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Been in a parking-lot accident? Here are 6 tips you need to know (Video)

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You may not know this but about one-fifth of all auto accidents happen in parking lots. While these accidents typically don't usually result in serious damage, they still can raise your auto insurance rates.

Here are 6 tips you should follow if you get into a parking lot crash.

1. Keep cool

When a parking-lot accident first occurs, never admit it was your fault and don't argue over who was at fault, says Nancy Germond, an insurance expert from Phoenix.

auto insurance parking lot accident

"It's not productive and can get out of hand. Just exchange names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information, and let your insurance company work it out," Germond says. "Simply say, 'My adjuster will contact you.'" Then call your auto insurance agent or your insurance company's toll-free number.

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2. Call the police

Even if there appears to be no damage to both cars and you're both uninjured, always call the police and file a police report, says Kevin Ross, agency principal at Ross Insurance in Massachusetts. "Three months later, the other party may claim neck injuries and damage to their car," he says, potentially leaving you on the hook for damages.

3. Find witnesses

Look around for witnesses to the accident and ask whether they'd be willing to give you their name or contact number.

"Witnesses can testify to the location of the vehicles," Germond says.

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Witnesses are most valuable in a hit-and-run. If you're lucky, a Good Samaritan will show up and leave the culprit's license plate number on your windshield, Ross says. "In this case, you won't have to pay your deductible and your insurance company will be reimbursed through the at-fault driver," he says.

Unfortunately, if the other person gets away, you must pay the deductible to get your car fixed.

4. Document the scene

Don't move the vehicles until you take pictures. Photograph the skid marks, if any, along with broken glass or other debris.

"Use your smartphone or keep a disposable camera in your glovebox," Germond says. "Take pictures (as many as 10) to show the routes of travel, where you were -- all before you move the cars, if possible. When you get home, diagram what occurred to provide to your insurance adjuster."

5. Determine fault

If you're at fault, you'll pay your deductible and you'll be assigned points, which causes your insurance rates to increase, Ross says. "Your rate will only go up if the accident is determined to be your fault and the damage exceeds $500, although this may vary from state to state," he says.

Determining the at-fault party is easy in some cases. "You're at fault if you're the person entering the flow of traffic -- for example, backing up into traffic from a parking space or a driveway," Ross says.

Often, parking-lot accidents come down to your word against the other driver's. In this case, insurance companies split the fault on a 50-50 basis, Ross says. "Each person pays their deductible," he says, "and no points will be assigned."

6. Be proactive

Avoiding the accident in the first place is your best defense. Keep these pointers in mind:

• Pull into a parking spot where you don't have to back up but can instead pull forward into the lane of travel.

• Buy a car with a backup sensor or backup camera to alert you to objects or people behind you. If your car doesn't come with a backup sensor or camera, consider buying one.

• Before you buy a car, test it extensively for blind spots, as some cars have bigger blind spots than others, making it difficult to see behind you.

• When you're looking at buying a car, rent it for a week first to see how it handles and whether the blind spots cause problems.

• Watch for wind gusts when opening your car door, as they can catch the door, which can hit a car next to you in a parking lot.

• If possible, avoid parking lots at shopping centers and stores on super-busy Saturdays.

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1 Comment

  • rodger ludwigsen said

    15 Critical Minutes
    The new industry standard

    What is the most important action you should take when involved in a motor vehicle accident?
    I asked major insurance companies this very question. You might be surprised to hear that not one insurance company answered correctly. That’s right, 100% of them were wrong. The most common responses were; call 911, exchange information with the other party, take pictures, file a claim, etc. All of these are certainly important, but not the most important action one should take when involved in a motor vehicle accident.
    One insurance company refused to answer. When I asked, “If I were to purchase insurance from your company, what would you tell me is the most important action to take if I am involved in a motor vehicle accident?” I was referred to a supervisor and told to ask my own insurance agent. Is this some kind of industry secret? No, this is basic knowledge that any insurance company should be able to provide without hesitation. Do you know the answer?
    After 27 years as a California Highway Patrol officer and now the president and CEO of Traffic Safety Connections, LLC, I am on a mission to educate drivers and companies. Knowing what to do immediately following a vehicle collision will protect your rights, your assets and even your life. The “15 Critical Minutes” course offered by Traffic Safety Connections, LLC, will save companies and drivers time and money. We’re talking about thousands of dollars.
    Certification in the “15 Critical Minutes” course is the new industry standard for all drivers.
    What is meant by 15 Critical Minutes? 15 minutes is the time it takes for a driver to gather the essential information at the scene of an accident. It’s not just exchanging information which is all the law requires. Remember, the information that you gather at the scene is evidence to support what actually happened. This may clear you of any wrong doing and ensure that the party responsible for the damage to your vehicle and any injuries sustained is held accountable. That is why these 15 minutes are critical.
    How does this relate back to my initial question: What is the most important action you should take when involved in a motor vehicle accident? The answer lies in the 15 Critical Minutes course and covers these three areas: Safety, fraudulent collisions, and gathering information.
    Now you know. The answer to the most important action is ensuring your personal safety! My course will make you aware of circumstances that you may face by placing you in different scenarios and training you on how you should react. For example, what should you do if your vehicle becomes disabled after a collision? Does the answer change if you are in a high traffic area verses a county road? What about if it is during the day or at night? How you respond can mean the difference between a minor collision remaining a minor collision or escalating into a fatality. Many other safety considerations are emphasized throughout the course.
    The media has addressed the problem of fraud and recognized that it is costing billions of dollars each year. Law enforcement, as a general rule, does not respond to “minor” accidents, so you cannot rely on them for help. If you are not prepared you may be vulnerable to fraud.
    Knowledge is power. You will learn how to recognize the characteristics of fraud and protect yourself from these criminal acts.
    You will need to gather accurate information. This may mean getting statements from witnesses. If you asked me for a statement about an event that we both saw, would you correct me if I said something wrong, or left something out? If you did, it wouldn’t be my statement. It would be our statement. In the 15 Critical Minutes course, you are taught the importance of getting a statement from witnesses and creating your own statement about the events surrounding the motor vehicle accident.
    Pictures can be very valuable in supporting your claim. You might think to take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, but what other evidence might exist? In the course, you will learn to identify physical evidence and to properly photograph the scene.
    Every driver and every company that employs drivers needs to know the information provided in the 15 Critical Minutes course.
    It is the new standard for all drivers.
    For more information or to have Rodger at your next speaking engagement, you can contact him at:
    Rodger Ludwigsen, CHP (retired)
    Contact directly at: (530) 949-5123

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