Damaging another car

It should never happen but it happens more often than you think: you drive your car and then you hit another car. This often happens when you park your car in a narrow car park or want to leave a parking space. In different countries there are different rules how to continue.

What to do if you damage another car (while entering or leaving a parking space) in Germany?

If it happens, follow these three rules:

  1. Calm down
  2. Stay where you are
  3. Call the police
  4. Be polite (needless to say)
  5. Call your insurance company

People sometimes tend to just leave a note at the windscreen if the other driver isn’t present and leave. But that might be considered as ‘Fahrerflucht‘ which Germans take as a really serious thing. Better call the police by dialing 110. Sometimes – if nobody has been hurt – they just decide to note your data. In most cases a police car will come to analyze the situation.

If it isn’t obvious (because for example you damaged a parked car) you should never say that it is your fault. The police will tell you their opinion but only a judge can in most cases really tell who did it wrong. If you say that it was your fault you might force your insurance company to pay – this could lead to trouble with them. There are some rules of thumb whether you’re guilty or not: if you’re driving behind somebody and crash into them, it’s your fault. If you’re driving backwards and hit a car, it’s your fault.

Police will come and note all personal details, what has happened and even write down details on the weather conditions. If they decide that it is your fault, you accept this and are polite they might fine you with 30 Euros. If you’re not polite it might end up with 150 Euros and a remark at the Bundeszentralregister at Flensburg.

After clarifying the situation with the police inform your insurance company. If it was your fault they’ll pay the damage at the other car. The repair costs of your car are not paid unless you have a full comprehensive insurance (‘Vollkaskoversicherung‘) which costs a lot of money. If you have too many accidents a German insurance company might raise the amount of money you’ll have to pay every month. But most often one accident per year is ‘for free’.

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