Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about auto insurance coverage and hitting a parked car.
Parking Lot Collisions Are Treated Like Any Road Collision
The first and most important thing to know is that, generally speaking, your insurance company will treat a parking lot collision just like an ordinary road collision.
Your car insurance policy covers you equally on private property – like a company’s parking lot – and public property – like a city street. No matter where you have your accident, your insurance company will treat your claim in a similar way: the company will investigate the claim, determine who is at-fault, calculate losses, then pay damages accordingly.
If you have basic liability insurance, then your insurance company will pay for damages you cause to other property – like someone’s parked car. Basic liability insurance also covers the medical expenses of those involved in an accident. However, damage to your own vehicle will not be covered under a basic liability insurance plan.
Damage to your own vehicle will only be covered if you have collision insurance. If you don’t have collision insurance, then you’ll need to pay for repairs out of pocket.
How to Determine Fault in a Parking Lot Collision
Most states in America are tort states when it comes to car insurance law. Only 12 states are no-fault states. If you live in a no-fault state, then your own insurance company will cover your own damages without determining who is at fault.
In most states, however, insurance companies will work to determine fault in a parking lot collision. The insurance company will use a set of rules to determine fault in a parking lot collision.
The rules for a parking lot collision are similar to the rules of a road collision.
If you hit a parked car, for example, then you’re automatically at-fault for that collision. You are automatically at fault any time you hit a car that is legally parked.
Unless the driver of the parked car was parked illegally, your insurance company will determine that you were at-fault for the collision.
Similarly, you will likely be found at-fault if you hit a vehicle from behind in a parking lot.
Parking Lot Collisions Have a Few Unique Rules
There are some rules that are unique to parking lot collisions. Parking lots are one of the only areas where drivers can back into one another, for example. This typically doesn’t happen in a road collision. If a car backs into you, then the front of your car technically hit the back of the other car, which typically means you’re at fault. However, this would not be the case with most parking lot collisions where the other driver is backing up into you.
The insurance company might also consider the rules of the parking lot. There may or may not be appropriate stop signs in the parking lot, for example, and right of way can get confusing. Some parking lots have one-way aisles, while others have two-way aisles. Some aisles are considered throughways, while others are considered secondary lanes.
Insurance companies may refer to these two aisle types as “thoroughfares” and “feeder lanes”. A thoroughfare is a lane that connects directly to a road or highway. A feeder lane, meanwhile, is every other lane in the parking lot. Drivers in feeder lanes are required to yield to drivers in thoroughfare lanes – even if there’s no stop sign or other markings.
There’s one other thing to note about parking lots: they’re typically filled with more distractions than a city street. There are pedestrians and shopping carts in parking lots, for example.
Will My Rates Go Up After a Parking Lot Accident?
If you hit a car in a parking lot, and you file an insurance claim, then this claim will be treated like any at-fault collision. You’ll need to pay your deductible, and then your insurance company will raise your rates accordingly. You’re considered to be a higher risk than a driver that has never been in an accident.
The increase in rates will vary between insurance companies. Some insurance companies have accident forgiveness, in which case a single at-fault collision might not cause rates to go up.
If you want to avoid higher rates after a parking lot accident, then you can choose not to report the collision to your insurance company. In many cases, it’s better to pay to repair damages out of pocket.
What Happens If Someone Hits My Parked Car in a Parking Lot?
If someone hits your parked car in a parking lot, then the other person’s insurance policy may cover any damages to your vehicle.
Of course, many parking lot collisions are hit-and-runs. Drivers might not leave a note, for example. In this case, your insurance company will treat it as a hit-and-run accident. If you have collision coverage then you may not be held at-fault. However, you may still have to pay a deductible to make your insurance claim.
Conclusion: Drive Carefully In a Parking Lot!
Ultimately, it’s important to drive carefully when you’re in a parking lot. There are plenty of hazards you can encounter – from pedestrians to shopping carts to other vehicles. Hitting a parked car in a parking lot can be an expensive mistake – but your insurance policy will likely cover the incident just like they would cover a collision on a road.