Someone damaged a part of my car that was already damaged, how do I handle the insurance claim?
September 25, 2011 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Someone hit my car while it was parked and damaged the bumper, which was already damaged before she hit it. How do I handle this?

My car (a 2001 Camry) had been hit a few months ago (also while it was parked), gouging a hole on the plastic bumper cover and leaving beige scrape marks. The difference that time was that whoever had done it didn't leave a note.

The person who just hit it last night/this morning, on the other hand, left a very apologetic note which included her phone number. I haven't called her yet. She left black scrape marks on the same corner of the bumper as the prior damage.

I hadn't done anything about fixing it after the first time it was hit because I'm out of work and money is really tight. My insurance company (USAA) has always been great when I've had claims in the past; however, my premiums are not the cheapest because I live in a busy area of LA in a building that has no garage (i.e., I have to park on the street). I was worried they'd raise my premium.

Picture of the damage taken just now can be viewed here. I assume repairing it would mean replacing the bumper cover panel.

So do I try to get this girl's insurance to pay for it? What do I say when I talk to her or her insurance co? Should I call my insurance instead, and if so, what do I say? Have I screwed myself out of possible recompense by having prior unrepaired damage? Any advice will be much appreciated.
posted by JustDerek to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you contact her insurance and she admits fault, they will pay for the repair. It will be irrelevant that there was prior existing damage, the repair will fix all of it. I have had the same thing happen before. If the other party admits damaging your bumper, and the in surname company gets an estimate for "repair bumper" that they think looks reasonable, they will pay it.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:13 PM on September 25, 2011

Did the new bump cause damage or just marks? Wipe the bumper with mentholated spirits and see if the black marks come off. If they do then her 'damage' is gone. Do not bill her for the damage someone else caused. She probably thinks she did it all, poor girl.
posted by the fish at 5:13 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

"in surname" = "insurance". Stupid auto-correct.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:14 PM on September 25, 2011

contact the person who hit your car, ask them for their contact information (name, telephone, address), insurance information (company name and policy number), and vehicle information (year, make, model, colour, licence plate number).

find out if the person that hit your vehicle would be interested in settling this privately (which can be done). if they choose to settle privately then contact USAA to file a report (a simple notification but same information is required as a claim), but otherwise file a claim depending on how much it would cost to repair the damages.
posted by sincerely-s at 5:15 PM on September 25, 2011

I doubt it makes a difference whether or not you charge her for just her damage or for all of the damage because the solution is likely to be the same either way. The whole bumper (or at least the whole plastic cover) will probably be replaced.

If you want to be nice to her, let her pay out-of-pocket if she wants to. You will both avoid dealing with possible insurance premium increases.
posted by twblalock at 5:36 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just ask her for $50 or $100 to cover the damage.
posted by Slinga at 5:41 PM on September 25, 2011

Do you want to repair the bumper this time around? If not, it might be cheaper and better for both of you to just agree on a dollar amount to settle it and exchange cash. That way, her insurance doesn't go up, and you get money instead of a new bumper that you may not care much about.
posted by decathecting at 6:13 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Huh? Am I misunderstanding or are most folk advocating charging her or her insurance for the just the black marks which could wipe off with $10 bucks of materials? She did almost no damage and yet is being hooked up for a substantial cost. If her insurance pays, her premiums go up. If she pays $50-$100 out of her own pocket she's being ripped off.

PS: You can get a 2001 Camry plastic moulded rear bumper ready for priming and painting for $39.27.
posted by the fish at 10:01 PM on September 25, 2011

Do you think it's fair she pays (directly for the damage or indirectly through higher premiums) for more than her share, just because she did the right thing by writing a note? What would you want to pay for, in her shoes?

Meditate, then decide.
posted by FrereKhan at 5:33 AM on September 26, 2011

The bumper already looked like crap with that big hole in it -- I'd tell the person involved in the second scrape not to worry about it and enjoy good karma. Someday, when you have the money, you can have a body shop replace the bumper cover -- it's a sub-$700 repair if you get a pre-color keyed one on ebay.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:41 AM on September 26, 2011

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