Met with a minor accident (lady hit my parked car). Should I call insurance or take care of this myself?
August 19, 2011 7:38 AM   Subscribe

A lady hit my car when it was parked at a mall. I have her insurance details and she is willing to take responsibility. My dilemma is this: - Even though this is a minor accident (scrath on the side) its going to show up on carfax as a accident - Correct???

-If it does show up on carfax as an accident then my car's value which is 2.5 years old will go down more than the cost of repairs which is $1000

Can you guys confirm that minor scratches do show up on carfax as accidents when you put it through insurance?

Will my insurance premium go up even though the other party's insurance is paying?

Next time when I am shopping around for quotes will I have to declare this as a claim even though the claim is not on my policy?

Should I have called the cops? Is it true that whenever cops are called it goes into the records and will show up on carfax etc?


- I did not call the police so there is no police report on this
- Its a scratch and a small dent with $1000 in repairs based on
-This happened in NJ
-What are the benefits of calling the cops when a minor accident happens?
posted by r2d2 to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Calm down. This is not the big, scary deal you think it is. A repaired scratch is not the sort of problem that has a serious impact on the value of your car, whether it shows up on Carfax or not. Accidents not caused by you will not cause your insurance rates to go up. Yes, you probably should call the cops; I don't know about NJ, but in OH there's a damage threshold over which you're legally required to make a police report. That threshold (in Ohio) is less than $1k.

Call your own insurer and ask them what you should do. Even though they're not paying, they should be involved. The world is not going to punish you for this.
posted by jon1270 at 7:49 AM on August 19, 2011

Carfax is not all-knowing, but gets its info from a patchy set of different sources. According to this page Carfax gets total loss information from some insurance companies. It doesn't sound like your accident would be a total loss, so Carfax probably won't hear about it, even assuming that your insurance company is one that talks to Carfax, which is not a given either.
posted by blue mustard at 7:58 AM on August 19, 2011

Your insurance company insures your car, not you. Most policies will require you to report any claim to them, as they have a vested interest in the vehicle. So your call your agent or insurance company. Yes, you should have called the cops, but given that it happened on private property all they would do is take a statement from both parties. They were not going to write a ticket to anybody for a ding in a mall parking lot. So from that sense, the mistake of not calling the cops is minimized.

It depends on what you mean by small dent and scratch, but if it really is small and relatively insignificant I'd be inclined to see if the other drive wants to settle for some cash, then touch up the scratch yourself so it doesn't rust and go on with life. There will be other door dings and minor scratches, it's not something I'd pay a deductible to fix if it really is insignificant.

But then, I'm guessing I have a lot more experience with this stuff than you do.
posted by COD at 8:10 AM on August 19, 2011

I think this depends on what insurance company you use. When I had someone change lanes into the back of my car, causing $2300 worth of damages, my insurance company said that if I put the claim in through the other guys' insurance, it wouldn't even show up on my insurance (Allstate). Another option would be asking the woman if she would want to pay directly for the repairs based on the quote you got. She might be interested in keeping it off of her insurance, and this is a legit way to do that.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:26 AM on August 19, 2011

We received a car from an aunt that I know was involved in 2 accidents. There is no record on Carfax of the damage. I checked. Carfax is like "blue mustard" said, unknowing and just another sales gimmick used by dealers.
posted by JohnE at 8:28 AM on August 19, 2011

My hubs and I have direct experience with this and hoo-boy was it a surprise when we went to sell his R-32. Do Not Report This To Your Insurance Company!! We reported when a dump truck was dropping debris on the highway that damaged hub's car. We had the car repainted / dings repaired and the windshield replaced through our insurance company. The CarFax report shows this as body damage/accident and lowered the cars value by a LOT.

Ask the woman to pony up what would be her cash deductible and bite the bullet for the rest. (Her car's value will decrease too.) I sure wish that we had gone that route. Good Luck.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 8:29 AM on August 19, 2011

So your call your agent or insurance company.

Sure, though based on my experience (Northeastern U.S., State Farm, supermarket parking lot, crease and scratch in my passenger front door) your agent will tell you to call the insurance company of the person at fault. It should all work without your insurance company needing to do anything, unless either the other party or their insurance company drops the ball.

In my case, by the time I called the responsible party's insurance company, he had already submitted a claim about the accident and given them my information, and they were about to call me to schedule a nearby agent to do an estimate so I could get the car to a body shop. None of this raised my rates, the car looked like new afterward, and I don't believe it impacted the value of the car. Good luck!
posted by aught at 8:30 AM on August 19, 2011


The lady is not willing to pay over $500 in cash so the cash option is ruled out.

One question that was not addressed in the answers above:

Will I have to declare this as a claim when I am shopping around for insurance the next time round?

Will this adversely effect my future quotes?
posted by r2d2 at 8:41 AM on August 19, 2011

My car was hit twice (in one year!) while legally parked. My insurance or the other person's insurance covered it both times and my rates did not go up.

I keep my cars until they fall apart so I've never paid any attention to carfax and replacement value, so I can't help you there.
posted by interplanetjanet at 9:08 AM on August 19, 2011

ALWAYS call your insurance company unless it's literally just a scratch. Anything that seems like it'll be more than $400 warrants getting your insurance involved. You never know what may happen and you pay insurance so they'll take care of it for you. I had a guy rear end me at about 15mph recently. Damage looked minor at the time but once the car was taken apart it ended up being $3,000 worth of a new bumper and lift gate.

I've been in two accidents where I was rear ended and there was no question that it was the other party's fault. My insurance has not gone up at all (in fact I think it's gone down now that I've been with them for more than 2 years).
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 9:56 AM on August 19, 2011

Another data point on Carfax: I had a car that was declared a total loss by my insurance company (but which was still driveable, and I drove it for a few more years). When I looked it up on Carfax a few years later, it had a spotless record.
posted by BurntHombre at 10:16 AM on August 19, 2011

More than once I've contacted my insurance company to let them know about some accident, and also to say that I might or might not file a claim, and I'd keep them posted. When I haven't filed, my rates have been unimpacted (and when I have, the other party was at fault and so my rates have been unimpacted.) So call them, yes.
posted by davejay at 11:33 AM on August 19, 2011

Where I live the cops won't even come to an accident in a mall parking lot unless there's some injury or egregious law-breaking (hit and run, intentional vandalism, or something).
posted by coolguymichael at 12:10 PM on August 19, 2011

I would err on the side of caution and report it to the insurance company. However, I wasn't aware that one had to call the police for a parking lot ding on private property. I've never done that, and from what I know, the cops here don't want to be bothered with private property fender-benders (I'm in CA); they have more urgent things to do with their time.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:48 PM on August 19, 2011

Will I have to declare this as a claim when I am shopping around for insurance the next time round?

If the other driver's carrier handled it and you didn't need to file a claim with your insurance, I wouldn't think so.
posted by aught at 1:12 PM on August 19, 2011

Just want to Thank everybody. I am going to call the insurance company.
This was very helpful - appreciate everyone's input here.
posted by r2d2 at 2:32 PM on August 19, 2011

On a related note: If there is an accident and the cops are called. Do the cops decide on who's fault it is? Lets say I get hit on the side by somebody trying to overtake aggressively.
If the guy who hit me does not accept its his fault - will the cop state his judgement on whose fault it is in the report?

Basically if there is disagreement on whose fault it is. Who finally decides? Or how is such a situation resolved?
posted by r2d2 at 2:39 PM on August 19, 2011

In MN, I believe that the police report is used to help the insurance companies decide fault, but I don't believe that the police themselves assign fault.

MN is also a "no-fault" insurance state. Maybe yours is, too. What happens here is both drivers go through their own insurance companies, paying their own deductibles. Then, the insurance companies battle it out to decide who is at fault [this is called "subrogation"] and the losing company reimburses the other for the loss, including your deductible, which is then paid to you.

Practical example: I was t-boned at an intersection in the evening by a dark red van with no lights. I did pull out in front of him, after looking both ways, but of course he was nearly invisible. My car was totalled; my insurance wrote me a check for bluebook value minus $500 [my collision deductible]. Some months later, I received a check for $500 after the two companies worked it out. This accident appears on my claim history as a claim with a payout of $0. My rates were not affected.

The other driver may not want to pay out more than $500, but she should probably go talk to her agent about that. If the damage is $1000, and she's at fault, her company is paying all of it, and they're going to raise her rates in response, probably. Over the next period of time, she'll pay that $500, in all likelihood. That's her thing, though. You should just go through your insurance agent, and your insurance company will go to hers to recover the claim, and your rates should be unaffected. Future quotes should be unaffected, as well, since your claim history will show this loss that you basically had no control over.
posted by chazlarson at 11:49 AM on August 20, 2011

I meant to add; your insurance agent should be able to explain exactly how fault is assigned in an accident.
posted by chazlarson at 11:50 AM on August 20, 2011

To address your carfax worry, I was in an accident in Georgia a few weeks ago and received a letter from my insurance company explaining that I could make a claim based on the reduced value from having been in an accident. This may or may not be true where you are, but it's worth asking about.
posted by duien at 9:57 PM on August 20, 2011

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