What do you do if you hit a parked car, or someone else hit yours?

Well, you probably want to find a way to pay for the damages caused by the accident. Thankfully, several forms of car insurance exist to help in those situations, no matter what side you’re on. If you find yourself with a damaged parked car, there are a few things you should know:

  • If you were driving and hit a parked car, your car insurance should cover, or at least help to cover, any damages you caused.
  • If your parked car was hit, the offending driver’s liability coverage should help with the costs. If the driver was uninsured or underinsured, though, you might still have to pay to fix the damage. If you know you’re underinsured and are interested in buying a more comprehensive policy, online quote comparison sites like Insurify make it quick and easy to do so.

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Before we go any further, you need to understand the different types of car insurance coverage.

Types of Car Insurance Coverage

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage is mandatory, and all states have minimum liability insurance requirements. So, if you’re driving legally, you should already have it. Liability insurance covers you for the damage you could cause other people (bodily injury liability) or their property (property damage liability) while driving. By comparison, “full coverage” applies to damage your personal vehicle might incur.

In a situation where someone else hits your car, parked or not, liability insurance does nothing to protect you or the vehicle. Comprehensive coverage accomplishes this, and you’ll have to pay more for it.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage protects you and your vehicle in situations when you’re not driving, like if a thief breaks into your car or extreme weather causes damages to your car. While this type of coverage is not mandatory, you should consider buying it if you are thinking about storing a car for an extended period. Comprehensive coverage can protect you in a worst-case scenario, especially if you’re planning on keeping your parked car on a street or driveway.

Comprehensive coverage is what most people think about when they hear the term “parked car insurance.” This coverage helps with damages caused by:

  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Natural disaster
  • Contact with an animal

However, after filing a claim for damage under comprehensive coverage, you will still have to pay a deductible and endure increased premiums.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage typically covers damage from situations in which you are driving, such as if you hit a car or object. For example, if you hit a fire hydrant while driving and get a dent in your car, collision insurance will help cover those damages.

This coverage helps with damages caused by:

  • Car accidents where you are found at fault
  • Potholes
  • Hitting an inanimate object, such as a tree or guardrail
  • Driving into a ditch

It’s important to note that after filing a claim for damage under your collision coverage, you’ll still have to pay a deductible and your premium will likely increase.

Scenario #1: You Hit a Parked Car

As a driver, you are required to have liability coverage that meets your state’s minimum standards. While this won’t help with any damage you caused to yourself or your vehicle, it will help with repairs for the other car.

In the case that you hit a parked car, you are required to try to find the car’s owner or leave a note with your contact and insurance information. If you don’t do those things, you could be found guilty of a hit and run. Depending on the state and the circumstances of your situation, a hit-and-run may be a misdemeanor or a felony. In either case, it’s not something you want on your record.

Scenario #2: Someone Else Hits Your Parked Car

As we mentioned earlier, the other person’s liability insurance should cover or help cover the cost of damages to your car.

Knowing this, it’s essential to stay calm at the moment and get the contact information and insurance information from the person who hit your vehicle. If they are not around or did not leave a note, that makes it a hit and run. Unfortunately, unless you have comprehensive coverage or uninsured motorist coverage for your policy, you could be out of luck.

That being said, it’s easy to protect yourself in these situations if you make sure to get the appropriate coverage ahead of time. If you live in a dense city and park on busy streets frequently, it would be smart to consider adding these types of insurance to your basic liability coverage.

So, What Exactly is Parked Car Insurance?

Though the term “parked car insurance” is not official, it refers to the concept of removing liability coverage from your policy and only having comprehensive coverage for a vehicle you don’t intend on driving.

It’s a good move if:

  • You want to store a car and know that you absolutely will not be driving it.
  • You want to keep your insurance from lapsing, thus protecting you from increased rates when you add liability insurance again.
  • There are possibilities for theft or natural disaster when storing your car.

The downsides are:

  • Without liability insurance, you are not legally allowed to drive that car, even for a minute.
  • Some states get notified when you remove insurance from a registered vehicle and then require you to prove that you are not using it.

If you’re worried about incurring damages to your car when parked, you should consider purchasing comprehensive coverage. After all, a parked car can get hit or damaged by weather at any time—not just when in long-term storage.

You can add comprehensive coverage to your current policy or shop for a new policy that includes both liability and comprehensive.

Using a car insurance quotes comparison site like Insurify makes it easy to shop around and compare real-time quotes from top car insurance companies. You might not think you need comprehensive or collision coverage today, but in the case of theft or an accident in the future, you’ll be thankful you have it.

If you intend to make a change to your car usage, it’s essential to reevaluate your car insurance coverage. Doing so regularly ensures that you and your car, parked or not, are protected.

Updated July 14, 2020

Sabrina Perry is a writer with experience in data journalism and a passion for translating complex topics into insightful and engaging stories. She has a degree in neuroscience from University of California, Santa Barbara and can often be found reading books about behavioral economics, decision-making, and personal finance.