I rear-ended someone last month while on vacation and the other party, an elderly couple, suggested not involving insurance. The police were not called. After supplying an initial estimate that I agreed to pay, they suddenly realized that they are entitled to a car rental, too, and after I agreed to that they stopped answering their phone and email. What now?
-They got an initial estimate that seemed a bit high, then got a second one that was 50% higher, so I suggested that I pay the initial estimate, to the body shop, in exchange for a waiver signed by them. Their only reply, after a few days, is that it suddenly dawned on them that they'll need me to pay for a car rental too for the x or even x+1 days of the repair, no estimate attached and no comment on the other stuff.
-They went to the initial body shop because by their admission they've brought their car there before, repeatedly. I also ran a preliminary VIN check on their car and while I can't see the nature of the records without paying a hefty fee, they have nearly two dozen for a relatively late model car. (A high number of records can mean anything, but may indicate the number of accidents reported).
-Basically I just haven't read anything on askme where the person paid for anything besides the repair estimate, though I am definitely planning to cover the rental. However, I'm not sure I can afford a bunch of open-ended costs that they might suddenly realize they need paid for. Not to mention, I called the body shop and they said they are perfectly willing to pick up and drop off their customers.
-Worst of all: they've stopped communicating. I feel that I assertively laid down terms but emphasized that I was open to discussion, asked them repeatedly to phone, have tried phoning them, and they are not answering. I'm not sure if I scared them off by trying to pin down a number instead of saying "Sure, I'll pay for any numbers you come up with!"
I'm reading horror stories on askme (like this one: http://ask.metafilter.com/123079/Paying-out-of-pocket-and-preventing-future-involvement-of-car-insurance-co#1759460
) and the rest of the internet about people taking the money and making claims and reports anyway, or even worse, claiming medical problems.
How do I proceed here? Keep emailing and calling? Get insurance involved stat before they do? (If possible I'd like to talk to my insurance, but I'm afraid that any inquiry at all will be considered a claim.) This is in California.
Throwaway email: firstname.lastname@example.org