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Prevent a parking lot accident this holiday season

During the holidays, when millions of shoppers flood stores and malls, the frequency of parking lot accidents goes up by about 20 percent, according to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association. To help protect your car from dings, dents and fender-benders, try these parking lot accident prevention tips:

Check it twice. Use your eyes and mirrors—and ask your passengers to look around, too—to make sure your path is clear before you pull or back out of a parking space.

Drive slowly. This way, it’s easier to avoid cars that are speeding, cutting across the lot or pulling out of parking spaces

Take a hike. Park farther from store entrances, where it’s generally less crowded, to prevent dings and scratches from other car doors or shopping carts. If it’s dark outside, park wherever you feel safest, like a well-lit area.

If—despite your best efforts—you’re involved in a parking lot accident, report it to police and your insurer immediately, even if it seems minor. This way, you’re protected in case the other party doesn’t have insurance or files a claim.

If you’ve hit a parked car or other property, and can’t find the owner, securely attach a note with your name and contact information to it, then notify the police and your insurer.