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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…

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
6 MARCH 2023
4 min read
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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.

1. Stop

Don’t leave the scene, even it’s only a minor scrape. Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act states that if you’re involved in an accident that causes injury to another person or damage to another vehicle, property or animal – you must stop or you’ll be committing an offence. Pull over safely, turn off your car engine and, if needed, turn on your hazard lights.

2. 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 the owner’s details.   

If the driver of the parked car isn’t around and you can’t leave your details, dial 101 (the non-emergency police number) and report the incident instead.

3. 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, as they only deal with emergencies. Instead dial 101, the non-emergency police number.

4. 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. If you don’t have a camera phone, it may be worth getting the contact details of a witness who can support your version of events or sketching what happened.

5. 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 often, 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.

Did you know?
Damage to a parked vehicle is one of the most common causes for car insurance claims in the UK. Typical examples include accidentally denting another car when opening a door in a car park and scraping a parked vehicle when pulling out of a tight space.

Other top claims include rear-end collisions and windscreen damage.

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. 

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 could also check to see if there are any cameras around that might have captured footage of the prang – a local shop may be helpful in providing footage from their CCTV. 
Remember to make a note of the time and date, and the location of your parked car, and call the non-emergency police number 101 within 24 hours to report the accident.

Frequently asked questions

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.

Will my insurance go up if I hit a parked car?

Unfortunately, yes, it’s most likely your premium will go up, even if you don’t make a claim. This is because there’s a higher risk of you having an accident and making a claim in the future.

Will I lose my no-claims bonus if someone hits my parked car?

If you make a claim on your insurance for any damage to your car while it was parked, it’s likely you’ll lose your no-claims bonus, 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 under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act.   
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. 

What are the penalties for driving away after hitting a parked car?

Anyone who fails to stop and give their details after hitting a car is guilty of a ‘hit and run’ offence.  
The penalties are severe. You could face a fine of up to £5,000, five to ten penalty points on your licence and, in the worst case, up to six months in prison.

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