you cause a fender bender that damages someone else’s car, your car liability insurance can pay for their repairs. If someone in another car gets hurt, liability insurance also covers medical expenses (except in no-fault insurance states) and a legal defense in case you get sued.
Conversely, if someone else crashes into your car, you can make a claim against them under their liability insurance.
Personal injury protection
If you or your passengers get hurt in an accident, your personal injury protection (PIP) can help pay for medical bills and other expenses, like lost wages. PIP is not available in all states. Some states offer “medical payments” coverage, which is similar to PIP, but sold in smaller coverage amounts.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance
If your vehicle is hit by someone who doesn’t carry any or enough car liability insurance, your uninsured motorist insurance (UM) can cover medical expenses for you and your passengers. Uninsured motorist property damage insurance covers damage to your car if it’s hit by someone without car insurance.
Rental reimbursement insurance
If your car is in the shop for repairs under a collision claim, rental reimbursement insurance can pay for a rental car until your car is fixed and back on the road. This is optional coverage.
How Do I File an Insurance Claim If I’m in a Parking Lot Fender Bender?
If you get into a parking lot fender bender, you’ll typically have two options:
File a claim through your auto insurance company
If you have collision insurance on your auto policy, you can file a damage claim through your insurer. Your deductible will apply. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and it costs $2,000 to repair the car, the insurance check will be for $1,500.
If someone else was at fault and you make a claim on your own collision insurance, you may be able to get your deductible back. Your insurance company might go through a process called “subrogation” with the other driver’s insurance company to get reimbursement. You’ll still have to pay the deductible up front.
Other coverage types might apply, like rental reimbursement insurance, or PIP if you or your passengers are hurt in the accident.
File a claim through the other driver’s insurance company
If another driver was at-fault, you can file a claim through their car insurance company against their liability insurance.
Some states have “comparative negligence” laws, where you receive only partial reimbursement if you were partially at fault. The percentage of your reimbursement depends on the specific state law.
If this is the situation, you could instead file a collision claim on your own insurance.
Pedestrian Accidents in Parking Lots
Not all parking lot accidents involve collisions with other cars or objects, like parking barriers. With so much foot traffic, there can also be parking lot accidents involving pedestrians.
If you hit someone in a parking lot and injure them, the person can make a claim against your liability insurance.
Or if you are hit while walking in a parking lot, you can file a claim against the driver’s liability insurance. Or if you have PIP or MedPay coverage, you can turn to that.
What Drivers Admit They Do in Parking Lots
Distracted driving can be a problem in parking lots.
Sixty-six percent of drivers said they make phone calls while driving through parking lots, according to a poll from the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC also found that more than half of the drivers surveyed reported other distracted activities, such as texting, emailing, using social media and programming their GPS while driving.
What people say they do while driving in parking lots
|Action||Percent of drivers|
|Make phone calls||66%|
|Program GPS systems||63%|
|Use social media||52%|
|Send or receive emails||50%|
|Take photos or watch videos||49%|
What to do in a Parking Lot Accident
With so much bustle and distraction in parking lots, it should be no surprise that there are tens of thousands of car crashes that take place in parking lots and garage structures each year in the United States.
Here are steps to take if you’re involved in an accident in a parking lot.
- Don’t flee the scene.
- Exchange information with the other driver.
- Take down notes about the crash so you can tell your insurance company.
- Record the damage through photos or video.
- If the other driver left the scene, check with a nearby store, mall, etc., to see if they have video surveillance that can help you track down the other driver.
- Leave your contact information if you strike a parked car and the owner isn’t nearby. Include your contact information.
- Call the police if needed.
- Contact your insurance company to report the accident.
Tips to Avoid Parking Lot Fender Benders
While a parking lot on a busy day can be be a stressful experience, here are a few tips for decreasing the chances of getting into an accident:
- Drive slowly and obey directional arrows painted on the lot.
- Park between the lines of your spot (don’t take up more than one parking space).
- If possible, park in a spot where you can pull forward instead of backing out.
- If possible, park away from other cars, objects and people.
- Look in both directions and use your mirrors before backing up.
- Take advantage of technology. Rear automatic braking systems bundled with backup cameras and parking sensors can reduce backing crashes by more than 75%. And rear cross-traffic alert sensors can reduce backing crashes by more than 20%, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
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