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How to Avoid a Parking Lot Accident

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Parking lot accidents are more common than you may think, accounting for 1 of 5 reported accidents in Ontario. There are many moving pieces other than just vehicles – pedestrians, carts, narrow driving lanes and medians can be a recipe for disaster. Especially during the holidays, shoppers tend to be preoccupied or in a hurry, leading to a higher risk of an accident. We know you certainly don’t want an accident on your insurance record, especially because it may impact your insurance premium, so, in this blog, we’ve outlined ways to avoid a parking lot accident.

Who is At Fault in a Parking Lot Accident?

Fault is determined on a case-by-case basis when you report the collision to your insurer, but we can apply some general principles. Generally, the car that is moving is at fault, especially if the other vehicle is stationary. If both cars are moving, fault is then determined by the which driver had the right of way.

Am I Insured in a Parking Lot Accident?

It’s a common misconception that parking lot accidents are handled differently because they are on private property, when in fact, your insurer will handle a parking lot accident in the same way as any other claim. When you report a parking lot accident, your insurer will investigate the claim, determine fault and payout for damages accordingly.

Whether or not you are covered for damages in a parking lot depends on the coverages you have on your insurance policy and the nature of the incident. Liability insurance is required in Ontario; however, collision and comprehensive coverage are not. You should double check with your broker to find out if you have coverage in a parking lot accident and if you would have to pay your deductible.  

Hit & Run Parking Lot Accident

No one likes returning to their vehicle and seeing a dent or scratch on their car with no note or information to be found. Be a good person, do the right thing – leave a note with your contact information or remain at the scene. If you are caught on camera as fleeing the scene of an accident, you can be fined up to $2000 and receive demerit points and even a license suspension, all of which will increase your car insurance premium.

If someone hits your car and leaves no information, your insurer will put the claim under your collision coverage, for which you will have to pay your collision deductible. If the driver is located (through security camera footage for example), your insurer may be able to put the claim under direct compensation property damage instead.

What to Do if You Are in a Parking Lot Accident

First, check to see if anyone is injured and if the damage exceeds $2000. If either of these are the case, call 911 to report the accident and get medical help. If it is safe, move your vehicle out of traffic’s way.

Speak with the other driver and exchange information with them – full name, phone number, email address, insurance information. Report the accident to the police if the damage exceeds $2000 and, if needed, take the vehicle to a collision reporting centre in Ontario. In Alberta, New Brunswick, or Nova Scotia, simply report to your local police station.

Finally, contact your insurance company to report a claim. Our claims line is available 24/7 if you need to make a claim on your insurance.

How to Avoid Parking Lot Accident

To avoid a parking lot accident, follow this simple advice:

Slow down and keep your distance! Especially during the holidays, we can feel so frenzied with all there is to do, but think about it this way: how much more stressful and time consuming would it be if you end up in an accident? It’s worth the extra 5 minutes to be patient and give space to others.

Obey all traffic signs and yield to traffic. Come to a complete stop at stop signs, look out for pedestrians at crosswalks (and everywhere else). Proceed with caution at high traffic areas and yield to vehicles already in motion.

See and be seen. Make sure you are alert and have a clear field of vision. Stay focused on the task at hand and put away distractions. Adjust your mirrors and triple check everything before you advance. Use your backup camera to aid your vision, but don’t depend solely on it. Consider backing into your parking spot – it’s shown to decrease the likelihood of a parking lot accident.

Communicate clearly with those around you. Unfortunately, you can’t assume that people see you and you may end up with pedestrians walking out in front of you or another vehicle trying to take the same spot. Use your blinkers to indicate your direction, use [kind] body language when signalling pedestrians or other vehicles to proceed, and brake gradually to give people notice.

Avoid parking lot traffic altogether when possible. Park further away from congested parking areas. You may have to walk a little further, but you’ll be less likely to see damage to your vehicle. Use entrances/exits that are less busy. Shopping online can help you avoid the headache of parking all together. 


They say patience is a virtue. Ultimately, being patient with others drivers will help you avoid a parking lot accident. If you aren’t sure that you would have insurance coverage in a parking lot accident, be sure to contact your BIG broker – we’d be happy to answer any of your questions about your policy and get you the best coverage for your car.

By: Amy Legault