Ask ERIE: How Does Insurance Cover Parking Lot Accidents?

parking lot accident

The holiday season is nearly here, which means many shoppers will be driving in and out of store parking lots for the better part of a month. All that activity can up anyone’s chances of being in a parking lot accident. Which may lead you wonder: How does insurance cover parking lot accidents?

If you damage someone else’s car in any way, it’s your responsibility—and possibly even the law—to leave a note if the other driver is still shopping.

“Not leaving a note is considered a hit-and-run in the vast majority of states,” says Dave Freeman, vice president and manager of Personal Lines Underwriting at ERIE. This applies even if it’s just a small scratch.

Unfortunately, some people won’t do the right thing. If you return to a dented or dinged car, you can ask around to see if there were any witnesses. If there aren’t any, ask the store if they have security cameras. “More and more stores are investing in cameras, which is giving investigators  an opportunity to review an accident,” says Dave.

Sticky situations

An at-fault driver’s auto insurance should cover the property damage they caused to the other vehicle. If the incident is a hit-and-run—or if the at-fault driver has no auto insurance or not enough insurance—you’ll have to rely on your own auto insurance to cover the damage. That’s assuming you purchased optional collision coverage on your own vehicle. Also, uninsured motorist property damage coverage that is available in some states protects your car if it’s struck by a hit-and-run driver. (A deductible may apply.)

Just keep in mind that you’ll likely need uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This insurance coverage is optional in some states and mandatory in others. It covers you and your passengers’ damages if you’re injured by a hit-and-run driver, an uninsured driver or a driver who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. An insurance agent like an Erie Insurance agent can tell you more about this important coverage.

There is usually an at-fault driver when there’s a parking lot accident. But there are some cases where an accident is two drivers’ fault—for instance, two people may back out at the same time and hit each other. What typically happens in these cases is that each driver files a claim with their own insurance company.

Prevent ding, dents and accidents

From slowing down to parking at a distance from other cars, there are lots of ways to help prevent parking lot accidents. Yet nothing is foolproof. If you do get in a parking lot accident, Dave recommends not leaving a nasty note or getting into an argument—things can quickly get out of control. Instead, simply take down the contact information of any witnesses and call your insurance company.

Instances like these show how important the right auto insurance is. Talk to an expert like an Erie Insurance agent in your community to learn more about getting the right coverage for your car.

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