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Auto accident advice needed
Old 10-11-2008, 09:50 AM   #1
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Auto accident advice needed

Yesterday I backed slowly and carefully (or so I thought) out of my driveway and hit a car whose driver had stopped to talk w/ another driver on the other side of the street. No damage (dents,etc) to the other car's sheet metal but a "scratch mark" or two could be seen---not down to the sheet metal but you could, if you looked carefully, see a faint line even though you couldn't feel it w/your finger. I am assuming but can't be sure that that mark was not there before the incident.

Depending on your mood if it happened to you, you could react in all sorts of ways....I gave the other driver my insurance info that she asked for. She seemed to part w/ a "no big deal, don't worry about it" attitude but her husband may/may not feel the same way when he sees it.

I know there can be consequences just talking to your insurance agent but
since the other driver already has my info, has the damage already been done and I should tell my insurance agent to make sure I am covered. Or if the other driver never uses that info, am I creating a problem for myself?

Also given the meager description of the damage, what is the cost to restore
to normal? Didn't look like just rubbing w/ my finger did any restoration.
Can buffing somehow do it? Cost? I'm guessing that a minimal paint job costs hundreds of dollars?
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:06 AM   #2
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Funny how the damage to the other car always appears to be unnoticeable by the driver that hit it. Obviously the other driver felt the damage was enough to ask for insurance information, so there may be some disagreement.

If you've got a decent insurance company and a good driving record, there shouldn't be any consequences to advise them of the accident. It would be worse that they find out via an outrageous claim for what you state is a minor scratch, if that. Do you want to defend yourself against that and have the insurance company ask why you didn't advise them so that they could inspect the damage and protect theirs (and your) interest?

If the damage is as minimal as you describe, a buff with some compound would probably take it out. A paint job gets expensive as you have to go beyond the damaged area, usually the entire body panel minimum.

Full disclosure is always best, a good aphorism is that "bad news never gets better with time."
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:29 AM   #3
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Deepc------thanks for your input. Actually, she asked for the info before she
even looked at the damage.....and yes, I agree that we would each have our biases tho I think in this case, it is minimal. Any idea what a commercial outfit would charge for that buffing?
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:31 AM   #4
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As a matter of course, I would have asked for insurance just to be safe, even if I didn't think it was anything. I'd probably call it in, but maybe it depends on your carrier.

Panel repaint might be a couple $k. Buff will be a couple hundred.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:44 AM   #5
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You don't give the age and condition of the car.
Something similar happened to me. I asked - do you want to exchange insurance info or I have $40 for your trouble - I only had that amount in my pocket. They took the money - no info exchanged.
Sounds like touch up paint would handle it.
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:09 PM   #6
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From speaking with several folks in the insurance industry, I believe there is a threshold claim level where if the claim amount is under that amount then it won't affect your insurance rates. The amount of this threshold is not advertised, but I've heard numbers ranging between $500 and $900, a few years ago. So if you report the claim and it ends up being resolved with a buff (or no action) then you are fine. OTOH, if a panel needs to be repainted, that could be $1000 or more, so there might be a small change to your insurance risk rating.

If it were me, I'd keep in touch with the other party and if you can pay out of pocket for a buff to resolve it on your own, do that.
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:28 PM   #7
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I'd call the insurance company and let them know of the event in case they get a claim. They will (rightfully) be more than annoyed if that happens and you didn't let them know.

Re the damage, it sounds like just buffing would take care of it, and even repainting just one body panel shouldn't be that bad as long as the metal/fiberglass underneath wasn't damaged.

Edit: Some people won't even care, depending on the condition of the car. If it's twenty years old and has a number of scratches and dents already, I wouldn't care about one more. Others, even with a newer car, take the position that "stuff happens" and don't get ruffled by it.

However, if it's a restored '57 Chevy, a Rolls, or something like that then you'd better call the insurance company!
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