Getting the most out of my auto insurance claim
June 8, 2011 10:09 AM   Subscribe

My car is less than two years old, but has had a string of very bad luck. Help me figure out how to best handle my problems through my insurance company.

This year, a pickup truck backed into me with the tailgate down (and drove off), denting my trunk. I hit a pothole, losing a hubcap in the process, and just recently, I was rear ended by someone who does not have auto insurance - severely cracking my bumper. I did not have the trunk dent repaired, or the hubcap replaced, but now do plan on having the bumper damage fixed via my insurance. This weekend, I will be taking my car in for an estimate and will then pay my insurance deductable for the repairs to be completed.

My question is this: Is it appropriate to ask the auto body repair shop to fix the bumper, the trunk dent, and replace the hubcap and to have it all be handled within the one claim I am making with the insurance company, or is it typical to need to make a separate claim for each case? I want to get the most bang for my buck but to also be ethical in the process. I am in Illinois, USA. (I do understand that YANML, etc.)
posted by mockjovial to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Three different dates of loss equals three different separate claims, leading, unfortunately, to three separate deductibles. I'm sorry that there isn't a better answer.

Do you know who struck you from the rear? I assume you do since you know they are uninsured. If so, I imagine you're making a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage rather than your collision coverage. One small consolation there is that your uninsured motorist coverage has a smaller deductible (often $200) than most regular collision coverage.

Good luck and let's hope that your accidents "coming in threes" mean smooth sailing from here on.
posted by Ginesthoi at 11:05 AM on June 8, 2011

My auto insurance (and I assume most others) would consider each of these separate incidents and thus, separate claims. I don't think you'll be able to combine them and get the insurance company to pay for the repair of all three.

Go ahead get the estimate for the bumper repair and then really consider if it's worth making a claim on your insurance. I'm always concerned that my rates will go up or that I'll have a more serious claim in a few months and the insurance co. will drop me. Anyway, with the way your luck is running, you'll get hit by someone with full coverage in the next year and you can have their insurance pay for the repairs (for that incident at least).

IANAIA (I am not an insurance agent)
posted by victoriab at 11:05 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm going to go out on a limb & say the insurance company would probably view it as fraud if you tried to claim that two separate incidents occurred as one. I am in *no* way a legal expert, but I have filed claims for a repair or two, and every time, the insurance company has sent a collision specialist to inspect the damage. If they did that in your case, I would imagine they'd be able to spot that the damage was not co-incidental. They do not take it lightly when asked to disburse money for misrepresented reasons. It can go a good bit beyond just saying "claim denied."
posted by Ys at 11:06 AM on June 8, 2011

IANAInsuranceProfessional, but I'm confident that your insurer will treat these as separate incidents with separate deductibles. Pretending that the bumper and trunk are related problems would be fraud. If it were possible to combine claims for unrelated damage, then anyone wanting to sell an old beater would pay their deductible and have the whole car restored to like-new condition to enhance the sale price. That, obviously, is not how the system works.

You're probably better off going to the dealer and buying a new hubcap yourself instead of handling that one through insurance.
posted by jon1270 at 11:08 AM on June 8, 2011

You'd be still better off going to a junkyard and buying that wheel cover there. Those things are outrageously expensive. if the car's only two years old, the ones at the junkyard will look like new. Find a junkyard in the phone book, call them, and tell them what you want. They may want a description, so call from where you can see one of the remaining wheel covers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:29 AM on June 8, 2011

i was in a similar situation with my car last summer. the insurance company told me that i'd pay an extra deductible. i went ahead and paid it myself but wished i had used insurance, as it would have still saved me money even after multiple deductibles.
posted by lester at 11:59 AM on June 8, 2011

Side note -- the hubcap is nothing. Four new matching hubcaps cost ~$30 tops. Get a flathead screwdriver and pry the three remaining hubcaps off. Snap the new hubcaps on, making sure to align the air valve with the notch in the hubcap through which it fits. You may need a rubber mallet to punch the hubcap in, but you can probably just slam it in with the base of your palm.
posted by lewedswiver at 8:38 PM on June 8, 2011

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