Car Scratch Payment
November 30, 2008 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Friend scratched a car, needs to pay.

A friend scratched a car while parking a week ago. She has sent the owner a check for the damage, but he claims not to have received it. We are going to meet him in person in twenty minutes to give him another check. I will make sure she cancels the first check. Is it possible he will attempt to get the insurance companies involved after we pay him? Should my friend indicate on the check that it is payment for the scratch, in case the guy does try to get the companies to pay? Apparently he is asking for $100, which seems reasonable/low for body work. What would repair typically cost, and how much would my friends insurance go up if it was resolved through official channels? Also, the incident did happen a while ago, when does a incident need to be reported to the insurance company to make a claim?
posted by thrako to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
 
Should my friend indicate on the check that it is payment for the scratch, in case the guy does try to get the companies to pay?

Yes.

Aside: Always use the memo line on a check -- it'll save your bacon later.

$100 might be enough to fix a small dent or scratch -- or it might be enough to make the guy not care that his car is scratched/dented

You could call your insurance company and ask for guidance.
posted by eriko at 9:57 AM on November 30, 2008


I think the key thing here is to get a signed receipt for the new cheque, stating what it is payment for - if you can prove that the owner has settled the matter privately and in full, the insurance company has no basis to take any claim against your friend seriously. How long after the incident a claim can be made will probably depend on his insurer's terms and conditions.

$100 is reasonable if the owner plans to fix the damage themself (it's not terribly difficult if there's no significant dent), or if he has a relative or friend who's willing to do it. A can of paint, some lacquer and a couple of sheets of wet-and-dry paper doesn't add up to much. In fact, if the scratch is really minor, many people will just polish the scratch away.

But do cancel the lost cheque.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:59 AM on November 30, 2008


$100 would be a typical deductible on his insurance for this sort of loss. It could be that he's filed a claim with his insurance company already, and he's asking your friend to cover the deductible.
posted by chazlarson at 10:08 AM on November 30, 2008


it is doubtful that he wants to get insurance involved, but is nervous and wants your friend to make it right. i would suggest cash and not a cheque, and no matter what they sign, i am not sure that they don't have the right to go to insurance later.
posted by micawber at 10:15 AM on November 30, 2008


eriko: "You could call your insurance company and ask for guidance."

Oh christ no. Unless your agent is a personal friend (and then, only sometimes), he/she/it sholdn't know about any accident, no matter how minor, unless you're making a claim. I think just about everyone I know has a story where they called their agent to ask if it was worth making a claim, and the very act of asking made their rates go up.

As for the $100, cancel the old check. Give him a new one. Write in the memo line (of course!). He's not going to fix the car; the $100 is walkin' around money.
posted by notsnot at 10:20 AM on November 30, 2008


yes, what notsnot said.

and also nix on the cash idea, that is a very bad idea. cash is completely non-traceable and the guy could choose to be a dick and claim you didn't pay him
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:22 AM on November 30, 2008


IANYL. If your friend makes the agreed-upon payment, have the payee sign a general release covering all property damage and bodily injury claims, known and unknown, arising from the incident. The internet is rife with personal stories about people who have made direct payments, then later got sued or had to respond to an insurance claim. Can you accompany your friend to visit the payee? Having a witness with her during the transaction may prove additionally helpful.

Have your friend check her insurance policy about reporting requirements. Most insurers require all accidents to be reported promptly. And at-fault claims typically result in rate increases.
posted by terranova at 10:25 AM on November 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think just about everyone I know has a story where they called their agent to ask if it was worth making a claim, and the very act of asking made their rates go up.

Insurance companies are prohibited from capriciously raising rates after mere telephone inquiries. If a person believes this has occurred, the rate increase first should be questioned and, if the insurer fails to adequately justify the hike, the insured can file a complaint with his or her state's Department of Insurance.
posted by terranova at 10:36 AM on November 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


You expect us to estimate how much it would cost to repair a scratch without giving us a single detail about it? No car model, no location of the scratch, nothing? Gee whiz.

Yes it's possible he will get the insurance companies involved. You should draft a letter of intent stating that this payment is in place of an insurance claim and have him sign it. While this won't prevent him from claiming with your insurance company, it will help if the case went to court.

Otherwise, call your state's insurance department and get some advice.
posted by luckypozzo at 10:52 AM on November 30, 2008


We can't have any idea whether $100 is low or not because you don't tell us anything about the damage. For all we know, he fixed it over with $10 worth of touch-up paint (for all your friend knows, too). If he's asking her to pay, he should be willing to show her an estimate for the repair. Generally, the person whose car has been damaged gets a few estimates and the person paying gets to choose which to accept (if the car's on lease and needs a dealer repair, that might vary). Why would your friend have sent a cheque without any knowledge of how much the repair would cost?
posted by Dasein at 12:16 PM on November 30, 2008



I think just about everyone I know has a story where they called their agent to ask if it was worth making a claim, and the very act of asking made their rates go up.


Insurance companies should never raise rates based on an inquiry. When I worked for an an insurance company, they didn't have any way of reflecting such an unofficial inquiry on the person's record at all, in fact. Only if a claim was filed does anything happen, at least in my experience. Insurance companies reevaluate their insureds every 6 months or one year. Perhaps they had an incident earlier in the year and the rate hike coincidentally coincided with the time of their call.
posted by fructose at 12:35 PM on November 30, 2008


Insurance companies should never raise rates based on an inquiry.

Claims you file - sometimes even inquiries about your coverage that do not result in a claim - can appear in a little-known database called CLUE or its smaller competitor A-PLUS.
I thought the same thing until I learned about CLUE from another AskMe. It seems to depend somewhat on whether or not your agent chooses/ is required to report inquiries and whether that practice is prohibited in your state.
posted by TedW at 1:25 PM on November 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the answers. We gave the guy the check and asked him to sign something saying that the check would be the full compensation for the damages, which he did without protest.
posted by thrako at 2:42 PM on November 30, 2008


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