rear-ended: go through insurance or not?
May 7, 2016 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Today my husband and I were rear-ended. The only visible damage is a bit of paint from her license plate on our bumper. (Though my husband thinks there could be other damage behind the bumper that we cannot see).

She is strongly asking that she just pay us cash and we do not go through insurance b/c she does not want her premium to go up. I have never done this w/ a car accident; my husband has. It feels a bit unfair to me. What say you, MeFites? Have you done this and had it work out fine? Or had it work out not-fine? We have her information.

Also, my neck and head definitely hurt a little bit--in case I need to visit a doctor and have it checked out, is it best to go through insurance so that she pays for any bills I incur?
posted by bookworm4125 to Travel & Transportation (31 answers total)
Definitely go through insurance, it's why you pay the premium.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 2:01 PM on May 7, 2016 [19 favorites]

She's trying to avoid the penalties for her driving actions. That is not your problem. Your insurance company has been paid handsomely over the years to do this work for you. Let them.
posted by cecic at 2:07 PM on May 7, 2016 [17 favorites]

Sorry to threadsit, but my husband just reminded me that she said she would pay $200 extra if we don't go through insurance.
posted by bookworm4125 at 2:09 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

No Nono no no. Go through insurance.
posted by tilde at 2:10 PM on May 7, 2016 [10 favorites]

If you were hit hard enough to feel any physical effect there is almost certainly more damage to the car than meets the eye. Regardless of what the best choice is for you, once the person who hit you sees the estimate to repair the car she may reconsider and want to use her insurance. With the bumpers on today's autos, what appears to be little more than cosmetic may easily run $1,000+++
posted by Carbolic at 2:12 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Especially with more modern cars with composite materials, the damage you can see does not necessarily reflect the full extent of damage. Your bumper's impact-dampening materials could be totally ruined on the inside, and your next wreck might be much worse off because of it.

You should go through the proper channels, and get it inspected by a credible body shop that can work with the other party's insurance.
posted by BrandonW at 2:12 PM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you search the Ask MetaFilter archives you will find a number of examples where people asked this question, ignored advice not to work around the automobile insurance system, and then regretted it, big time.
posted by grouse at 2:13 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Settling directly is not illegal and insurance pros actually say it's fine in some circumstances, but if you even have an inkling of sore neck/whiplash, don't do it.
posted by beagle at 2:15 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Always, always go through insurance.
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 2:22 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Her premium is not your problem. There may be hidden damage to the car - for example, the frame may be warped. This is common in modern cars as they to you as they are designed to crumple to take the force of the impact. Or you may have complications or lasting injury from the whiplash.

Go through insurance. That's what it's for.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:24 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

There may be hidden damage to your car. There may be hidden damage to your neck or back. You don't know that "pay for the bumper damage + $200" is going to cover it. If there are ANY medical issues, it certainly won't.

She hit you. It is her fault. Her issues are not your problem. If she doesn't want her premium to go up, then she should become a better driver. Go through your insurance; that's why you pay for it.
posted by erst at 2:27 PM on May 7, 2016 [8 favorites]

Go through insurance. You suspect there may be hidden damage and are experiencing neck pain. If she's that worried about her car insurance premium going up, she probably won't have the resources to compensate you for your full costs, if this is more serious than it initially seems. Also, her offering $200 extra not to go through insurance sets off alarms bells for me. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 2:41 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Go through insurance, you don't know her from a bar of soap. Call the police and file s report, then call your insurance.

Head over to emergency for an ssssessment. Emergency because they have X-ray and MRI.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:47 PM on May 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Please go through insurance. This is why you pay them. Do not trust people that damage your property.

Btw, there are so many ways this can go wrong. Do you want to deal with that or have your insurance deal with it?
posted by lunastellasol at 2:56 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would go through insurance. This year I was rear-ended and it looked like it wasn't anything but some scratch paint, however it end up costing $4,000 to repair the damage because there was some frame damage that I couldn't see so glad that I went and had it inspected instead and when to Insurance because I would have had the 4000 to go ahead and cover it highly doubt the person who rear-ended me would have given me $4,000..
Not to mention the damage to the frame would have been more dangerous had I gone around with a bent frame and someone rear-ended me later on then the bumper when it worked properly at all. And this case I'd say that you're better safe than sorry it's really a matter of safety and a matter of making sure that all the work that needs to be done is done plus you could easily go to the mechanic and find out the whatever she gave you wasn't adequate and she might not have the money to actually pay for it.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 3:01 PM on May 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Anytime anyone says "hey lets do this without insurance" it should be a red giant neon flashing sign that alerts you to go through your insurance.

You're not at fault, your insurance company should be dealing with this. This is why you pay them.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:12 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites] husband just reminded me that she said she would pay $200 extra if we don't go through insurance.

That's pretty generous considering you haven't even gotten an estimate.

I did this once, when my car was broadsided by an old dude in a land yacht. He pleaded not to turn it into insurance, and he'd pay cash for all expenses. So, I did it his way and it all turned out fine.

First things first, you need to get a comprehensive inspection of the car. And, make sure you have her insurance information, just in case she decides to disappear before she can make good on her offer.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:12 PM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've been rear-ended twice, both times at pretty low speeds (definitely under 10 mph). In neither case did I have any physical after-effects, and in both cases the bumper lining was crushed - which is what is supposed to happen to it! - and the bumper needed to be replaced. I went through insurance both times; any other way seemed too risky. And you have possible physical symptoms from this? Insurance.
posted by rtha at 3:19 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Go through your insurance. There's too much risk if you don't. You could have medical complications or there could be more damage as others have said. Her premiums going up is not your problem. She's at fault. This is why you pay for insurance.
posted by FireFountain at 3:21 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

My parked car got a hit and run in my work parking lot (much thanks to the anonymous colleague who saw the accident and contacted security!) and what looked like a little scratch ended up being over $800 in damage. Absolutely insurance.
posted by Ruki at 3:47 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Whiplash doesn't hit for a day or two. Go through insurance.
posted by k8t at 4:14 PM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have settled directly - A delivery driver dented my car and drove off. Unluckily for him he'd been delivering food to my house, so I called his employer and determined that it was him who damaged my car. He refused to answer whether he had insurance and transferred the money once I gave him a quote for the repair.

But that was quite minor damage and I was not in a car, so there was no chance that I was injured. I think you should go through insurance. Don't worry about her premium; that's not your problem.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:24 PM on May 7, 2016

You pay your insurance premiums, right? They include coverage for under-insured or uninsured motorists, right? You've paid for assistance and coverage if someone hits your car while you're driving, why would you not use the service you've already paid for?
posted by crush-onastick at 4:25 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

And I don't mean that in a snarky, or gotcha! sense. I mean it as a question which answer might help you decide what to so.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:26 PM on May 7, 2016

Thanks everyone! Just got off the phone w/ State Farm. You all confirmed what I had originally thought. I appreciate your advice! Icing my neck and will see how it is tomorrow.
posted by bookworm4125 at 4:39 PM on May 7, 2016 [9 favorites]

My wife's Lexus was rear-ended on a freeway exit ramp. A bit of a scratch to the rear bumper; I thought we'd be fine -- but no. The insurance investigators said the internal damage was such, the car could not be repaired for less than the blue book value -- ie it was totalled. Quite typical with modern cars, I understand. Repeating others' advice - do not settle with the other driver.
posted by Rash at 6:09 PM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Many of the responses here imply a false dilemma: you can either go through insurance and have your car properly repaired, or accept payment directly from the car owner and risk a badly damaged car that's unsafe and won't be repaired properly. These are not the only two options you have.

The other driver needs to make you whole. If there's $500 of damage to your car, they owe you $500. If there's $5K of damage to your car, they owe you $5K. There's nothing wrong with getting a thorough estimate from a shop you trust to find out how much you're owed. You don't have to arrive on a number without getting a proper estimate, which I agree would be incredibly foolish.

Recognize that responses like "No Nono no no. Go through insurance." and "Always, always go through insurance." were presented without any argument. As a counterpoint, imagine that you learn the damage is entirely cosmetic and it will cost $800 to replace your bumper cover. The driver will kick in another $200 because they would prefer a $1K cash expense to ~$2K of increased premiums over the next 3 years. You now get to fix your bumper and get $200 for the trouble, or decide you don't care about the cosmetic damage and pocket $1K in compensation.

The purpose of insurance is to convert risk (of costs you cannot afford) into expense (that is predictably affordable to you). If the other driver can afford the costs of their actions (make you whole) without using insurance, it doesn't really matter. What matters is their liability to make you whole.

The response that "Her premium is not your problem" may be true, but there's no reason to go through insurance as a punitive measure, which is how I read "She's trying to avoid the penalties for her driving actions."

Also, "Head over to emergency for an assessment" is pretty unnecessary unless you think you have, well, an emergency. Go to your doctor if you need medical care. Go to the ER if you need emergency medical care.
posted by reeddavid at 11:14 PM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised State Farm recommended that you go get assessed at the ER. My wife was in an accident and felt nothing wrong, but was told to go anyway because SF wanted that on record as they began the settlement process. You might feel fine now, but you could have neck problems down the road. Please go get checked out.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:23 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Meant to say I'm surprised they didn't ask you to go...
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:00 AM on May 8, 2016

Impacts of this nature can really screw with the calibrations of safety devices (airbags etc.) in your car. I would take this through insurance.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:34 PM on May 8, 2016

From the original post: The only visible damage is a bit of paint from her license plate on our bumper. This sounds like the type of damage you can expect from parking on a city street.

turbid dahlia can you point to any evidence of the airbag system needing to be re-calibrated after an impact that did not deploy the air bags and did not trigger any warning lights? That sounds completely unnecessary. If it's a concern, sure, get it checked out by a good auto shop. But you don't need to go through insurance just to get a car thoroughly inspected after a minor accident.
posted by reeddavid at 1:28 PM on May 9, 2016

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