non-insurance repairs after minor accident
July 11, 2012 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Just got in a minor accident (brand-new car - sigh). The other driver wants to do the repairs himself through the body shop that he works at...

Stopped in traffic (VW GTI) and got hit from behind (Ford Expedition) - only minor dents but irritating as this car has less than 1000 miles on it. The driver admitted blame and gave me his details & phone number (but not his insurance). He said he works for a body shop & gave me their details - they appear legit via a quick web search. He wants to do the repairs via his body shop rather than going through insurance. I have full insurance of course and it was entirely his fault.

What's the best course of action? Should I just put in a claim and let the insurance work it out?
posted by tandemrepeat to Travel & Transportation (38 answers total)
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! DO NOT DO THIS. DO NOT, NOT, NOT DO THIS. I say this as someone who has been rear-ended an extraordinary number of times, and who has proceeded in any number of ways afterwards. THE *ONLY* acceptable way, unless you've been hit by your spouse or something, is to go through insurance. Anything else can - and usually DOES - lead to tears.
posted by julthumbscrew at 4:05 PM on July 11, 2012 [40 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok - that's what I was thinking too. I appreciate the quick response.
posted by tandemrepeat at 4:07 PM on July 11, 2012

The only reason to say yes is if you have had a number of other claims on this insurer recently (other car claims, house claims, etc) and don't want them to refuse to renew your policy, or if the cost of repairs will be less than or not significantly more than your deductible. Or if it's a friend or family member, sure.
posted by jeather at 4:10 PM on July 11, 2012

Keep in mind that depending on your locality, your insurance rate can go up if you go through your insurance, even if your insurance succeeds in subrogating the cost of the repair to the offending driver's insurance. In an (single data point) experience I had, my rates when up approximately 20% with a not-at-fault accident that was paid for entirely by the other party's insurance. Whether this is worth it or not for you is up to you, depending on the cost of the repair. I decided to pay it for a ~$2000 repair, but chose not to deal with the insurance companies for a ~$600 repair.

Actually, my insurance rate stayed the same, but I lost my "safe driver discount". Same thing
posted by saeculorum at 4:12 PM on July 11, 2012

Yeah, no way. What if his place does a sub-standard job and then he claims you are even? I kind of hate the car insurance business, but this is what they are for.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:14 PM on July 11, 2012

Yeah, I was going to say that it would depend on how much my deductible was and how much it may affect my future insurance if i file the claim. I am always the kind of person that wants to think people will do the right thing, and if he really works at this place, at least you know where to find him. If he doesn't follow through, then you can always file a claim through your insurance then.

(note: this is assuming that this guy does not have insurance which is what I gathered from how you worded it... either way I would probably handle it the same with the exception that you would be calling his insurance to file the claim)
posted by Quincy at 4:14 PM on July 11, 2012

Did you call the body shop and find out if he actually works there?
posted by MegoSteve at 4:17 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: He didn't want to go through insurance, which I took to mean that he wanted to avoid the premium hit. I have his license plate, name, address and phone number...kicking myself about not getting his insurance info.
posted by tandemrepeat at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2012

Response by poster: @MegoSteve - not yet - a good point.

I would rather just have the insurance deal with this - they can chase after him.
posted by tandemrepeat at 4:21 PM on July 11, 2012

Just as a contrary datapoint, I've settled things outside of insurance and it's worked out fine. I hate feeding insurance companies, so I do it whenever it's convenient enough for me.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:24 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing everyone who says this is a terrible idea. When I was much younger (and more trusting) I was in a somewhat similar situation. My biggest regret was not calling the cops and involving insurance because I was trying to be nice. This guy ended up stringing me along, making me fight for every single repair, and generally being the world's biggest jerk about the whole thing. I still get a little irritated every time I think about it.

Do not trust this person in something like this. You don't know him, you don't know that he's a good repairman, and you don't know that he's not going to string you along. Just let insurance handle it and don't stress yourself out about it. If he didn't want the insurance problem, he shouldn't have hit you.
posted by McPuppington the Third at 4:25 PM on July 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

Don't worry about not getting his insurance info. Your insurance company and DMV will take care of the rest.
posted by rhizome at 4:41 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had a similar situation in which my boss backed into my car in the company parking lot. I took the car to a shop that I trusted, got an estimate, and showed it to her. She wrote me a check. This kept the insurance company from getting involved. I don't know if I would do this with someone I didn't know, though.
posted by Ostara at 4:43 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah - I don't know him from Adam...I'm a trusting guy & it could be ok; but I really don't want the hassle. As noted by Rock Steady and McPuppington the Third, I would have limited recourse if the body shop did a sucky job.
posted by tandemrepeat at 4:48 PM on July 11, 2012

I had a similar situation in which my boss backed into my car in the company parking lot. I took the car to a shop that I trusted, got an estimate, and showed it to her. She wrote me a check. This kept the insurance company from getting involved. I don't know if I would do this with someone I didn't know, though.

This is a perfectly reasonable way to handle a car accident without involving insurance. Having the at-fault driver do the repairs himself is not.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:56 PM on July 11, 2012 [13 favorites]

When my mom was rear-ended, the other person paid out of pocket to cover the damages. When I was hit and the other person did not admit fault, I went through *their* insurance company and this didn't affect my insurance at all. It depends on where you are.

Call your insurance agent and ask them for advice. You definitely need to get the guys insurance, even if you don't file a claim. It's possible that if he fixes it and does a bad job, you'll no longer have any rights through your insurance. Or he may do a great job.

Also look up the place he supposedly works online and look for customer reviews. If they are well rated, this probably is a good choice.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:12 PM on July 11, 2012

Response by poster: The body shop seems legit and gets good reviews. I agree that out-of-insurance settlements can be done without issue. If I put aside the risk of being ripped off, by doing it his way, I would be doing him a favor for damage done to my new car. I would have to run around to save trouble for him. This is why I pay for insurance (apart from the legal requirement!).

Do I need to tell him that I'm going down the insurance route?
posted by tandemrepeat at 5:20 PM on July 11, 2012

No, but keep in mind that the other insurance company will only pay if he accepts liability or if you are going to sue the insurance company (not a likely result). I think he would be a jerk not to accept liability, but it is a possibility.
posted by saeculorum at 5:24 PM on July 11, 2012

Small clarification: you have full coverage, so your insurance company will pay period and will attempt to subrogate the cost to the other insurance company/the other guy. That detail is up to your insurance company and not you. However, if the subrogation fails, your insurance company is stuck with the bill and will have to pay for it somehow, either by increasing your rates as if it were an at-fault claim (likely) or increasing others' rates (which makes them less competitive).

I'm not trying to discourage you from doing this, because that's why you have insurance. I just want to point out it is not "free".
posted by saeculorum at 5:27 PM on July 11, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks - I can handle any bump in rates in exchange for peace of mind
posted by tandemrepeat at 5:33 PM on July 11, 2012

You can call your insurance agent and ask them what will happen to you, and that may help you decide. My neighbor hit my car and didn't want me to file a claim because this was his third accident in a year, but my insurance agent was helpful in helping me decide to file one. I'm glad I did, because the shop did really horrible work and required several visits before they actually repaired the damage correctly, and my insurance also covered a rental car, which my stingy neighbor probably wouldn't have agreed to. Not sure if that's a factor, but the rental car thing was what sold me on it.
posted by thesocietyfor at 5:33 PM on July 11, 2012

Response by poster: The rental car while being fixed is also a factor in my thinking - we only have one car.
posted by tandemrepeat at 5:35 PM on July 11, 2012

If subrogation fails, your rates going up will depend on who your insurance carrier is. I had a string of really bad car luck a couple of years back: flying shrapnel puncturing my a/c condenser, getting rear-ended (failed subrogation as the result), and having my car keyed. I was not held at fault for any of these incidents, and my premium actually went down at the next renewal.
posted by hwyengr at 5:50 PM on July 11, 2012

Oh, and I forgot to add, my agent tried to talk me out of filing the claim for the keying incident. But I happened to come across someone who worked at the Home Office of my insurance company (on a Mini Cooper forum), and he promised that nothing bad would come out of filing the claim since I was 100% not at fault.

Which of course led to my agent asking me, "Who are you going to trust? Me, or some person on the internet." Luckily I listened to the guy on the internet, and got a free new paint job.
posted by hwyengr at 5:53 PM on July 11, 2012

I used to work for a reputable mechanical workshop run by an scrupulously moral (Christian) boss, and there is no way on deity-of-choice's green earth that he would have allowed a deal like that.

Insurance is the way to go.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 6:05 PM on July 11, 2012

I had the same thing happen. Red light, hit from behind, other driver inattentive-distracted. He offered the repairs at a family shop to avoid insurance. I did involve police at the site and contacted my insurance to cover it all. Since it was a rear end hit I had no culpability at all. The other driver/insurance was responsible for all expenses including my deductible and rental car. Even with a simple extreme low speed hit repairs were nearly $2000 on a pt cruiser.

You should still be able to file a police report. Call the non-emergency number to ask what the process is. Have names and numbers for any witnesses or passengers.
posted by Talia Devane at 6:15 PM on July 11, 2012

Response by poster: How long do I have to file a police report?
posted by tandemrepeat at 6:30 PM on July 11, 2012

The rental car while being fixed is also a factor in my thinking - we only have one car.

Just go through insurance. You're setting yourself up for no end of hassles doing things under the table.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:30 PM on July 11, 2012

Wow, this exact thing happened to me about a year ago. Brand new car, a couple hundred miles on it, bumper scratched up. The driver was actually not the owner (it was a business vehicle his partner owned) but when he got on the phone with his partner, this was exactly what the guy proposed..."I know this guy with an auto-body shop..." Fortunately, the driver did not agree with this recommendation, so I wasn't forced to burst into tears anew and say, "Nooooooooo!"

There's no reason whatsoever for you to be forced to accept such a deal. Don't do it. Ask your insurance representatilve--they'll tell you absolutely not to agree to any such thing.

Weird how so many of us replying in this thread have had EXACTLY this same thing happen, down to the exact same circumstances and the age of the car.
posted by tully_monster at 6:31 PM on July 11, 2012

File an accident report now. This instant. Then call your insurance company. Then the'll take it from there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:02 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would call the police department as soon as possible to ask them the timeline for reporting an accident. Sooner is always better of course. They may send you an officer to take a statement or ask you to come in tomorrow.
posted by Talia Devane at 7:06 PM on July 11, 2012

BTW: you're cool even if you never get his insurance info. Some anecdata: a drunk idiot rear-ended me last December. Because I'd been rear-ended approximately 20,000 times before, I was VERY sure to notice her license plate number as she fled the scene. I filed a police report. Long story short: she was tried and convicted in absentia. My insurance company pursued her insurance company. More than a YEAR AND A HALF after the incident, my insurance company's subrogation department mailed me a check for my deductible. Those dudes were more dogged than alien bounty hunters.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:31 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. I'll file a police report in the morning (311 line is closed now) & start the insurance ball rolling after that.
posted by tandemrepeat at 7:34 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go to a doctor too and just get a record that you sought medical care. That way, if something flares up, you can show you did your due diligence at the start.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:45 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some states (like mine, RI) require a police report in order to make a claim. This can be done later, but most people do something like "don't move until we call the cops."

When some old duffer rear-ended me on an exit ramp and then followed me home to beg me not to call it in, I did so anyway. The cops had me stop in and fill out the accident report form, and then submit to a thirty-second lecture on How We Do Things In This State. [I had played the "not from around here" card to get some help.]

But I am adding my vote to letting your insurance company handle this for you.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:09 PM on July 11, 2012

Don't be surprised that the other driver will claim that they weren't involved in any accident. I was rear-ended, got all the info, including insurance. Made a police report, and a claim. The other driver simply stated it wasn't him. Since there was no "official witness" i.e. a cop at the scene, My insurance company said they could not pursue it. IIRC they did absolve me of the deductible.
posted by Gungho at 8:54 AM on July 12, 2012

My wife rear-ended somebody. He didn't want to go through insurance (he didn't say why) so I made him get two estimates from body shops and sign a paper saying if I paid him the average of the two estimates, I was free from further liability. I paid him with a check so I would have a record of the transaction. Everything went well.

You could have a different experience, of course, but it worked for us.
posted by tacodave at 3:41 PM on July 12, 2012

Response by poster: Submitted an insurance claim a week or so ago - the other guys insurance has accepted liability and is arranging for the damage to be assessed and repaired. Thanks for all the comments and discussion! Was very helpful.
posted by tandemrepeat at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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