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Seeking advice on a potential auto insurance problem
Old 02-18-2015, 10:49 AM   #1
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Seeking advice on a potential auto insurance problem

Hello all. This is not an early retirement issue, but I would guess that's why we have an "other topics" forum anyway. So here goes.

My neighbors across the street have friends and relatives who insist on always parking on the street directly across from my drive way. Well, it finally happened. I was backing out the other night and dented one of their vehicles in the door. I rang their doorbell and knocked on the door but no one would answer. As I was in a hurry, I left a note on the windshield and left. Did not call police, no accident report, etc. Fast forward, I've now connected with the owner, and I would simply like to give him a couple of hundred dollars or so and put the matter behind. However he seems to be determined that our insurance companies be involved and that I should initiate this. I don't see this as good for me. Not only might my rates go up, but I anticipate I might really catch trouble for leaving the scene the night it happened. Just to complicate the matter more, the owner of the vehicle is an immigrant who I feel does not seem to understand how auto insurance in the US works. He just seems to think you pay your premiums and make claims to get money when you need to with no further consequences.

Any advice on this? Perspectives of agents and those who have experienced similar situations welcome. Please understand, Im trying to make right in this situation; I just would prefer the simplest approach. Thanks.

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Old 02-18-2015, 11:53 AM   #2
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DH did the same thing a couple of years ago, to a very very expensive car.

There is no need to call the police in Illinois according to the other car's owner and our own insurance company. Your state may differ.

I hope you can talk the other car's owner into getting an estimate so you can reimburse him the actual amount, rather than "a couple of hundred dollars"--maybe he is worried you will not give him the actual amount (the damage to our car's bumper cost $750 to repair).

We would have handled it the same way you want to, directly with the other car's owner, but we could not afford to pay for the other car's repairs (which was only body work to the rear left fender) so we had to call our insurance company, which covered both the other car's damage and our own. Our premiums have gone up less than $100 annually since then, but it was DH's first claim ever. It was very simple.

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Old 02-18-2015, 12:14 PM   #3
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Since you've done all the right steps, but haven't succeeded in working out the payment approach with your neighbor, probably best bet is to go ahead and turn in the loss notice to your insurance co and let them handle it. That's what you pay them for.
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:27 PM   #4
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Your insurance premium can go up much higher than if you pay your neighbor out of your pocket. I suggest that you get an estimate (including any rental requirement or incentives you can give to the neighbor for his trouble) and try to work it out with your neighbor. What's in it for him to not go through the insurance? That's the question you may have to answer in his favor.
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:30 PM   #5
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I would just let the insurance company handle it. About 10 years ago, on a narrow city street, I accidentally snagged the mirror of a Toyota Camry, that was parked out too far from the curb. The mirror got pulled forward and broke, and messed up the door. Did absolutely nothing to my truck, other than put a black stripe down the side that rubbed off.

As a result, I think my insurance went up, about $100 that year. But then it went back down the following year.
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:32 PM   #6
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I don't think you need to worry about being in trouble with the police. When I backed into a car a couple years ago in a parking lot, I called the police for a report. He asked if I knew the person (which I did informally) he immediately said , "well you two don't need me then", and left without filling out a report. I initially discussed paying her, but sensed uneasiness. So I just told her I would call my insurance. Probably a good thing as the car was out for 2 days and my insurance provided a rental for her convenience.
The odd thing was the surcharge slapped on my premium for 2 years matched almost exactly the out of pocket cost Imwould have paid without calling insurance, so there was no money saved in avoiding the insurance company.
About 10 years ago, I backed into my friends car in my own driveway and hit the little rice eater hard. I never called the police at all on that one. Just called my insurance company and they handled it.

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Old 02-18-2015, 12:50 PM   #7
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You do not need to be concerned about not calling the police. As long as you did not try to evade responsibility they don't care and what you did (try to contact owner, left a note on the car) complies with the law in every state that I know of.

Personally I would go through the insurance and let the premium chips fall where they may. Such events can and have taken on a life of their own, and I'd suspect that someone from a different culture may have entirely different expectations than what will happen. I'd be concerned about getting caught up in that type of mess.
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:32 PM   #8
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I am sure the person has fear you will not come through after the repairs are done and they get stuck with the bill. I agree, just let the ins co deal with it, that is what you pay for and it keeps everyone happy. Your premium will probably go up a little, just figure it is to be expected that they want to recover the costs.
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:36 PM   #9
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Let the insurance company handle it. Best to keep it at arm's length if the neighbour is not comfortable dealing directly with you.
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Old 02-18-2015, 03:03 PM   #10
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Another consideration may be that the other person may want to keep adding items (rental car while theirs is in the shop, inconvenience factor, etc.). By letting your insurance company handle it, you avoid any issues like that.

As greydog17 said, this is why we have insurance. It can be worth more than it costs.

As an example, I was in an accident a couple of years ago where someone hit me because he wasn't paying attention. Clearly his fault, and he admitted it at the scene. Because he was driving someone else's car and was insured by a very small outfit that I had never heard of, I didn't feel right dealing with them and just let my own insurance handle the whole deal, paying my $1,000 deductible out of pocket.

Sure enough, his insurance agent raised all sorts of objections, and started calling me repeatedly. I never had a conversation with him -- just told him to deal with my insurance company. They fought it all they way through arbitration, but I didn't have to worry about it, and eventually my insurance company collected and reimbursed my deductible payment. Neat and clean.
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Old 02-18-2015, 05:52 PM   #11
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Filing a claim doesn't necessarily mean an automatic rate increase. Some insurance companies have 'accident forgiveness', if you've been with them for a number of years and have not filed a claim recently then your rates won't go up when you do file a claim. I had the opportunity to test Progressives 'accident forgiveness' benefit a couple years ago and didn't see any increases after filing a claim.
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Old 02-18-2015, 07:06 PM   #12
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+1 on letting the insurance guys deal with it.
If you have not had work done at a body shop lately, you might be shocked at what the costs are for a minor fender bender..I know I was.
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Old 02-19-2015, 09:43 AM   #13
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Thanks everyone -- lots of good insights here. The consensus I get is that it's best for my own protection to turn this over to the insurance company. A bit of a chore I was hoping to avoid, but probably less than dealing with it all myself. Thanks again.
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Seeking advice on a potential auto insurance problem
Old 02-19-2015, 09:47 AM   #14
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Seeking advice on a potential auto insurance problem

gabrewer, my experience was no hassle at all. I made one call to insurance carrier and gave them the contact number of the person and vehicle and they ran with the ball from there. I did nothing else.

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