Question: If I back into a parked car in my driveway, is it my fault? I thought the visitor to my home had parked on the street so wasn’t expecting a car to be there when I drove out of the garage.
Answer: Yes, you’re at fault. Luckily you didn’t injure an adult or child who could have been walking behind your vehicle or in the car that you hit. (See “A rear-view camera in your next car – maybe.”)
Some people mistakenly believe fault can’t be applied to drivers on private property, but that simply isn’t true.
While you may not have been expecting a car in your driveway, when backing up you are supposed to take reasonable care and be on the lookout to see if anything is behind your vehicle. This is necessary whether you are in a public parking lot or backing out of your own garage.
If your insurance company finds that you did not take every precaution to make certain that there was nothing behind you before backing up your vehicle, then 100 percent of fault would normally be placed on you. Your visitor will be allowed to claim damages under your property damage liability coverage.
If the damage is minor and the visitor to your house was a friend or relative, then you may want to have the car owner get an estimate for the cost of the damages before he or she places a claim with your insurer. If you can afford to pay for the repairs from your own savings, then you can keep the accident and claim off your record, and thus it shouldn’t affect your future car insurance rates.
If the car owner doesn’t agree to you paying personally, or it costs too much for you to pay out of pocket for repairs and a claim is placed against your liability coverage, then your premiums to go up at renewal time.
How much rates could rise depends upon your insurer’s rating system. If the accident had only property damage of less than $1,000, then some car insurance companies won’t surcharge you at all, though you may lose your safe driver discount, which would result in higher premiums being paid.
If this accident is rated on and is the only accident on your record, then commonly surcharges range between 10 to 30 percent for a first accident. If this were your second or third accident within a short period of time, say two or three years, then your rates could go up from 40 percent to over 100 percent, or your car insurance provider may be able to cancel or non-renew you.
If you have damages to your own car, you are responsible for those as well. If you have collision coverage can make a claim with your insurer to cover the repairs -- if they are over your deductible amount.
Of course, if you pay personally for the other car’s damages to keep the accident off your insurance company’s radar, then you’d need to do the same and pay for the repairs of your own car to keep the incident from affecting your future rates.