Street parking may seem trivial, but for millions of Americans, securing and paying for parking is a constant struggle, particularly in large urban areas. Over 35 percent of households do not have garages or carports to safely park their cars and must find parking on a public street or pay to rent a spot in parking garages.
In the United States, parking challenges create heavy burdens to many drivers:
- American motorists spend an average of 17 hours per year searching for parking spots.
- Locating a parking spot costs approximately $345 per driver in fuel, emissions, and wasted time.
- Americans overpay for parking by more than $20 billion annually, approximately $97 for every driver.
- Damage incurred during parking accounts for 40 percent of all car accidents.
- Cars spend 95 percent of their time parked, on average.
- Over 60 percent of drivers reported avoiding shopping malls, airports, sporting areas, and many other locations due to parking challenges.
- Approximately two-thirds of drivers experience stress while trying to find a parking spot.
Vehicles are quite vulnerable to thieves, vandals, and the natural elements while parked on the street. Understanding where and how to park your vehicle more safely helps reduce the risk of theft and damage while parked in public areas.
Park in the first or last spot on the street, if possible. Corner spots prevent your car from being boxed in between two others and helps prevent bumper damage caused by other cars parking. The corner spots also help deter theft as one side of the car is exposed, making thieves more visible, so they are less likely to choose your vehicle.
One of the best ways to deter theft and vandalism is to park under a streetlight. Thieves and vandals do not want to be seen committing a crime and typically do not target cars that are more visible under streetlights.
Secure the Car
After parking, be sure that your car alarm is active, all windows and doors are shut, and the car is locked. If parked on the street during summer months, do not leave the windows cracked. While this may help with reducing some of the heat in the car, it also makes it easier for thieves to break into the car. Additionally, make a habit of checking whether the sunroof is open or closed before exiting the cars. If driving a truck, make sure the center window in the back is secure. Many people forget to close both of these, providing easy access to thieves and vandals and also leaves the car vulnerable to weather damage, such as rain.
Set the E-Brake
Some people tend to forget to set the emergency brake after parking, especially if parked on a level surface. However, setting the brake prevents the car from potentially rolling.
What Are Common Damages From Street Parking?
Street parking is challenging for many car owners and does carry an increased risk of damage. The following are some of the more common causes of damage due to parking on the street:
- Hits: One of the more common causes of car damage while parked on the street is being struck by another car. Drivers parking too closely can hit the front or rear bumper, mirrors can be broken off by cars passing too closely, and side and body damage from other drivers swerving to avoid something else, or taking a corner too tightly and ramming into the back of a car parked near a curb.
- Theft: In addition to the car itself being stolen, cars parked on the street are more susceptible to break-ins, especially if valuable items are left in plain sight. Items such as purses, wallets, laptops, cellphones, and cash that are visible from outside the car are common items thieves break into cars to steal. Theft of items inside the car typically also results in damage to the car if thieves break the windows or pry open doors in order to access your belongings. Additionally, thieves often target catalytic converters which contain valuable metals for resale and can be sawed off in a matter of minutes.
- Vandalism: Another quite common type of vehicular damage is vandalism, such as broken windows, slashed or punctured tires, broken windows, spraypainted body, and more.
- Nature: Cars left outside may suffer damage from the natural elements, such as hail, fallen trees and limbs, and even ice. Even rain can cause damage if windows or sunroofs are left open. In hotter climates, the intense rays of the sun can cause damage to the dashboard, upholstery, and even the car’s paint.
- Street maintenance: Cars parked on the street are also vulnerable to street maintenance, such as street cleaners or snowplows. Either one can throw rocks, debris, ice and snow against the car, causing damage to the body, windows, and paint. The snowplow itself can strike cars if they are parked further out from the curb than other cars.
- Towing: Cars parked illegally on the street are subject to towing, and depending on how the car is parked, damage could occur when the tow truck driver is attempting to remove it from the spot where it is parked.
Will My Insurance Cover the Damage?
If your vehicle is damaged while parked on the street, your personal auto insurance coverage may pay for repair or replacement. The following are damages covered and not covered by insurance.
What is covered by insurance:
- Damage: Insurance generally covers damage if the vehicle is struck while parked on the street. If you know who caused the damage, the at-fault driver’s insurance is responsible for covering the cost of repairs. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or you do not know who hit your vehicle, your own auto insurance should cover the costs.
- Theft: Comprehensive insurance covered typically covers theft of the car itself, certain car parts, hits, damage from thieves, and vandalism. Comprehensive coverage is generally required by insurance companies for vehicles that are leased or financed. Insurance covers the replacement of catalytic converters, one of the most common items stolen from vehicles due to its resell value. To help prevent theft, install a catalytic converter protection device that makes the part much more difficult and time-consuming to remove.
- Personal items: Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover the replacement cost of certain personal items stolen from the vehicle instead of the auto policy, though coverage cost is often low. Consider adding an endorsement to your insurance policy for additional cover on higher-value items, such as electronics.
What is not covered by insurance:
- Towing: As towing generally happens from improper parking or parking in tow-away zones, insurance policies do not cover the cost of towing or any damage incurred in the towing process.
- Parking tickets: As parking tickets are given for illegally parking or expired meters and the fault of the driver, insurance will not cover the costs of tickets.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Clients Injured in Accidents
Car damage or injuries caused while parked on the street can be stressful and upsetting. Our experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.