Is it worth a claim?
September 12, 2009 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Sometime last night someone severely scraped the side of my car while is was parked at my apartment complex. They left no note. What are my options?

I'm afraid I'm just going to have to grin and bear it, but I'm hoping there's some recourse I'm not thinking of. I didn't notice the damage until I got to work just a few minutes ago and I remember there was no one parked next to me when I left. It's a long, low scrape starting from the drivers door to the back of the back wheelwell. The bottom panels are pushed in and there is paint residue. It seems to be cosmetic, both doors open and the tire seems fine. Should I make an insurance claim? Do I need a police report for that? Is it not with my premiums going up?

This whole thing miffs me. My husband and I only have one car and we try to keep it nice. I've never had anything like this happen, outside of a few door dings. Sorry if this is rambly.
posted by lizjohn to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, file a police report. Call the police department's non-emergency number and tell them you want to report a belated vandalism. This is always a good idea, even if you don't file an insurance claim, because it establishes a record of what happened in case it becomes a pattern in your neighborhood, or even in the unlikely event that you were specifically targeted and something else happens.
posted by amyms at 2:55 PM on September 12, 2009

Oops, I said vandalism but, after re-reading your description of the damage, it appears it's more likely a hit-and-run. Either way, file a police report.
posted by amyms at 2:56 PM on September 12, 2009

I used to work for an insurance agency and this would be considered a comprehensive claim because your car was stationary when it occurred. Whether it's worth making a claim depends on your deductible. If the damage is more than your deductible, it may be worth it to get your insurance to cover it. This is what comprehensive insurance is for (that and things like tree falls, etc.), and most companies typically won't raise your rates for comprehensive claims, especially if you have very few of them.
posted by ishotjr at 2:57 PM on September 12, 2009 [6 favorites]

No sure if it works the same in the US, but the situation with my (Australian) insurance company is that, while this is clearly a no-fault situation, if you never identify the other party, they will consider the accident your fault and that will affect your rating. This happened to me recently and the only reason it was worth claiming was that my rating was already shot to hell from a previous accident a few months earlier so, while I have a "rating 1 for life" rating, that only works with my current insurance company, so I am stuck with them for the next five years until my real rating comes down. Sometimes it's just not worth involving the insurance company.
posted by dg at 3:38 PM on September 12, 2009

I filed the report and someone is supposed to contact me within a few days. Should I just call my insurance company and ask them whether it's worth it? Or by even contacting them I'm opening myself up to a possible ding? I have USAA if it makes a difference. I feel like this is all adult stuff I should already know
posted by lizjohn at 4:23 PM on September 12, 2009

I don't know about car insurance, but for our house insurance, just asking if something was covered was considered a claim. It wasn't covered.

You might want to get a free estimate from a body shop, then look up your deductible on your insurance and make your own decision whether it's worth it to file a claim.
posted by CathyG at 4:40 PM on September 12, 2009

I'd second CathyG's advice about getting a free estimate. Without seeing your car or knowing what type of car it is, or knowing where in the U.S. you are, I'd still guess that damage like you described would run $800-900 for a decent body shop to fix. If your deductible is lower than that, it might be worth it to go through your insurance.

For what it's worth, we had something similar happen to our parked car within one WEEK of buying it back in '04; it was about $850 damage, and our deductible was $500. We went through insurance, paid the deductible, and cursed the mystery driver. The next year our rates went down.
posted by lisa g at 4:51 PM on September 12, 2009

If you have USAA, I think you should just call them and ask what the future implications of filing a claim will be. They have the most amazing customer service ever. I am 100% confident that they will give you a good and honest answer. I've called them about all sorts of things, and they've always been helpful, given me good advice even when it wasn't best for their bottom line, and gotten me to someone who could help me immediately or within minutes.
posted by Houstonian at 4:58 PM on September 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

Unless your deductible is astronomically high, I'm guessing it's worth it for you to contact USAA (2 doors and a rear panel -- I'm guessing over $1000). To file the claim as a hit-and-run, they'll want a copy of your police report. Call them now, tell them the police are doing their thing, and send them the report when it's available. (This was the procedure for me with AAA when I was a victim of a hit-and-run while my car was parked...the day after I got it back from the shop because of another accident.) I was allowed to take the car wherever I wanted and I didn't need to get an estimate because AAA dealt directly with the shop. Like Lisa G, my rates didn't go up.
posted by puritycontrol at 5:05 PM on September 12, 2009

I sound a bit like an ad up there. I don't work for USAA, but I've been a member for 20 years, have all kinds of accounts, insurance, etc., with them, and in those 20 years they have never let me down, been underhanded, or done anything except be communicative and helpful.
posted by Houstonian at 5:15 PM on September 12, 2009

Houstonian: I have to agree. I love USAA with all my heart. I never thought it was possible to like an insurance company/bank this way. I've also apologized on the green for my vehement recommendations before :).
posted by lizjohn at 5:32 PM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Where do you park? In an assigned spot?

If it is likely that the person who did this lives in your building, maybe take a stroll around the lot this weekend and see if you recognize your door paint on someone else's car. You might be able to ask that person if they know what happened.
posted by Sallyfur at 5:51 PM on September 12, 2009

For all its worth, this exact thing happened to me a few years ago. My car was sideswiped on the passenger side while parked on the street in front of my apartment. I did not notice until hours later, after I had gone to work. I filed a police report, and contacted my insurance company (Geico). My rates were not raised because of the report. The repair cost was over $1,000, and was well worth filing the claim for.
posted by Lokheed at 6:13 PM on September 12, 2009

I've had my car hit twice while parked on the street, and filed a claim with my insurance both times. They paid for the repairs, and my rates stayed the same.
posted by OolooKitty at 8:27 PM on September 12, 2009

If it is likely that the person who did this lives in your building, maybe take a stroll around the lot this weekend and see if you recognize your door paint on someone else's car. You might be able to ask that person if they know what happened.

when this happened to me, that's exactly what i did. i found them. make sure you call the cops before confronting the guilty party.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 8:49 PM on September 12, 2009

This happened to me a few years ago. My insurance paid for it and my rates didn't go up. I was surprised how expensive it was to get the car fixed, but they had to replace all of the side panels and the trim, and the side mirror. Also I didn't report it to the police. I tried but they never showed up. The insurance paid anyway.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:59 PM on September 12, 2009

I'd call USAA and ask. A few years ago I had a tree limb fall on my car while it was parked; it cost about $1200 to fix and I was concerned that it might raise my rates more than it was worth. They basically assured me that they wouldn't raise my rates based on it, since it wasn't my fault and wasn't indicative of a pattern or any sort of future risk. And this was true—my rates did not go up. YMMV of course, based on the situation, but I would absolutely advise you to call and talk to them.

If you get the work done at an approved body shop (which at least in my area was the one everyone recommended I go to anyway), getting the repair estimate and the insurance adjustment will happen in one step. You could ask at this point if, were you to pay cash, there are any possible discounts, but for me there weren't. (Giving USAA the "cash price" is probably part of why they're approved, come to think of it.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:06 PM on September 12, 2009

Keep a camera in your pocket. If you do find a car with what may be your door-paint on it, photo first, then ask questions.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 7:27 AM on September 13, 2009

It may also go under your uninsured motorist coverage depending on the state you are in. If you have a clean driving record and low to no claims you shouldn't expect a rate hike due to this.
posted by SuzySmith at 2:39 AM on September 14, 2009

Just as a follow-up, when we called it turns out we don't have collision! I have no idea how, but now we do. Oh well.
posted by lizjohn at 1:34 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older How to express condolences with estranged neighbor...   |   Exterminator in NYC Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.