Motorists risk damage to vehicles in public car parks

Walls, pillars, door to panel and runaway trolleys main offenders

ARE you among the 66% of motorists who have had the experience of finding their car scratched or damaged in a public car park? Well, you are likely to have found that the perpetrator left the scene in a hurry.

According to a recent AA report, the majority who find themselves in that situation have to meet the cost of repair, either by themselves or their insurance company.

And in only 4% of cases, the guilty party left a note or came forward to own up.

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In 96% of cases the motorist is left to pay for the damage themselves or make a claim against their own insurance.

The findings are contained in an AA online poll of 800 motorists countrywide.

“Many people do not want to claim for a small dink on their own insurance because they worry about their no claims bonus, so in effect they are left with a healthy bill because the person that did the damage does not own up,” says director of policy Conor Faughnan. “If they have simply ‘done a runner’ you can be left high and dry”.

One local motorist told the Limerick Post that most car parks in Limerick have confined spaces between pillars, and that it was difficult even to avoid hitting them when squeezing into a vacant slot. “There are usually 3-4 spaces between pillars and, depending on the attitude adopted by drivers, you will often find little room left when opening the door to either exit or enter your car”.

Car parking is a hazardous driving activity and information from AA Insurance shows that hitting or being hit by another vehicle is by far the most common claim, followed by ‘door to panel’ collisions with walls, pillars, trolley shelters or barriers.

This can occur due to limited space between cars or reversing into tight spaces with often poor visibility.  There are also regular claims for damage from rogue shopping trolleys.

 While motorists will feel rightly annoyed when their own car is damaged, not all are angels when they cause the scrape themselves. Only 47% of drivers said that they did in fact, leave a note or contact details.

 “It is not simply people being dishonest,” says Faughnan: “There is a fear that the third party might take advantage of the situation, and there is also embarrassment. It is very tempting to simply slip away”.

 The AA advises anyone who does cause damage in a car park to own up rather than risk being caught later.

Quite apart from it being the right thing to do, many modern car parks have cctv, and witnesses can easily take a pic of your car or your reg. Honesty, he adds, is the best policy.

 Common light collision damage includes headlight damage, and dents to bumpers, wings and doors.

The cost of the damage can reach up to €1,000 depending on the speed the vehicle was travelling at, the extent of the damage, and whether or not the panel needs replacing.

Garages report an average cost of €250 plus VAT for bumper buffs, €350 plus VAT for door dents etc (one panel only), €300 plus VAT for quarter panel dents and €50 plus VAT for mirror covers or complete €150 plus mirror. The two repair options include smart repairs and full bodyshop repairs. Smart repairs are menu driven (typically costing under €200 a panel and quotes a specific small job). Full bodyshop repairs are charged on an hourly labour rate basis depending on an industry defined time per panel per specific vehicle.