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Car Park Dings

25 November 2016

If you damaged someone’s vehicle in a car park, would you leave a note? How about if no one saw you? It’s quite the dilemma among Kiwi drivers, because while most say they wouldn’t hesitate to leave their details, the reality is that very few do.

A recent AA Insurance Driver Survey of 1,068 Kiwi drivers found that while 58% of drivers returned to find their parked car damaged, in 88% of those cases, the person who caused the damage didn’t leave a note. How rude!

But it gets worse, because the survey then asked drivers what they would do if they damaged someone else’s car and no one had seen them. Turns out that while most people don’t leave a note, only 16% were prepared to admit it. So, this all points to a huge disconnect between what people say they’ll do and what they actually do.

Now, we know if can be infuriating to find your parked car damaged, but it’s even more so when the person who damaged it wasn’t honest enough to leave their details.  So here are a few tips for what to do next:

  1. Report the incident to the car park security or mall firm. They may have CCTV footage that’s captured the entire event, which can help identify the person responsible.
  2. Look for witnesses, not only other drivers but the person collecting the trolleys, or even the busker outside the mall. If you’ve witnessed someone else damaging a parked car, do your bit and pass on any information you have to the innocent party.
  3. Talk to your insurer. If you know who did the damage, your insurer will contact them or their insurer to manage the claim. If you don’t know, then you’ll need to claim on your own insurance and pay an excess. Or if the damage is minor, foot the repair bill out of your own pocket.
  4. It’s worth knowing that whether you find the person responsible for the damage to your car or not, if you have comprehensive insurance your repairs will be covered, so you can get on with your life.

If you’re the person responsible for that nasty ding or scratch, these are your obligations as outlined in the Road Code:

  1. If you damage someone else's property you’re legally required to give your contact details and registration number to the owner within 48 hours, unless of course you can’t because of injury.
  2. If you hit a parked car or are involved in a collision, and don't know who the owner is or how to contact them, you should report it to the police within 60 hours. Or do the right thing and leave a note with your details tucked under the windscreen wipers of the other person’s car.

You can find more about the code and driving in New Zealand at nzta.govt.nz

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