Can I take a check rather than repairs from the other drivers’ insurer?
January 3, 2019 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I was in a minor accident where the other driver scraped up my car. He immediately took responsibility and started a claim with his insurer. I have not and did not contact my insurance company at all. Their insurer told me I could either get an estimate on my own or go with one of their approved shops.

I got an estimate from a place I’ve used in the past that I believe is one of their approved shops. I’ve decided that I’d rather have the cash than fix the purely aesthetic damage. Is this something that’s legal? How do I address this with the insurer? Can I straight up say I’d prefer a check to have the damage repaired on my own time without them arguing I should or need to have them pay a repair shop directly? Any advice is appreciated, thanks!
posted by arm426 to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sure. This is all they need to know:
"I’d prefer a check to have the damage repaired on my own time ."
posted by calgirl at 12:28 PM on January 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

I believe that they typically only give you half the money if you are not getting the car repaired (they assume that the body shop has 50% profit level).
posted by 445supermag at 12:37 PM on January 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

At a high level, the insurance company will offer you one of three choices:
  1. Pay you an amount equal to their estimate.
  2. Pay an approved shop any amount of money to complete the repair (even if above their estimate).
  3. Pay any shop an amount of money equal to their estimate to complete the repair (note, this is effectively equivalent to 1)
I don't think there's any particular relationship between the insurance estimate and the body shop's pricing. Certainly most body shops don't run with a 50% profit margin! At least in the single case I had to go through this with, the insurance estimate for a repair was ~$4K. I took the approved shop option and the approved shop ended up charging the insurance company about ~$5K.
posted by saeculorum at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2019

As a general rule the check will be made out to you and you can do with it whatever you want, at least in oklahoma that is how it works. If you have any type of lien on your vehicle, it might be made out to you and the body shop or you and your lienholder, but generally that is only when your insurance is involved.

You can state your wish to have the check made to you, just to make sure. It is the insurance companys obligation to make you whole for damages, not really to follow up what you do with it. The only way it could backfire is if you have a claim with the same insurance company in the future on the same vehicle. They could possibly note prior damage not repaired and adjust their payment accordingly
posted by domino at 1:04 PM on January 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

In the past year, a driver hit my car and did $1400 worth of damage. His insurance agreed with my shop's estimate and cut me a check. I did not have to get the car repaired if I didn't want to.
posted by zippy at 1:57 PM on January 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yep, they’ll just give you a check for whatever their estimate is for. I got my car backed into last year and that’s what happened.
posted by Automocar at 2:57 PM on January 3, 2019

Yes, I asked how many estimates they needed and sent those over. They paid me an average and I also asked for (and got) the car rental reimbursement amount they would have paid for the number of days the repair was supposed to take.
posted by quince at 3:44 PM on January 3, 2019

I did this a while back, someone had scraped my station wagon on the rear panel, and the estimate was $800 or so. I took the check and guess what, my trans went the next month and that paid for it, so if you can, I'd say do it.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:46 PM on January 3, 2019

I have a dent in the side of my truck that paid for A/C and a new clutch ...

In my case, this was stupid simple. I took my car to an approved body shop, they prepared an estimate, and I received a check for the full value of the estimate. Nobody blinked an eye at my taking the check, though the body shop was a bit surprised that my 28-year-old vehicle turned out to be worth enough that $1700 of damage didn't total it =D
posted by Metasyntactic at 4:42 PM on January 3, 2019

The decision on whether to repair is yours—and it’s OK to not repair
If you don’t own your vehicle—check with your lienholder or leasing company before making a decision. In order to protect their interest, they may require that you repair.

posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 9:15 AM on January 7, 2019

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