Picture this… you’re out enjoying brunch at a lovely restaurant with your friend. Things are dandy until you find your parked car, with a knocked bumper and a broken taillight.
They hit your vehicle – did they leave a note?
What should you do now?
Will your car insurance cover this?
Do you even have insurance?
No one ever likes a parking lot accident hit and run! Here are some tips on what to do if someone hits your parked car.
Firstly, What Is A Hit And Run?
Hit and run accidents are classified when the person who hit your parked vehicle, or a pedestrian flees the scene without providing their contact details to the parties involved. It is considered a criminal offence, and the offending driver could face charges of negligent or reckless driving.
What To Do In A Hit And Run Parked Car Situation?
When a driver hits a parked car, they are required to make an effort imposed by law to identify the owner of the vehicle or leave a written notice.
What To Do When Someone Hits Your Parked Car: Steps To Take At The Scene
If you find yourself in a hit and run situation while you’re driving, you should pull over, off the road and switch your hazard lights on. Don’t chase after the offending driver and don’t leave the scene of the accident.
When you’re involved in a hit and run while parked, you need to gather as much information as possible. Collecting information can help the police identify the driver as well as improve the chances of your claim to the Road Accident Fund (RAF) or insurance companies paying out.
Keep in mind that if a person wants to claim for the damaged property (through RAF), he or she will need to give a claim in court against the negligent driver of the motor vehicle.
As soon as you find that your vehicle has been damaged, you should follow these steps on what to do if someone hits your car.
1. Assess The Damage
Assess and review the extent of damage to the vehicle. Look out for any evidence such as skid marks or damage to anything surrounding your vehicle.
2. Take Photos Of The Damage
It would help if you took photographs or a video of the scene of the accident (from all angles) – Any damage to your vehicle and the surrounding area. Taking pictures of the evidence will be beneficial in your claims case.
3. Gather Witness Statements
Look around the area the car had been hit to find any witnesses. Try to get their names and any contact information.
4. Call The Police Or Go To The Police Station
If someone is injured at the scene of the hit, call the emergency services. If there is no one injured, but your vehicle was damaged, you should go to the police station and file a hit and run police report within 24 hours of the incident.
An officer will document the accident and create an official accident report. You will need this when you are filling out your claim with your insurance company.
Keep in mind to ask for a copy of the accident report from the officer who assisted you.
5. Notify Your Insurance Company
Notify your insurance company that your car has had a hit and run incident. Contacting your insurer as soon as possible can help expedite the claim process. Your insurance agent will assist you with what you need when filing a claim. If you were driving a company vehicle, you would need to contact the business’s insurance company.
Note: If the driver who hit your parked car left a note, you should share the information they provided with both your insurer and with the police officer, to settle the claim appropriately.
File An Insurance Claim – If Someone Hit Your Car
If you’re able to identify the car or person who hit your vehicle, you should get their insurance company details. Then you should file a third-party claim with their insurance company. This way, you can claim the damages under the offending driver’s coverage.
If you’re unable to identify the offending person, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company. Depending on the policy your insurance covers, they may be able to help with the costs of repairing the damage to your vehicle. Here are two protection coverages that could protect you from a hit and run on your parked car:
Comprehensive vehicle insurance is the most expensive cover option available, and for good reason. It covers your vehicle for damage, theft and hijackings. It also includes damage to the other person vehicle in an accident – even if you are responsible.
Third-Party, Fire and Theft Cover
This type of cover is similar to the comprehensive car insurance cover, except it does not cover you for any accidental damage you do to your car. If your vehicle is damaged by a hijacking, or fire you are covered. However, if you damaged your car or were involved in an accident, you will not be paid out.
Third-Party Only Cover
The balance of third-party cover does not insure you for damage to your vehicle. However, it covers the cost of damage to the other vehicle involved (or if you hit a parked car) in an accident that you caused. This insurance is the most limited form of cover.
Someone Hit My Parked Car And Drove Off
According to the South African Insurance Association (SAIA), 65 per cent of South African motorists are uninsured. Property damage liability, uninsured motorist cover, and comprehensive coverage are some fantastic vehicle insurance benefits available to protect you and your vehicle.
When a hit and run accident with a parked car occurs, and the driver took off after hitting your car, you can still recover the damages – as long as you follow procedures. You should contact your insurer who can guide you through the claims process.