At a glance:

  • If you’ve hit and damaged a parked car, don’t freak out, but do take responsibility and follow our handy steps to putting things right
  • Learn why you can’t just leave the scene if you’ve hit a parked car and caused damage
  • Understand the steps you need to take if someone’s hit your car – whether they’ve left their details or not
  • We’ll guide you on how to approach your insurance company if you’ve hit a parked car, or been hit by a parked car

Most of us have accidentally hit a parked car at some stage in our lives, and although we may not like to admit it, hitting another person’s parked car can be a stressful experience for all parties. Equally, it’s just as likely you may have experienced it in reverse.

Whether the incident has resulted in a scratch, dent or bump, you’ll likely be asking yourself what to do if you hit a parked car, or what to do when someone hits your parked car? Luckily, here at Motors, we’ve got the answers you need.

Past research revealed that 40% of motorists have admitted to damaging another driver’s car in a car park and leaving the scene, also known as a ‘hit and run’. Accidents happen, but if you’re the one who hit a parked car (and the owner is not in sight), taking responsibility is the right thing to do. In fact, it’s not only the right thing to do but the legal thing to do. 

As an FYI: It is 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 provide their name and address, as well as details of their vehicle if the driver of the affected car is not there.

If you drive off, you may well be contacted by the police – after all, there may be witnesses, or you may have been caught on CCTV. The best thing to do is keep calm, follow our instructions, and be as honest as possible. 

If, on the other hand, you’ve noticed that someone has bumped into your parked car, what you need to do will differ; however, you should still act swiftly and calmly. Read on to find out what to do in both scenarios.

Driver hit a parked car

What to do if you’ve hit a parked car and caused damage?

Here are our five tips to follow if you’ve accidentally bumped someone’s car and caused damage:

  1. DON’T panic. Whilst it can be a scary situation, try to treat this as you would any other accident. Even if the accident is only minor and all you did was scratch a parked car, you should always pop your hazard lights on, stop your car, and park safely nearby. Then, take a photo of any damage to their car and yours. You do not need your hazard warning lights on if you are parked safely and not obstructing anything or anyone.
  2. DO leave a note under the car’s windscreen wiper apologising and offering up your name, address, phone number and an explanation of the accident – honesty is always the best policy. If you have the time, a better option would be to wait for the owner to return so you can talk to them about what happened and decide between you the best course of action to take.
  3. DO take a note of information about the vehicle – make, model and licence plate. Also, note down any special circumstances that contributed to the accident (for example slippery roads, no light, vehicle sticking out).
  4. DON’T just leave without giving your information. If you do get caught and haven’t owned up, you could end up committing an offence under the road traffic act for careless driving or failing to report an accident.

5. DO decide with the third party whether you want to contact your insurance company or pay the repair bill yourself – but bear in mind that your insurer may require you to notify them of any accidents, even if it’s only minor and you don’t want to make a claim. It’s good to avoid making a claim if you can avoid it, as this may result in a raised premium for the next year and the loss of your no-claims bonus.

 Is it against the law to drive away after hitting a parked car?

The short answer is yes, it is against the law to drive off after hitting a parked car. This is known as a hit and run offence (Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act) and the penalties are significant. You could face 5 – 10 penalty points on your licence, up to a £5,000 fine and a potential prison sentence of up to six months. It’s therefore really important to let the owner of the car know, and report the accident.

Hit car with no damage

What to do if you accidentally hit a parked car and cause no damage

Technically speaking, if you’re sure you haven’t caused damage after hitting a parked car, then there’s no financial responsibility to you. There is no legal precedent to say that you must leave a note with your information, nor inform the vehicle owner. 

Having said that, just because you can’t see damage to the vehicle, does not mean you didn’t cause damage which you can’t see. For example, there could be damage to the suspension or the vehicle frame. If someone saw you hit a parked car, they can still report you, and you could still end up getting prosecuted. For this reason, despite there being no legal obligation to report the accident, it’s still a good idea to do so.

What to do if someone hits your parked car and leaves a note

If someone hits or scratches your parked car, try not to panic. Treat it as an accident, and follow our steps:

  • Stay with your car, and check if they’ve left a note
  • Take photos of the damage
  • If you’ve found a note which includes their contact information, call your insurance company and let them know – file a claim if necessary
  • Look for any witnesses who may be able to provide additional information

Broken glass

What to do if someone hits your parked car and doesn’t leave a note

If somebody hits your parked car and doesn’t leave a note, the accident can be considered a hit-and-run. This is a crime, so contact the police as soon as possible to file a report. They might be able to help you identify who hit your car if there were witnesses or any CCTV in the area. 

Depending on the state of the car, you might be able to claim on collision or Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) cover.

Calling insurance to report a car being hit

Should you report someone hitting your parked car?

It depends on whether the driver left their details or not. If they did, you can simply contact your insurance company to inform them of the incident and decide whether you want to make a claim or ask that the driver responsible cover repair costs. If you’ve noticed damage to your car but the driver didn’t leave any details,  you can and should report the situation as a hit-and-run. 

There’s a chance that the police may be able to find out who did it by looking at nearby CCTV or appealing for witnesses. Not to mention it is illegal to drive off after bumping a car and causing damage, so in this case, it should always be reported.

Should you inform your insurance if you hit a parked car?

If you hit a parked car and are at fault, the owner of the car you hit may insist on going through your respective insurance companies. If this is the case, there is little you can do to stop it, and you should contact your insurers to give them a heads-up and provide information on the accident.

Sometimes though, both drivers may be happy to settle the issue without contacting insurers. The owner of the car you hit may just want you to cover the damages. If you can do this, it’s often the better option, as there’s a high chance your insurance rates will increase. This is because insurers view hitting a parked car as the same as a road collision. You’ll most likely be found at fault and therefore your premiums will increase and you may lose your no-claims bonus.

When it comes to insurance, if you have a car with dashcams, it’s worth checking whether your provider offers a discount. Dashcams can be useful in not only helping you park more safely, but in settling disputes, and with some insurance providers, it’ll drop your premiums too.


Related articles & advice