Money Talk: ‘My car was damaged in a supermarket parking lot – who has to pay?’


In the latest of our weekly Money Talk series, we look at what happens when your car is damaged in a supermarket car and the driver didn’t leave a note. Here’s what you need to know

Conflicts with supermarket cars can be stressful
Conflicts with supermarket cars can be stressful

Supermarket parking lots are one of the most common places motorists experience damage to their vehicle.

This is according to previous research by the RAC, which showed that more than a third (35%) of motorists said they had experienced it at least once.

Unfortunately, 31% of drivers reported that their car had been damaged in a supermarket car park on multiple occasions.

But what are your rights if someone damages your car in a public car park – and can the supermarket be held liable if the driver doesn’t leave a note?

In the latest installment of our Money Talk series, we speak to the experts to find out what you need to know…

What to do if your car is damaged in a supermarket parking lot?

When you walk out of the grocery store with bags of groceries in hand and find that your car is damaged — or worse — the first thing to do is to see if someone left a note on your vehicle’s windshield.

Ideally, they leave their name, contact details and a license plate number.

If they left a note, you should contact them and discuss how to fix the damage.

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For example, whether they can pay the costs in advance or whether they would rather take out their insurance.

If the perpetrator didn’t leave a note, the next step is to look for surveillance cameras.

Look for a sign under the camera or possibly in the parking lot to identify the operator.

If you cannot find a sign, ask the resident of the building to tell you who is in charge of the video surveillance system in the parking lot.

“Once you identify the operator, ask them if they would allow you to review the record to determine who is responsible,” said Michael Buckworth, founder of the law firm Buckworths.

“If the video camera catches the damage, get a copy of it. In general, it’s best to be friendly and ask if the operator can help.

“However, if the operator refuses, citing ‘GDPR concerns’, point out that failure to report damage to a vehicle may constitute a criminal offence.

“Data controllers are permitted to disclose personal information to assist in the detection of crime.

“At least ask them for confirmation that the content will not be deleted. Follow up with a written request.”

After that, you should report the damage to the police and take photos of the vehicle and the location of the car.

Also note the time and date you exited the vehicle and when you discovered the damage.

“Then report the damage as a crime via the police’s online website,” Mr Buckworth said.

“Write down the crime reference number that you will receive when you have completed the form.

“Insurance companies can only allow you to claim your insurance if the incident has been reported and you have a criminal record number.”

Regardless of whether you want to claim the damage or not, you must report any damage to your car to your car insurance company.

If you need repairs on your car, your car insurance may provide coverage depending on your insurance level.

If you have a protected no-claims bonus, a minor repair shouldn’t affect your premiums.

“Some insurance companies allow you a certain number of such small claims without affecting your premium. Please refer to your policy documents for details,” Mr Buckworth said.

“If the claim counts as a claim, consider whether it makes sense to make a claim.

“You will likely have to pay a deductible (the first amount of a claim) and the claim could increase your premium. For a small dent it might not be worth it.”

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Fry Electronics Team

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