Car backed into, the driver wants to handle without insurance
June 9, 2016 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I left my car on the street in front of a friend's and it was backed into by one of their neighbors while I was out of town. My friend took the guy's info, but the driver wants to handle without involving insurance. What should I do?

I don't like the idea of trying to collect without involving insurance, but I am worried if I report it, my premiums may go up even though the car was parked and there was no way I was at fault. Would they go up? Any advice?

The collision broke the plastic body panel and scratched its paint.

Difficulty modifier: No police report filed as I only found out about it after I landed on an evening flight and was facing a many hour drive home.
posted by entropicamericana to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'd probably insist on going through insurance unless your friend knows this guy and can vouch for him. Car insurance is notoriously fickle, but I think your premiums are highly unlikely to go up - certainly not by a substantial amount.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:11 AM on June 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

I can't imagine a scenario in which your premiums would go up for this. I always go through my insurance. In the past two years, I was involved in two situations where I was absolutely 100% not at fault (my car not even moving, either legally parked or legally stopped at a red light) and got hit. I involved my insurance and they took care of everything, my premiums did not go up and I got my deductibles refunded to me after they collected from the other insurance company.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:12 AM on June 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

I would probably accept double the expected repair amount in cash in exchange for not reporting it to your insurance, maybe 150% if I was on friendly terms with the neighbor. I would immediately report to insurance if the neighbor gave any indication he couldn't pay this amount promptly.

I do not think your premiums would go up if you reported. I've found agents are happy to discuss hypothetical situations with you, even without knowing your identity or whether you have insurance, however, so you can always call and ask without risk.
posted by deadweightloss at 8:14 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Tell him you aren't going to not report it to your insurance, so it will get reported to his insurance, sorry.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:14 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

You can file a police report now, they will come after the accident.
posted by bq at 8:18 AM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

The likelihood of getting screwed by someone in a situation like this drastically increases when you're dealing with someone who wants to bend rules to begin with.

And yeah, you can file a police report whenever. Its usually just a formality for the insurance company.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:20 AM on June 9, 2016 [15 favorites]

Well you can give it a shot.
Can you get a quick estimate or two and present that amount to the neighbor?
See whether he comes up with the money quickly--give him a deadline.
Let him know if he doesn't agree on the amount and/or can't come up with the cash then you've got to report to your insurance.
Please don't involve your friend or ask him to vouch for the neighbor.
posted by calgirl at 8:21 AM on June 9, 2016

I don't think the neighbor's request is NECESSARILY that unusual or unreasonable. I don't see any problem with seeing if you can do it without insurance. Let the guy know you'll get a quote, and expect him to pay it in full, in advance, right away. If he does anything short of that, you can always report it to your insurance then (check your policy for time limits, etc). Can't imagine your premiums would go up for something that is not your fault, especially if it's not a place you park regularly. Also, as bq said, you can definitely file a police report long after the fact, if you so wish. Good luck, these situations are such a pain!
posted by reksb at 8:22 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think it may depend if you are in an no fault insurance state if your premiums could change. I think in those states you are at partial 'fault' just for having a car and being in that location for someone to hit you! :/

I'd get an estimate for the repair that is padded with 20% for contingency and give it to the neighbor letting him know he will get the final bill and anything left refunded. If he pays up front I'd get the repair done outside of insurance.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 8:24 AM on June 9, 2016

I'd really recommend calling the police and make a report: most insurance companies insist on a police report before paying out. Then you call your insurer, and they'll deal with the other guy's insurer --- you do not deal directly with his insurance company: your own insurer will do that. And it's very, very unlikely your rates will go up; he wants to do this without a formal claim because his rates --- as the driver at fault --- will go up. Not yours.

The reason to make that police report and insurance claim (instead of doing it off the books, so to speak) is, backing into your car hard enough to break the body panel raises the strong possibility of hidden damage underneath. And that equals more money to fix things.

I've been hit by other people three times now (one was a hit & run, so no other-drive info; the other two I got all their information), and have never had my insurance rates hiked because of any of those accidents. In all three, I filed police reports. If any of the three had been minor fender-benders, I might have dealt with things differently, but I'm not paying $$$ because someone else hits my car.

Oh, and if the other guy says he knows someone who can fix your car? No. You pick the bodyshop, don't listen to the guy who would like to get out of this as cheap as he can.
posted by easily confused at 8:30 AM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

At least give him a shot to work with you in cash. It's not like you can't file the claim if it doesn't work out. I've done this twice, once myself, and once when someone hit me. When it was me, I paid up fully. When I was giving someone the chance, they flaked and I went through insurance anyway.

The danger is in if there's hidden damage once the repair is underway, but that's more to do with frame issues and not with paint scratches.
posted by hwyengr at 8:32 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would accept not involving insurance if the guy is like, a fairly wealthy individual who is extremely apologetic and polite and will pay you MORE, right now, with a large check.

If he's going to pay you the exact value, and is going to grumble and mutter about, "Well what if you could get a cheaper quote elsewhere blah blah" and just seems like a sort of financially unstable or shady individual, oh hell no. In no way is that a better deal for you than involving insurance.
posted by quincunx at 8:33 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I can file a police report even from out of town a day later?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:39 AM on June 9, 2016

Good bodywork costs a lot of money. More than most people realize, I think, so the odds are they'll be grumpy about the estimate. That was my experience. I took a friend of a neighbor up on the request to pay directly. Sent the quote to the kid's mom.

She grumbled about the cost and unpleasant phone calls were exchanged over the course of a couple weeks. She told me my car was a POS and wasn't worth the repair. Eventually threats of police reports were leveled and mom coughed up the dough along with some ridiculous passive aggressive contract written by an amateur lawyer.

Royal pain in the butt. Next time I'd just go through the police and insurance, for sure.
posted by woof at 8:43 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've done this before. When I was in college I backed into the Dean's car in a parking lot (AWESOME) and he was kind enough to not run in through insurance because I offered to pay cash for the repairs. Get an estimate to make sure there isn't crazy damage, and go from there.
posted by notjustthefish at 8:49 AM on June 9, 2016

Call the police department's non-emergency number, they'll help you out from there.

Remember: he doesn't want to deal with insurance for his benefit, not yours. Maybe he's driving on a suspended license, maybe he doesn't even have insurance, maybe he already has high rates because he's already had a bunch of accident claims --- none of which is your problem.
posted by easily confused at 8:59 AM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I can file a police report even from out of town a day later?

Yes. Look on the PD's website where your car was hit. They may have an online reporting system. If they don't, see if they have a Telephone Reporting Unit. Most will take a courtesy report when it's for insurance purposes. If for some reason they don't, you can call your local PD and ask them to take a report.
posted by Beti at 9:01 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you go along with not telling insurance about it, you might check and see whether you'll be violating any agreements you made with your insurance. If a collision repair or damage report shows up on a vehicle history report, they'll eventually make the connection via your VIN.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:02 AM on June 9, 2016

I've had my car backed into a few times and done:
a) pure off-the-books settlement,
b) having their insurance company pay me without involving mine,
c) involving both our insurance companies,
d) involving the policy and our insurance companies.

I found B and D to have the best outcomes. With B, they told their company what happened, their company called me, I got a repair quote from a shop, and their company wrote a check for the full amount plus a rental. Their insurance isn't going to balk if the policyholder admits to hitting your car. That said, I'd have been happy to get my insurance involved if needed.

Another time, I exchanged insurance information but they were uninsured. I never followed up, but a couple months later another driver totaled my car. My insurance company asked me about the previous damage, but I only needed to file a second collision claim retroactively so they could proceed with the big one.
posted by michaelh at 9:14 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Go through your insurance company. That's what you pay them for.
posted by osi at 9:16 AM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you go along with not telling insurance about it, you might check and see whether you'll be violating any agreements you made with your insurance.

A lot of insurance policies have some kind of catchall phrasing about "failure to disclose a material fact" possibly allowing the policy to be invalidated. So I'd be very careful in this case (e.g. if this repair actually leaves the frame weaker, leading to a much higher chance of personal injury in a subsequent accident, so the insurance company goes digging for an excuse not to pay).
posted by Azara at 9:29 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Correction: meant to say "involving the police and our insurance companies."
posted by michaelh at 9:39 AM on June 9, 2016

I would go through the other person's insurance. I have been rear-ended several times in the last few years, and the estimates are never exactly the total amount of the repair in the end. Once they take some parts off the car they inevitably find additional damage or things that need to be replaced. In fact, my car is in the shop right now for repair from a rear-ending and I just got a call that they needed $100 extra in parts and labor because there was additional damage not seen during the estimate.

If the neighbor pays you based on the estimate and then the final bill ends up being more, how likely do you think they will be willing to fork out more money? They are hoping for a quick settlement and to move on.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:55 AM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

This is what your insurance company will regard as a "not at fault" claim. Your car was parked and unoccupied. They will not penalize you or raise your rates.

Keep things simple and allow them to handle this situation. They will reimburse you for the repairs to your car less your deductible. Then they will take action to collect from the other person's insurance carrier. This is routine stuff between insurance companies, it happens all the time. It takes place very matter of fact behind the scenes.

Because the driver who hit your car is completely at fault, your insurance company will recoup all the money involved in the repair, including your deductible, from the other person's insurance carrier. When that happens, they will refund the deductible to you.

You will live happily ever after.
posted by elf27 at 9:57 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

There is probably a lot more damage under the bumper. A small dent on a parked car might total the vehicle or render it unsafe to drive!!

Ask me how I know.

Get an assessment of the damage or jump straight to filing with their insurance company.
posted by jbenben at 10:06 AM on June 9, 2016

This is why you pay your own insurance premium: so that when someone damages your car, you can have it restored completely as possible to the pre-collision condition without wasting your own time getting reimbursed or having to figure out how to get reimbursed or dealing with costs that run beyond the initial estimate or--depending on your insurance company and policy--tracking down a reputable repair shop, assessing whether the costs are appropriate and getting a rental while your own car is unavailable to you.

If you feel like it's not worth dealing with your own insurance company for the services you pay them for (ensuring the costs of your car repair are appropriately and adequately covered) and believe that the neighbor will appropriately and adequately cover the costs of restoring your car, then accept the cash. I would not, but many people do, purportedly without trouble.

As many people have noted above, when your car is damaged, but not reported to the insurance company, in can cause problems for you in the future if it is involved in a later collision.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:21 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing call your insurance. We had a similar situation (they offered to fix) and the other party got nasty very fast as soon as we went to the insurance company. I shudder to think what would have happened if we hadn’t gone to insurance.
posted by prettypretty at 3:19 PM on June 9, 2016

I've been in this situation; I'm in a no-fault state and my car was hit while it was parked, and the other driver was adament that we not go through insurance, even though the estimate was over $3500.

I gave them a (generous) deadline to pay the body repair shop by, and when they failed to do that, I reported it to my insurance company, even though it was a few weeks after the accident. I had no problems and my rates did not go up. Your insurance company can find out what insurance the other driver has if you don't have this information.
posted by inertia at 5:33 PM on June 9, 2016

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! I have opened a claim with his insurance, which also happens to be the same agency as mine.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:52 AM on June 10, 2016

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