20% of auto accidents occur in parking lots.
Even though parking lot accidents typically occur at slow speeds and do not usually result in serious damage or injury, they can increase auto insurance rates, even if you were not 100% responsible for the accident. In Texas, if your insurance company determines that you were even partially responsible for a parking lot accident (or any car accident), it is considered an at-fault accident and can result in a surcharge on your auto policy.
Here are 7 tips on how to avoid parking lot accidents or what to do if you find yourself involved in one.
1. Park Strategically
Due to the number of parking lot claims that insurance adjusters see regularly, I have heard that most adjusters will tell you when they park their own cars in parking lots, they make a point of backing into a parking space or pulling through to face forward. This small maneuver significantly reduces the odds of having an accident while backing out of a parking space, which is the most common type of parking lot claim.
2. Avoid Distractions
Drivers tend to let their guard down in a parking lot, because they are usually driving slowly and preparing to stop. Texting, talking on the phone, or even rolling up the window increases the likelihood of a fender bender or worse in a parking lot. Since there are so many vehicles and pedestrians moving at the same time, it’s especially important to stay focused and alert in a parking lot.
3. Be Aware and Show Intentions
Make sure you use your turn signal and show your intentions to other drivers and pedestrians before turning into a parking space or backing out of one.
If you find yourself in a parking lot accident, follow these steps:
Notify the Police or Security
It’s not always possible for the police to come to the scene of a parking lot accident, especially if there are no injuries and minimal property damage, but it’s always helpful when filing a claim to have documentation regarding an accident. If you can’t get a police report, try to find witnesses who are willing to make a statement to your insurance company. Write down as many details as you can immediately following the accident. Draw a diagram of where the cars were before and after contact. Write down everything you remember, including words that were exchanged.
Never Admit Fault
It’s best to let the insurance adjusters determine who is at-fault. Remember in parking lot accidents, it is common for the accident to be considered 50-50 fault, in which case your own insurance company pays for your damages and the other driver’s insurance pays for his property damage (assuming he has insurance, as it’s estimated that 25% of Texas drivers do not have insurance). If the adjuster determines you have any responsibility beyond 0%, your policy will most likely be surcharged, causing your rates to go up at your next renewal.
Find A Witness
Stories change and memories fade days or weeks after an accident when the insurance companies get involved. People who said they were not hurt at the accident scene will claim injuries later. Having an unbiased and objective third party statement can be very helpful in determining what really happened and who was at-fault. Make sure you get their name and contact information.
Pictures speak a thousand words, so let the pictures do the talking instead of you! Pictures have saved the auto rates of thousands of drivers, so don’t forget to take pictures after an accident. Of course, if there are injuries, call 911 immediately and let the police document what happened.