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Don't be a fender bender offender Add to ...

A reader asks: "I understand that parking lot fender benders are considered to be equally the fault of both drivers; both drivers' rates go up. Is that true?"

Many times fender benders get a 50/50 fault destination when it comes to parking lot incidents, which means your insurance rate and the other driver's rate will both be subject to a rate increase.

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Fender benders are usually pretty minor. However, whether you dent your Honda Civic or write off a Bentley your insurance rate will increase the same amount.

Many parking lot accidents could easily be covered by one or the other driver accepting responsibility and leaving the insurance companies out of it. But respectively, insurance companies want to know about "all incidents." The standard rules are if there's an injury, destruction of public property, or damage in excess of $1,000, it should be reported to the police.

Some drivers, after a parking lot accident, feel they might as well throw their hands up in the air and walk directly to the proverbial Jail of Insurance Rate Hikes. Your sentence: six years, no parole.

Yet this article might just be your "Get Out of Jail" for free card, so save it.

It will come in handy if you, a friend or a family member becomes a Fender Bender Offender.

You first need to know that there's an underlying thread that fault is shared by both drivers if the adjuster cannot establish which driver caused the incident, and both drivers' insurance rates will be affected. Inherently, this is the same ruling a judge would make (50/50) when there are two conflicting stories with no witnesses.

So you need to be like a ninja warrior when it comes to keeping your driving record clean should you find yourself at the mercy of an adjuster deciding who was at fault.

Take pictures, get witness statements, names and contact information.

There are thousands of dollars worth of incentive for you to do this. One reader said, "I had a couple of minor speeding infractions, and prior to the fender bender my auto insurance premium was $1,800 a year. Post-collision it went to $5,000 plus."

Here is a summary of rules that an adjuster would apply when determining who would be at-fault for a parking lot incident.

Firstly, the adjuster applies the same rules to parking lot intersections and thoroughfares as they would to a road. A "thoroughfare" means a main road into, through or out of a parking lot. They also describe a road in a parking lot other than a thoroughfare as a "feeder lane."

So here are the guiding rules determining fault from the Fault Determination Rules in Ontario:

First, if the driver of automobile A is leaving a feeder lane and fails to yield the right of way to the driver of automobile B on a thoroughfare, A is 100 per cent at-fault and the driver of automobile B is not.

If the driver of automobile A is leaving a parking space and fails to yield the right of way to automobile B on a feeder lane or a thoroughfare, the driver of automobile A is 100 per cent at-fault.

If automobile B is parked and struck by automobile A, A is 100 per cent at-fault.

The driver of automobile A is also 100 per cent at-fault if they open their car door into B or leave it open for B to hit it. But be careful with this one. My stepfather was getting out of his car when another driver backed into his door. The adjuster first deemed both drivers to be 50/50 at-fault, but as my stepfather was in the process of getting out of his car he neither opened his car into the driver's car or left it open to be hit. Therefore, the adjuster rescinded his fault designation.

If automobile A is illegally parked and struck by automobile B, A is 100 per cent at-fault.

If the driver of automobile A fails to obey a police officer's direction or road sign, and collides with automobile B, then A is 100 per cent at-fault.

The driver of automobile A is 100 per cent at-fault if they hit automobile B by backing up, or making a U-turn.

Sure hope you're never driving automobile A.

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