I hit a parked car. What should I do?

If you’ve hit a parked car, there’s a right and a wrong way to deal with it. Here’s what to do…

If you’ve hit a parked car, there’s a right and a wrong way to deal with it. Here’s what to do…

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
4
minute read
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Posted 23 JULY 2021

What to do if you hit a parked car

Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to bump a parked vehicle. But, as with any car accident, there’s a right and a wrong way to tackle the situation. Don’t break the law by driving off; follow these steps instead.

Stop

Don’t leave the scene, even it’s only a minor scrape. If you drive away without stopping, you’ll be guilty of an offence under the Road Traffic Act. Turn off your car engine and, if needed, turn on your hazard lights.

Leave your details

You’ll need to leave your name and address, as well as your car registration number. If you’re not the car owner, be sure to leave their details.  

If the driver of the parked car isn’t around, you can leave this info on a piece of paper under the car’s windscreen wiper – along with an apology. 

Report the incident

According to the Road Traffic Act, you need to report an accident to the police within 24 hours. Don’t call 999. Instead dial 101, the non-emergency police number.

Take notes

Write down details that might be useful for insurance purposes. Make note of the time, date and location of the accident, as well as the weather conditions. Take photos of the damage. Or, if you don’t have a camera phone, sketch out what happened. 

Contact your insurance provider

Call your insurance provider as soon as you can, even if you’re not planning to make a claim. Give them the details, along with any photos, and the contact details of any witnesses.  
 
If the damage is something very minor, like a small scratch or a chipped wing mirror, you might choose not to make a claim, since doing so could increase next year’s insurance premium
 
Around two-thirds of UK motorists have had their cars bumped in car parks. It happens a lot, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Just make sure you do the right thing if it happens when you’re behind the wheel.   

What happens if you hit a parked car and drive off? 

If you don’t stop, you may well hear from the police. There could be CCTV or witnesses who can prove you were at the scene. Even if you prang a car on a deserted street at night, make sure you leave your details or report the incident. Otherwise, you could be prosecuted for careless driving, failing to stop and failing to report an accident. That’s a hefty fine and points on your licence. 

Frequently asked questions

What should I do if someone hits my parked car and drives away?

If somebody hits your parked car and drives away without leaving a note, you should call your insurance provider. Even if you don’t intend to make a claim, it’s important to update your provider about any damage to your car. If you don’t, you could end up invalidating your cover
 
If you decide to make a claim you’ll need to gather as much information as possible about the incident. Ask people nearby if they saw anything and take photos of the damage. You can also check to see if there are any cameras around that may captured footage of the prang. 
 
Remember to make a note of the time and date, and the location of your parked car, and call non-emergency police number 101 within 24 hours to report the accident. 

What happens if I don’t tell my insurance company about damage to my car?

If you don’t report damage caused to your car while it’s parked, or after you hit a parked car, your insurance may become invalid. This would mean that you’d have to pay for repairs yourself on future claims, even if you weren’t at fault.

Is it illegal to not give your details after hitting a parked car?

Yes, it’s illegal for a driver to hit a car and not leave their details.  
 
After causing damage to another vehicle, drivers must stop to give their name and address, details about their vehicle and the name and address of the car owner if they’re not there. 
 
According to the Road traffic Act, anyone who fails to comply ‘is guilty of an offence’. 

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