Do you park at the parking garage with caution? Do you look for the first available parking or do you consider potential hazards as well when parking your car. For some time now I have thought about many of the parked car collisions and how the ordinary driver can better protect himself. In this post I would like to consider a few common sense conclusions and propose a few suggestions to reduce the risk of unnecessary insurance claims!
What are the risks when parking your vehicle?
Before considering any suggestions we need to focus on the causes and contributing factors leading to claims. Most claims to insurers would be from the following incidents:
- Crime and vehicle loss /damage
Criminals may intentionally cause damage or loss through their actions:
– Your vehicle may get stolen
– You may become a victim of a hijacking and your vehicle taken
– You may be the victim of a smash and grab with your window broken
– You may have your vehicle broken into in an attempt to steal property inside the vehicle
- Vehicle Damage
Most claims will not be as a result of criminal conduct, but rather negligence or plain reckless or irresponsible behaviour.
– Accident damage from side swipe accidents or accidents when vehicles are in reverse gear
– Side swipe crashes into pillars and pavements
– Damage from reckless opening of car doors from other vehicles
– Scratches from people carrying keys and purchased goods or pushing shopping trolleys in an irresponsible manner
The damage from these types of incidents differs – and we would like to make a distinction between the cautions required to prevent criminal activity as compared to damage from negligence.
Preventing theft, hijacking and smash and grab in the parking area
The same basic guidelines that we always mention in discussions on anti-hijacking guidelines should apply. It would be rather difficult in modern parking garages for criminals to commit these crimes. Access control and heavy congestion are making it very difficult for the “getaway”. There are however also less secure parking areas and we need to refer briefly to measures that could increase safety.
When referring to the parking garage, safety guidelines would include the following:
– To park in a well lit area
– To park where there are lots of people, movement and many eyes around
– To park in the vicinity of security cameras
– To refrain from leaving valuables inside your car and clearly visible to those passing by.
Preventing Accidental Damage in the parking area
We would like to focus not so much on the obvious requirements of slow and vigilant driving in the parking garage – but on the specific spot where you need to park.
Whereas parking near lots of movement is a good idea to prevent crime – this might not be such a good idea when trying to avoid accidental damage.
We would like to suggest the following:
– Do not try to park closest to the shops – everybody does – keep in mind that most vehicles will be entering and exiting those parking spots.
– Increased traffic and increased people movement will increase both accident and scratch risk.
– If you are inside the mall for 2 hours chances are that several cars would have moved and parked next to you at the parking spot right in front of the entrance to the shops.
– It might be best to park a small walk away from the most occupied parking spots.
– Most parking garages will have 3 parking spots nestled between pillars – it could be best to avoid the middle and park next to a pillar – this way the threat from other vehicles should be from one side only.
– Consider how the vehicle next to you is to exit the parking – the way the driver is most likely to turn his car could provide you with guidance whether to choose the parking with the pillar to your left or to your right.
– Consider the vehicle next to you. It is always best to park next to someone who appears to care for his car. It is less likely to be scratched or bumped with an expensive and unscratched car than the old dented and already scratched vehicle.
– Park in the centre of your parking spot and not too near other vehicles.
– If another vehicle is not parked in the centre – rather search for another parking than trying to squeeze in next to him. [A friend recently got a note on his windscreen saying “Next time you park, leave a can opener so I can cut my car loose…”]
Ask the question “What if my car is damaged and scratched etc?”
Even if you are cautious, you might still suffer from accidental damage. Always be prepared for the worst case scenario!
It is important to consider what information you might need to collect if your vehicle is damaged. We would like to suggest the following:
– Make a mental note of the types of vehicles and their colours next to you.
– If another driver parks next to you – nod or greet the driver letting him know you have seen him. He might be more cautious knowing that you may be able to identify him later.
– It is best to park near a video surveillance camera which might be able to capture the details of the car causing the damage or driving away.
Conclusion and Advice
Always exercise caution in protecting your vehicle and by doing everything possible to avoid insurance claims. A bit more time and a bit more effort can go a long way in avoiding insurance claims and this does not only require attention to road safety – but even something as simple as parking your vehicle!
We would like to invite vehicle owners to share their observations and suggestions on how to avoid parked car collisions and scratches!