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Will my insurance cover me hitting a parked car?

Here's what you need to know...

  • If you live in a tort state, even basic auto insurance will include liability insurance that pays for third-party damages
  • If you’re driving in a parking lot and you hit a vehicle in a stall, you will be deemed at fault for the loss
  • Because you’re considered negligent for the loss, your policy will pay for the repairs that are needed to put the vehicle back in its pre-loss condition. The policy will pay under your Property Damage Liability coverage

Car insurance is a product that’s around to protect you in tough situations that you never think will happen to you.

No matter how good of a driver you are, anything can happen when you’re controlling a two-ton vehicle in a parking lot. You can turn the wheel to fast or brake too slow that leads to a collision between your vehicle and a parked car.

The damage might not look too bad when you’re inspecting it, but body work to buff out scratches and fix dents can be much more expensive than you think.

The labor itself can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Before you offer to pay for the costs out of pocket, learn how your insurance protects you against third-party claims.

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Table of Contents

What does it mean when you live in a tort state?

Whether or not you’re required to carry liability insurance depends on where you live. In most states, carrying auto insurance is mandatory.

Out of all of these states, most officials require at least a minimum level of motor vehicle liability protection.

States, where the at-fault party are deemed responsible for repairing the damage that they’ve done, are called tort states.

All but 12 states operate under tort law. The other states have some form of no-fault coverage. In no-fault states, you may not be required insurance, but you are still required pay for property damage if you are primarily at fault.

What does liability insurance protect you against?

Liability insurance consists of two different coverage options. When you have to carry motor liability insurance, you have to be offered both Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability coverage options.

By law, you must carry a minimum amount of coverage but you can increase your coverage amounts as needed.

Bodily Injury, which is often called BI, pays for medical treatment expenses, funeral costs, and other related expenses when other drivers and their passengers are injured.

Property Damage, which goes by PD, will pay to repair or replace property that you damage while you are operating any vehicle that is considered a covered auto.

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How much will your policy pay?

Your insurance company isn’t going to take the vehicle owner’s word for it and pay out a huge amount of money to repair a scratch. Even though labor costs for body work are high, there’s a thin line between reasonable and unreasonable. This is why the company will send an estimator out.

A general rule of thumb is that the company will pay up to the car’s fair market value or Actual Cash Value when settling a claim.

A dent from a collision, while you’re going less than 10 miles per hour, might not always  total a car, but older vehicles that don’t retain value could be declared a write-off.

Will your policy pay to repair your vehicle?

If your car is damaged, your insurer won’t always pay to repair it. Whether or not the insurer will pay for your repairs is dependent on if you carry collision coverage.

Collision is a physical damage coverage that pays for your own repairs as long as the damage exceeds the deductible that you have on the policy.

Will your policy protect you if you didn’t hit the parked car?

If someone has claimed that you hit their parked car and it’s quite obvious that the damage is old, you can call your insurer to protect you. Your company protects your own interests and offers you

Your company protects your own interests and offers you supplementary payments on your policy to help pay for legal defense when you’re fighting a claim that’s fraudulent.

How does the at-fault collision affect your rates?

If you are to blame for hitting the parked car for any reason, you will be found at fault for the incident.

When you’re at fault for a collision, there’s a chance that your insurance rates will go up because your policy is surcharged. Some states have damage reporting thresholds which limit when a company can surcharge you.

It’s in your interest to work with your insurance company when you have a parking lot accident. If you’ve filed a claim in the past and you’re not happy with how your insurer has treated you, shop around for better rates. Use an online shopping tool, and instantly compare rates for insurance coverage with other providers. Learn more here: where can I compare several affordable auto insurance rates.

Enter your zip code below to compare car insurance rates from multiple companies!


  1. http://rmiia.org/auto/steering_through_your_auto_policy/Tort_Auto_Insurance_Basics.asp
  2. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?Cite=38.52.180
  3. http://insurance.illinois.gov/autoinsurance/auto_own_claim.asp
  4. http://www.iii.org/issue-update/no-fault-auto-insurance
  5. http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/01-auto/auto101.cfm
  6. http://www.rmiia.org/auto/steering_through_your_auto_policy/Glossary_of_Auto_Terms.asp
  7. http://www.edmunds.com/auto-insurance/how-car-insurance-companies-handle-car-accident-claims.html
  8. http://insurance.illinois.gov/autoinsurance/total_loss_auto.asp
  9. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/collision-insurance.asp
  10. http://www.iiat.org/infocentral/policy-coverages/auto-dealers-(iso)/general-liability-coverages/supplementary-payments-and-limits-of-insurance
  11. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/forms/sr/sr1

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