Can I / should I accept reimbursement for a car repair I didn't do?
June 30, 2009 7:40 AM Subscribe
Is it legal to accept $500 from a car insurance company, reimbursing me for a repair I'm not going to make? If it's legal, should I?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Recently my car was very lightly rear-ended. Both I and the other driver are insured. There were no injuries and my car has no visible damage -- I took it to my mechanic, who I trust, who confirmed that there was no damage from the collision. The other driver's insurance company sent a photographer to take photos of my car to check its condition. The photographer reported a small nick in my bumper, and based on this, the other driver's insurance sent me a check for $500 for a new bumper. The nick is almost invisible (my wife can see it, I haven't managed to) and we have no interest in getting a new bumper. My wife thinks it might be OK to just cash the check, on the grounds that the eventual resale value of the car will be lower because it's been involved in an accident, however small. I'm concerned that it might actually be against the law to cash a check for replacing a bumper that I didn't actually replace. I see a few options:
A. Cash the check, pocket the money.
B. Cash the check, replace the undamaged bumper. (Seems like a waste of the world's resources, but maybe I should think of it as economic stimulus?)
C. Don't cash the check, keep it, and if I need to replace the bumper for some other reason in the next year (the life of the check,) cash it.
D. Cut up the check.
We don't want to do anything illegal. So: which of these four options is legal? And of the legal ones, which are ethically OK?
(Anonymous in case the right answer is "A is probably legal but I wouldn't do it if my real name were attached to the general practice in a public place.")