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Filing a car insurance claim with unreported previous damage
July 22, 2014 3:29 PM   Subscribe

I was in a fender-bender that was indisputably the other driver's fault, but I'm not sure how to proceed with the insurance claim because there was already some mild prior damage to my car from a couple of scrapes in my house's treacherous driveway that I never brought to my insurer's attention. Can I get in trouble with my insurance company (USAA) for failing to report those minor solo collisions, and how much will it complicate a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance?

So, here's the deal:

The other day, I was took right at a T-shape intersection, after coming to a complete halt at a stop sign, and a woman apparently didn't notice, and, without signaling, pulled out from where she was parked (illegally, to boot) and drove right into the front-right side of my car.

Consequently, the side and bumper moldings are now misaligned, there's a dent in the front-right door, which now makes a bad clunking noise whenever it's opened, and I also somehow ended up with a flat in my rear right tire.

The complicating prior damage was some scratching and paint-transfer on the right side of the car (mostly on the rear door) and a shorn-off right side mirror, both from when my girlfriend had to move my car to get to hers, and brushed up against the side of the house where our very narrow driveway takes a 90 degree turn.

How should I go about filing this claim, given the proximity (and possible overlap) of the prior and current damage? Will it prevent my insurance company from collecting from hers? Could I end up having to foot some of the bill (which I couldn't actually pay for right now,) or even get dumped by my insurer (USAA) for failing to report the scrape in the driveway?

[Being a dick (and committing insurance fraud) by pretending that all of the damage was from the fender bender is not an option I'm considering.]
posted by patnasty to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
No, you won't get "in trouble", you're not required to report damage.

Just don't claim the damage in this claim.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:34 PM on July 22 [3 favorites]


IANYIA

I filed a claim with USAA earlier this year for some collision damage. There was prior cosmetic damage to the car that had happened years ago, which came up when I was getting the repair estimates done. I was upfront about when and how the prior damage had occurred (including, for one particular scrape, "I honestly don't remember") and they ended up paying for some of that damage to be repaired in addition to the claim I filed.

You might want to be proactive in opening a separate claim for the earlier damage. In any case, as long as you're truthful with them, I don't see as you have any reason to worry about getting in trouble. Best case scenario, they'll cover you for the scratching and mirror (less your deductible) when you bring it to their attention.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:39 PM on July 22


Don't worry about it, your insurance doesn't expect you to file a claim for every ding and scrape you get into . As you walk around the car with the adjustor if asked, just say, "yeah, my driveways a hassle." This happened with my bumper (I have no depth perception and I'm usually parking by feel,) after a tree fell on the hood of my car. I said, "nope, that's all me." They replaced it anyway.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:01 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Yep. Just be up front about what damage resulted from which incident.

This is totally normal.
posted by jbenben at 4:04 PM on July 22


I was in two accidents within months of each other. The first caused damage that was purely cosmetic and I opted not to get it fixed (took the payout from the at-fault driver's insurance company and went on vacation). The second caused damage that was more than cosmetic. When the guy came to look at it, he easily discerned which was the old damage and which was the new. (Different insurance companies each time, so I'm sure it was based on his experience and the details of the accident that were reported to him by the at-fault driver.) Anyway, there was no problem the second time, and no implication that I was committing fraud, etc. If the person who checks your car doesn't notice, you can point it out, but I'm sure you won't have any problem about not reporting previous damage.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 5:01 PM on July 22


What the others have said. I was in a similar situation recently (other driver totally at fault), and my car had some previous damage thanks to weather; my company simply instructed the mechanic to fix X Y Z caused by the accident, and to ignore the rest.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:14 PM on July 22


Plus, USAA is the best insurance company around, so you've really got nothing to worry about.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:34 PM on July 22 [4 favorites]


Just went through this (with AAA as our insurer). I got rear-ended; other driver was totally apologetic, and insured, and the damage was minor. The ding some a-hole left on the corner of of rear bumper (and that we didn't report at the time) some months ago was way worse. So when I talked to our insurance person, and to the guys at the body shop, I pointed out what was pre-existing and what was from the rear-ending, and nobody thought this was weird or got hostile or anything. Totally normal.
posted by rtha at 6:37 PM on July 22


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