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Fender bender, best course of action?
Old 05-12-2014, 07:36 PM   #1
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Fender bender, best course of action?

(Apologies if wrong forum but bottom line this is about money)

So my wife rear ended some dude this morning, totally her fault and seems relatively minor no air-bags or injuries. He didn't want cops involved and needed to get to work so they exchanged insurance/contact info and he said she needs to pay for his tail light.

Wife's car can be driven but it is a bit worse off in the front end, what I'm wondering is do I tell our insurance company? We have a $500 deductible and I've already scheduled a free estimate at an autobody shop for our car, so it is anywhere in the neighborhood of $500 and this other guy doesn't suddenly become something more than a tail light I'm inclined to just pay to have it fixed.

So I guess I'm seeking general advice from all the smart people here. We don't have any other claims and I'm not sure if our rates will go up or how much. I'm also worried if I fix it myself then this other cat changes his mind and decides his neck hurts and contacts our insurance company anyway then I'm stuck, how would they cover the cost if I already fixed it?

Thanks in advance for kind advice.
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:40 PM   #2
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Inform your insurance company. Hug your wife.
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:42 PM   #3
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The risk that a busted tail light turns into something more will always be there. In general, when the damage is only to your car and it's minor, it's OK to just pay up and not report it. But when others are involved, and there is damage, you pretty much have to report it.
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:45 PM   #4
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I think your wife is lucky that the guy she hit, did not call cops and did not start yelling about how his neck hurts.

Unless the man changes his mind and sues (perhaps his neck will start hurting later...) or the front-end repairs on your car are very costly ($500 today is a cheap repair), I suspect you would be better off quietly paying for your repairs. Insurance companies hold every claim against you for a long time. It is more than just your rates going up; it is that you could get dropped, if you have a second accident.

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Old 05-12-2014, 07:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
I think your wife is lucky that the guy she hit, did not call cops and did not start yelling about how his neck hurts.

Unless the man changes his mind and sues (perhaps his neck will start hurting later...) or the front-end repairs on your car are very costly ($500 today is a cheap repair), I suspect you would be better off quietly paying for your repairs. Insurance companies hold every claim against you for a long time. It is more than just your rates going up; it is that you could get dropped, if you have a second accident.

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Well...that's the nice thing about this forum. For every answer, there is an opposite answer that's equally as good.
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:51 PM   #6
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Well...that's the nice thing about this forum. For every answer, there is an opposite answer that's equally as good.
Disagree, disagree, disagree. Creds here - former property casualty underwriter.

Open a claim. If you pay for your own damages, no point will be assigned and no increase in your premiums will occur. Assignable points are controlled by your state insurance board, not your insurance company, and almost every state requires that damages above a certain amount be paid before any surcharge to your policy can be assigned. What's important is to get what the guy said documented so he can not later come back and try to claim Bodily Injury. If contact between vehicles was made, which it was per your original post, no insurance company can flat out refuse a Bodily Injury claim.

Again, if you pay for your own damages, and the OP's, no impact on your premiums should occur. By opening a claim, however, and documenting what was said, your insurance company is in a much better position to contest a Bodily Injury claim should it be forthcoming.
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:23 PM   #7
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This would be an excellent time for you to read the fine print on your policy. IIRC our policies require us to report all accidents within 24 hours.

That said, about 10 years ago, we were rear-ended in a very minor accident. The other driver punched a hole in our rental's rear bumper while we were exiting the Portland OR airport rental lot and stopped for a STOP sign. No injuries or air bags. Pulled over, exchanged info, took a bunch of pictures (I asked the other driver if he would stand next to the damage while I took a picture, and he did). I made a value judgement that he was probably good for it (had two of his kids with him, insured -- seemed like an OK guy who may have been distracted for a split second, or had a short-term lapse in judgement, very minor damage (Avis wanted $600 from me for repairs because my name was on the rental agreement and I was responsible for their vehicle, which I paid)). I decided to subrogate the claim myself and his insurance company paid me. Very few "interview" questions, but I did submit 10-12 pages of info and photos to his insurance company.

If this happened again, I would probably file a claim with my own insurance.

Two more things:
1) This varies state-by-state, but an auto liability policy issued in Texas will cover just about any damage to a rental (but don't take my word for it -- check with your agent, and buy enough liability coverage to cover your rental plus the other property)
2) This web site's spell checker does not know "subrogate".

Oh, just one more thing: I sent the other driver a Christmas card the following Christmas, about six months after the incident.
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:38 PM   #8
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I got rear ended while stopped at a traffic light 20 years ago. My pickup had a bent bumper, the other drivers car was drivable, but it was probably totaled. We exchanged info, I reported to insurance. Three days later I can't use my right hand. Weeks of not being able to work, with months of PT. I didn't receive anything more than reimbursement for my lost payroll, insurance clawed their money back.

My point is report it, sometimes legitimate medical issues are found after the fact. You don't want to pay for them.
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Old 05-13-2014, 12:52 AM   #9
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DH backed our SUV into a parked car (black, very low to the ground) and the cost to repair the parked car--all bodywork, it was driveable, no windows broken, no damage other than body--was considerable, way way more than we would pay for out of pocket. Our first claim, and our insurance went up only $10 a year at the next renewal. So maybe OP's insurance premium won't be affected too much if a claim is filed.
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:05 AM   #10
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Well, speaking from a little experience this year (read here: oh dopey me), my Jeep rolled into the back of a 2000 Mitsubishi. Totally my fault ... totally totaled the $2000 car. It put a mark on my spare tire and it just caught the car in the wrong spot and messed up the LR quarter panel, trunk and marked his bumper. I watched this all happen as I ran to try and catch my Jeep. The owner of the car, watched it all happen too and ran towards my Jeep, thinking someone was driving it. Anyway, he was very nice about it, we exchanged insurance and I was very embarrassed and apologized repeatedly.

I immediately contacted my insurance and explained the "no driver(s)" accident I had. 24 hours later there was an injury claim. He said that he hurt his back running to my Jeep, although I saw him bouncing on a trampoline with his daughter 48 hours later. Anyway, it was a situation I was glad I called my insurance company and they took care of the "medical" claim .... squashed it quickly and it wasn't something I needed to deal with.

Really don't know if my insurance is going to go up or not ..... hope it doesn't, but I was thankful, I was smart enough to get the insurance involved.
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Old 05-13-2014, 06:49 AM   #11
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Report it.
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Old 05-13-2014, 09:28 AM   #12
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Tough question...

As regards the money part.... My recent story:

DW was parking our car between two others, when she nudged the left rear bumper of the other car. Since it was in the parking lot of our clubhouse, she went inside and reported it. She found the lady who owned the car, and told her that we had insurance.

(Now... without exaggeration... on our bumper, nothing at all. On the other car, a scratch... 1/4 inch wide and two inches long... not even going into the plastic. If it had been me, I would have spit on my handkerchief and rubbed the little mark off. )

Next, I called our insurance company to report the accident. The lady was asked to get two estimates... The first came in @ $1367.00 for a complete new outside and inside shell and a repaint. The second came in at $869 for similar work. We were all stunned at the cost, which at most should have been $6 for touchup paint.

When I asked if this would affect our rates, I was told no... First because there is first accident forgiveness, but more important, no rate increase, or penalty, if the damage was less than $1,000.00.

I don't know what the rate increase would have been if it had been a second accident, and if the damge was $1000.00+ .

Should anything like this occur in the future, (minor damage) and if there were no injury, I would be inclined to discuss the damage with the other party... and offer an on the spot settlement.

As it was, no expense to us, so we came out okay, but given a no panic chance to think about it, would not be in such a rush to report it to the insurance company.
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Old 05-13-2014, 09:46 AM   #13
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I'm in the "report it" camp. I have stories, too.
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:09 AM   #14
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I'm also in the "report it" camp, especially if your wife is the one at fault. Once he has the info you don't want to be blindsided by a claim against you from the other insurance company. Happened to us, we reported it and fortunately also took pictures. Claim was against our insurance for around $5000, we sent the pictures we had taken and our insurance company negotiated for a much lower amount (apparently there was other previous damage that the claimant was also trying to get paid for).
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:24 AM   #15
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I vote for report it. I had a similar situation, but there was no visible damage to the car I hit. We exchanged information anyway and went on our way. A month later, I got a nice little note from the DMV threatening to suspend my driver's license for not reporting an accident with damage over $500, followed shortly thereafter by a lawsuit. Amazingly, the number of people in the car increased by one, and they all had whiplash.

Fortunately, when I explained the circumstances, my insurance company handled everything.
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:29 AM   #16
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It would be tempting to just pay for damages and not report it. But are you willing to risk the other party (who you presumably don't know at all) making an injury and/or more serious damage claim later? That would probably invite a rate increase. Even though insurance companies are largely a necessary evil IME, I wouldn't take that chance...YMMV
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:48 AM   #17
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Since you already exchanged insurance information probably need to report it. Otherwise a private settlement in cash is what I would have done.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:36 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by RetiredAndFree View Post
Disagree, disagree, disagree. Creds here - former property casualty underwriter.



Open a claim. If you pay for your own damages, no point will be assigned and no increase in your premiums will occur. Assignable points are controlled by your state insurance board, not your insurance company, and almost every state requires that damages above a certain amount be paid before any surcharge to your policy can be assigned. What's important is to get what the guy said documented so he can not later come back and try to claim Bodily Injury. If contact between vehicles was made, which it was per your original post, no insurance company can flat out refuse a Bodily Injury claim.



Again, if you pay for your own damages, and the OP's, no impact on your premiums should occur. By opening a claim, however, and documenting what was said, your insurance company is in a much better position to contest a Bodily Injury claim should it be forthcoming.

As a claim filer and not an underwriter, your description matched perfectly what I went through a few years ago.. I thought it had to "be a secret" to avoid premium increase but found out wrong....on an unrelated thought, I know we all detest those people who decide later they "have an injury" to get some cash, but I remember about 30 years ago when I got rear ended. I felt just fine that day, but the next morning I couldn't move my neck for a month. Those darn 66 Mustang seats only went to your shoulder and my neck must have whiplashed pretty good. Back then though you just toughed it out and didn't think much of it.


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Old 05-13-2014, 12:59 PM   #19
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Thanks for input everyone, is much appreciated.
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