Discovering the Damage
Unfortunately, only 9% of drivers who hit a parked car will leave a note with their details according to a survey by the AA, despite it being a legal requirement. If you’ve returned to your car to find it has been damaged and the driver has not left a note, I know what you’re going through, as I experienced it in 2017.
Here’s what to do in this awful situation and tips for maximising your chances of finding the culprit.
Take photos of the incident, making sure you cover all angles and all areas of damage. The more pictures the better.
Look for witnesses
If like me, the incident happened outside your house, you may actually have heard the crash and come running out. If you were near the vehicle at the time you may be luckily enough to find a quick-thinking witness who took a note of the offending vehicle’s number plate. Word of warning: I spoke to a witness (or so I thought), when in hindsight I think they actually may have been the hit and run driver – they threw me off the scent with a story about a parcel delivery van.
Look for CCTV
Although you won’t be feeling lucky in this situation, you may have been lucky enough to have CCTV pointing at or close to your vehicle. Check for shops, pubs and even houses – a lot of people are willing to help in these situations. If you parked outside your house and have you own CCTV, please regularly check that it is recording properly – I would have had the whole incident on our own CCTV had the machine actually been working that day – luck was not on my side that day.
Speak to your insurance provider
Call your car insurance provider as soon as possible to let them know what has happened. You should also report the incident to the police.
Claiming on insurance
Without tracing the driver of the other vehicle you will be classified as effectively “at fault”, should you claim on your own policy. It’s a huge injustice that particularly riled me up, but that is how the incident is handled, and being “at fault” will almost certainly increase the cost of your insurance for the next few years.
So, if you are unable to locate the driver of the other vehicle there is little that can be done apart from having to pay for the damages yourself, in one way or another.
The important thing to work out is whether a) it is worth fixing the damage and if you do decide to fix it, b) whether it is cheaper to claim on your car insurance or to pay for the damage yourself.
When trying to work this out, you need to bear in mind the excess on your policy (both voluntary and compulsory) when making a claim as well as considering the impact to the cost of insuring your car at renewal – particularly if you would lose a no claims bonus.
Using my situation as a real-life example: my car was hit quite badly, causing £1,200 of damage. My total excess was £300, so making a claim would cost me £300 immediately plus the loss of my two years no claims bonus and an increase in my insurance price for the foreseeable. Having gone down the route of claiming on my insurance, when it came time to renew my cover, my policy had gone up by over £500 and would go on to stay higher over the coming years. Effectively, even though I claimed on my insurance, I still paid for the cost of fixing the car through the excess and increased premiums. Ouch – this is forking out for something that was absolutely nothing to do with you, so you may want to look at ways to protect yourself for the future.
Ways to prevent this occurring & other tips
Dashcam: Getting a dashcam may help catch one of these inconsiderate road users in the act. You can pick one up for less than £100 and you may get a recording of the incident and number plate if you position the camera in the right place. The added benefit is that a dashcam can help lower your insurance premiums (in part down to this very reason!).
CCTV: The other option is to try and park where you know there is CCTV, obviously having the choice of parking spaces is rare with the limited parking around today, however it is worth bearing in mind should the opportunity to choose between two parking spaces does arrive!
Insurance Renewal: As I mentioned, by renewal quote from my insurance provider at the time was £500 more expensive, however switching to a cheaper provider using a car insurance comparison service did help reduce that figure. Insurance providers are renowned for not rewarding loyalty, making it possible to see big savings by switching your provider each year.