Ask Anne Marie: If a Car Is Damaged While in a Parking Lot by an Unknown Driver, How Is It Handled by Insurance?

This week’s question to our resident insurance expert, Anne Marie Thomas, comes from Arthur, who inquires how an auto insurance policy applies when a driver’s vehicle is parked in a public lot was damaged by another motorist. Arthur asks:

If one’s car is damaged when parked in a parking lot, and the person who caused the damage is unknown, how is the issue handled by insurance? Is the incident handled as a collision or a compensation claim? Is it treated as an accident on your record that may result in a premium increase?”

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A legally parked car being hit by another driver is among the most common parking lot accidents.

If you have collision coverage (which is optional) as part of your overall policy, that is the portion of your insurance that pays for damage to a vehicle that is parked in a parking lot. If you do not have collision coverage, you are responsible for paying for the repairs to your car. However, there are steps you need to take after the accident occurs.

Anne Marie explains:

The incident is usually treated as a not-at-fault collision claim if you report the incident to either the police or a collision reporting centre within 24 hours. You will likely have to pay the collision deductible, but your premium should not increase at renewal.

“If the incident is not reported to the police, it could be considered to be an at-fault collision claim. In that case, you would pay for the collision deductible and you would have an accident on your record. As a result, your car insurance premium may increase.”