Long time driver, first time accident
April 6, 2014 7:30 PM   Subscribe

So, I'm in my 30s and I had my first car accident last night.

I was picking up my wife from a bar, and as I pulled into a parking spot out front, I hit the gas instead of the brake and hit the jeep in front of me. My bumper rode under his, damaging the plastic frontpiece, the grille, one headlight and denting/scraping the hood. His back bumper was scraped a bit and the cloth cover on his spare tire was torn.

This was completely my fault. I went inside the bar, found my wife and then the owner of the jeep (her friend's brother-in-law). I exchanged information with him and went home for the night. I did some cursory research and the cost for the bumper/frontpiece, headlight assembly and a new hood would easily equal my insurance deductible, and that's before labor. So... what do I do now? Make claim, bring it to one of their approved repair shops, and gird myself for my premiums to go up in June? Any tips or tricks I should know?
posted by Oktober to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
You're also probably going to have to pay to repair the Jeep, since it was your fault, along with paint and whatever frame work you might need on your car. Yeah, make the claim. You haave more than just collision insurance right?
posted by notsnot at 7:35 PM on April 6, 2014

Response by poster: Yep, I've got comprehensive insurance. Outside the bar he was like "don't worry about it, accidents happen", but later his wife texted mine for our insurance info.
posted by Oktober at 7:39 PM on April 6, 2014

Best answer: You need to call your insurance agency and tell them what happened. Give them all his info. It's generally advised to call your insurance agency as soon as the accident takes place, as it's better for them to get the details from you than from his insurance claim.

Once you've filed the claim with your agency, they should guide you through the rest of the process. It's not awesome, but it's not terrible.
posted by dotgirl at 7:43 PM on April 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Fair enough, I've submitted the claim.
posted by Oktober at 7:50 PM on April 6, 2014

Outside the bar he was like "don't worry about it, accidents happen", but later his wife texted mine for our insurance info.

These are not contradictory things. You have insurance because accidents happen. Don't worry about it.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:16 PM on April 6, 2014 [9 favorites]

Yep, you contact your insurance company, give them any information on his insurance that you have, and that's how grownups do accidents. It happens. I drive like a grandma but it's happened to me a few times (both my fault and not my fault).

For what it's worth, when you get to the advanced age of 30-plus, your premiums won't go up so much for such a basic accident, especially if you also don't have a lot of speeding tickets or other moving violations. That's the privilege of not having an extensive record of accidents.
posted by padraigin at 8:21 PM on April 6, 2014

Here's hoping your insurance has accident forgiveness because you will see rates increase for an at-fault accident.

Hell, some states, some insurers even have a "NO CLAIMS" bonus, which makes you reluctant even to file claims for things that you had nothing to do with. Arizona, where we live, isn't one, but my wife DID have her car BADLY dinged by some jackass in a parking lot who didn't leave a note, so we files, because it was a shocking amount of damage to her door.

His insurance will now ask your insurance to pay for the claim since you've admitted fault. Your insurance will be moderately annoyed by the fault admission, but there wasn't really another approach here, so they will pay out the claim and raise your rates accordingly, assuming they don't have accident forgiveness. You will see this premium increase when you go to renew. It will take either 3 or 5 years to come off your insurance.

Also, this is likely more to be covered by collision than comprehensive, but that'll depend on the specifics of the accident.
posted by disillusioned at 1:29 AM on April 7, 2014

Best answer: First good on you for coming correct. Most people would have just driven off angry at the damage that parked car did to their front end.

Outside the bar he was like "don't worry about it, accidents happen", but later his wife texted mine for our insurance info.

When this first happened to me, texting was not invented and I sorely regretted not turning the claim over to my insurance company. The nice guy who was "no big deal" outside the 7-11 turned the repair of his beater vehicle in the biggest, most expensive deal in the world once on the other end of a telephone. Just because you are a decent person, doesn't mean people will treat you with decency. Au contraire. To some people you look like an easy con.

Let your insurance company handle it. They are used to dealing with fraud and you have no idea what sort of underbody, hidden damage the owner of that vehicle will try to blame on you.
posted by three blind mice at 2:18 AM on April 7, 2014

Always, always, go through insurance.
Some insurance companies will let you pay out the claim after the fact. For example, if your deductible is $500 and the total of all the damages is $800. You weigh the costs of the accident versus the deductible plus the increase in your insurance for as many years as it is effected. If the future costs and deductible are more than the $800, you could pay the insurance company the $800 (cost of the accident), then they wouldn't up you insurance rates. It would be as if the claim never happened.
Once your insurance information is passed to the other party, you definitely should contact your insurance company as the other party very well might. Even if the accident is completely your fault, you always need to get you side of the story to the insurance company.
posted by BostonCannuck at 7:22 AM on April 7, 2014

I'm 33 and had my first fender bender last fall. Well, the first one that I caused anyway. My insurance dealt with everything. I had to schedule a phone call where they could record my statement, then take my car down to a shop for them to assess the damage. They cut me a check for the estimated cost of the repairs minus my deductible.

My insurance premiums didn't go up at all. I don't even have the accident forgiveness or anything.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:29 AM on April 7, 2014

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