Parking Lot Accidents and Your Insurance

Anytime you are involved in a collision – even a seemingly minor fender-bender – it can impact your auto insurance. That includes if the incident occurs in a parking lot.

It is true parking lots are considered private property, but the rules of the road still apply. If you file a claim following a minor accident that occurred in a parking lot, your auto insurer will handle it the same as any other type of claim: they will investigate, determine fault, and payout damages accordingly.

Does car insurance cover you in a parking lot?

Yes, provided you have collision coverage as part of your insurance policy. If you do not have collision coverage and are at fault for the accident, you are on the hook to pay for any damage to your vehicle.

How is fault determined in a parking lot collision?

As with a collision that occurs on a road or highway, determining fault is done in the same way for an accident in a parking lot. Insurers take statements from drivers and consider the damages to all vehicles involved to determine fault. They will also rely on the fault determination rules, which are predetermined guidelines that adjusters use to determine fault.

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Does a parking lot accident affect your rate?

If you are found to be at fault in a parking lot accident, it will influence your premium unless you have an accident forgiveness clause on your policy, and it applies to the accident in question. Insurance companies do not distinguish between an accident that takes place on private property and one on a public street.

It is also important to note that while parking lots may be private property, legal ramifications to any accident that occurs there can still exist. If you are found to be driving while impaired in a parking lot, for example, you can be charged with that offence. Demerit points to your licence may also apply.

Single-car parking lot accidents and hit-and-run accidents

Damage to cars in parking lots frequently occurs when no other vehicle is involved, or the other driver does not remain at the scene. It could be a single-car accident in which you bump into an object such as a shopping cart or if you open a car door and hit a vehicle parked next to yours.

If you are responsible for the damage due to having struck an object, your claim will be processed under your collision coverage, and you will be at fault for the accident.

If the damage occurred when you were absent, and no note was left, your insurance company will treat it as a hit-and-run accident. If you have collision coverage, you may not be at fault, but you should report the damage to your insurer.

How to avoid a collision in a parking lot

Here are a few tips to help avoid getting in an accident in a parking lot:

  • Don’t be a distracted driver. Avoid using your mobile phone while driving at any time, and that includes in parking lots
  • Drive slowly and always watch out for pedestrians
  • Park your vehicle so that it faces outward, and you do not have to reverse to get out of a parking spot
  • Choose a parking space that is farther away instead of trying to get a spot that is close to the entrance of a store or building