Rear-ended this afternoon
June 21, 2021 9:05 PM   Subscribe

You are not my insurance agent. I was quietly minding my business this afternoon at an about-to-turn red light at a four way, when a large truck hit my compact/small car from behind. We both pulled over, exchanged info. For some reason (local festival?) the police had stopped responding to calls. I went home and called my insurance co., and got into the doc's last appointment of the day -- just in case.

It could always be better, it could have been a lot worse. Like, the bumper is still attached (if a bit crooked). I had my foot on the brake and wasn't hurled anywhere into the middle of the intersection. And, the doctor says nothing's broken. Always a relief. Of course I had my seat belt on. The hard red plastic covering the brake lights was blown off. I had red tape but I don't want to send any flags (red tape is OK and signed off on by the local authorities).

It sounds like I have to take the car in and leave it (insurance covers $40/day for a rental when rentals are at an all-time high of minimum of $100/day due to covid-19. I have no one to pick me up or anything like that. Also, do I need an attorney or only if her company balks? My co (GEICO) said they will collect the $500 deductible and go after her company. I need to debate whether the $500 is worth it on a ten year old car that still runs like an absolute charm.

I'm just sad and tired and worn out and achy.
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So you can file a claim directly with the other persons insurance directly and skip the deductible. I’ve done this in a similar (obviously their fault incident) and it was a relatively painless process. I called them, filed the claim, their adjuster called the client then told me they’d cover the claim. I went to a shop on their approved list (highly reviewed on Yelp so that was fine)

If they don’t cover the claim you can go back to your insurance and pay the deductible then. You should not need a lawyer your insurance company would hash it out with theirs.

I know you filing with their insurance sounds like a hassle but its worth a try.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:21 PM on June 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

As a former medical massage therapist who worked on hundreds of car accident victims, I saw many folks who didn't immediately feel injured right after their crash. Please do not sign anything that says you promise not to sue for medical damages. Yeah, your doctor says nothing is broken, but soft tissue damage can reveal itself in the coming weeks.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 2:38 AM on June 22, 2021 [11 favorites]

I was in a minor, their fault car accident (someone came around a turn in a parking garage as I was exiting, rammed into my passenger door so hard the hubcap broke). Their insurance paid for everything, including car rental for a day or so it took to fix. No deductible, no change to my premium. You pay your insurance to go after their insurance. I have GEICO too. If I were you I would call them back for clarification.

Definitely do not sign anything about not suing for medical damages. As a teen driver I was rear-ended, was on my parents' insurance so not sure how costs of repair were handled then, but I had a whiplash injury that only manifested a day or so later, once the adrenaline had worn off.
posted by basalganglia at 2:55 AM on June 22, 2021

It would actually be counterproductive to hire your own attorney. You would presumably hire a non-sociopath, while the insurance company hires attorneys whose only meaning in life is derived from making money for their employer. Let your insurance company hire them, and while you’re on the same side, let those people do what they do.

File directly with the other person’s company. Your company shouldn’t be involved at all, because you’re not at fault at all. (The other driver’s company might try to get yours involved, but again, let their lawyers handle that. Your company’s lawyers will win.) This also means using the other guy’s towing and rental coverages. Honestly, if you could turn back time, you shouldn’t have told GEICO anything at all.

Document that you made an effort to call the police. Screenshot the recent calls list and the individual call record. Their company might try to use the lack of police report against you, so if you can have documentation that you tried, that’s helpful.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:46 AM on June 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

Local laws vary, but usually if the damage to the car exceeds a given value or if there are any injuries, you're often required to fill out and submit an accident report to the police. If probably can't hurt to submit one anyway because it establishes a record of what happened, even if it's your own self-reporting. Check to see if you can download the form from your local state's DMV.

Also, do you have an insurance agent (the company you bought insurance through if you didn't buy it directly from GEICO)? They can be a helpful intermediary and can assist with putting together a claim on your insurance or on the other driver's.

When my car got hit by a truck, I forwarded the police report, a copy of my own accident report, and the other drivers' insurance information to my agent and they guided me through submitting a claim. And when the other drivers's out-of-state insurance summarily denied that claim and tried to intimidate me about filing false claims, my agent handled the process of going through my insurer and making sure they knew that we had already tried the other insurance first, been denied on a rather convenient technicality, and even that I had been directly contacted and threatened about false claims. Presumably the two insurers then met for fisticuffs at dawn, but I didn't really care because by then I had a check in hand from my insurance company.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:00 AM on June 22, 2021

I don't think it's a mistake that you told your insurance company! Maybe this is something that differs based on location, though? When this has happened to me, MY insurance company has dealt with THEIR insurance company. And that's good, because while their insurance company has a financial obligation to you, they don't have any customer service obligation to you and they can be obstructive assholes if they feel like it. The other guy's insurance has an incentive to annoy you so much you give up; your insurance company has an incentive to keep you happy, since you are still their paying customer.

When I was rear-ended, I did not have rental replacement coverage on my insurance at all, I don't think, but I ended up getting a rental car for at least a week or two (paid for by other guy's insurance). I did not have to pay my deductible. When you're not at fault, you shouldn't have to pay for anything. (It may have helped that I did have a police report - never even had to call the police because the crash happened on a busy side road and blocked rush-hour traffic.)
posted by mskyle at 5:06 AM on June 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don't understand the idea that you shouldn't have contacted your insurance company, although maybe this is something that varies by state. I got rear-ended a few years ago. The police came and did what they do, then GEICO took care of everything in terms of dealing with the other driver's insurance (It was completely the other person's fault). My car was totaled, and I got payment in less than a week, and was reimbursed for a rental car and my deductible within a couple months. This is what insurance companies are for. It appears you've done everything correctly. It seems odd that you would need to leave the car for a day for them to evaluate the damage, so you should look into that to see if you can have it done while you're there, but aside from that, GEICO should handle everything.
posted by jonathanhughes at 5:38 AM on June 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

I think it does vary state-by-state due to differing levels of regulation and consumer protection. Ideally, the insurance company is on your side, but discounts often come with a price. See also a recent post on the Blue.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:52 AM on June 22, 2021

People used to say that you shouldn't report incidents to your own insurance company because they would raise your rates or drop you because you'd gone from zero incidents to one (or one to two). The belief was that the insurance company wouldn't know if you didn't tell them, and they couldn't hold it against you if they didn't know. That hasn't been true in a very long time, because all the insurance companies now have services that report any incidents resulting in damage, and they just check your VIN against the records they're already getting. Omission will get you nowhere. When you get an estimate for repair your car's VIN is attached to the estimate, and the insurance company will see it.

And insurance companies don't base rates on single payouts, they base rates on actuarial tables. A 40 year old woman who drives a family car and has one accident is statistically less likely to have another accident soon than a 30 year old man driving a "sports car" (for insurance company definitions of "sports car," which may differ from normal human perception). The risk of a raised rate or dropped policy is (generally) not based on a single incident. Nor is it based on you calling or not calling your insurance company after a collision. It's not a problem that you called them.

In general you should get three quotes, but that may not even be true anymore with all the estimates being computerized now. The last time I needed to get estimates all three were identical and even came with printouts from the same system and a different body shop's name at the top. When I had GEICO they had their own drive up estimate place in the suburbs. I don't remember if they had their own body shop or if they just provided a quote that could be taken to any dealer, but I do remember that part being a lot less painful than it was when I had a policy with another company. (Ironically, GEICO did later drop me, but they didn't drop me in any way that seemed connected to that payout. It was like a year and a half afterward).
posted by fedward at 6:19 AM on June 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

I had a similar accident a few years ago. called my company and they asked if I had contacted the person who was at fault's company. I was in the process of doing that when they called me and it was all settled. Car was fixed at a good place, I got a loaner for the week it was out of service, and paid nothing. Rates didn't go up.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 9:33 AM on June 22, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks very much, all. One clarification: I meant I would have to take the car in to be repaired and therefore be carless for an indeterminate time, in a crap public transportation town, and that even if I rented a car for that time (great time to be starting a new job! oh well), they would only pay $40 of $100 per day (I rented a car a couple months ago and everything you have heard about covid-19 affecting rental rates and availability is true).
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 9:47 AM on June 22, 2021

Right, but depending on the protections in your location, the other person's insurance company may be responsible for your ACTUAL DAMAGES (i.e. $100 a day to rent a car). How much your insurance is obligated to pay you is not necessarily relevant here. You could have *no rental coverage at all* and still get reimbursed by the at-fault person's insurer.
posted by mskyle at 10:19 AM on June 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was in what seemed like a small rear-end fender-bender in a compact car that was about 10 years old and ran wonderfully. The insurance company considered it a loss, as repairs would have been much higher than the value of the car. They wrote us a check, funded by the other participant.
posted by chiefthe at 10:22 AM on June 22, 2021

I was rear-ended under similar circumstances a few years ago. I was on my way to work and the lady who hit my car was extremely apologetic and owned up immediately (she was driving her sister's car and wasn't used to the brakes) and gave me her insurance information and phone number right away, so I did not call the police to file a report. It never ended up being an issue and I never needed a lawyer. Thankfully, no long-term damage to me, my other passenger, or my car (other than the bumper falling off).

I called my insurance company just to see if there was anything I needed to do, and they told me no, that because it was definitely not my fault, I didn't even need to file on my end unless her insurance company wasn't being forthcoming or helpful about the damages. I let her insurance company (well, her sister's insurance company via her insurance company—the only complication in this process) contact me and tell me what I needed to do and they were very helpful.

I didn't have to pay for anything out of pocket. I just followed the insurance representative's instructions. I picked a repair shop they had a partnership with, dropped my car off, and got picked up by Enterprise right from the repair shop so I could get my rental from them. I dimly recall some additional paperwork/phone calls since I was not the one paying for the rental car, but again, the insurance company walked me through everything I needed to do.

I kept the rental for a few days while they put the bumper back on my car and then I went back over and got my car back. I seem to recall that the repair shop sent the insurance company an estimate and the insurance company sent me a check that I then gave to the repair shop? I think if I had elected to go to a repair shop that wasn't in their network, I could have cashed the check to pay for the repairs out of pocket, but I didn't bother with that. I think I was even able to just leave the rental car at the repair shop and Enterprise went and picked it up later (they had my card on file and would have charged for any damages, I think.) It was about as smooth a process as I could have hoped for, given the circumstances.

I want to reiterate: I paid for NOTHING. The other person's insurance should be picking up the bill for your rental car, at least for the first couple of days. If they are not, I would definitely ask why.
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:01 AM on June 22, 2021

If the other driver was at fault, you shouldn't be paying anything for anything. All your costs should be on the other driver's insurance. Deductibles only apply to events that were your fault.

This is part of why you pay for your insurance. It's their job to make sure the other insurance company does everything they're supposed to.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:15 AM on June 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

First, are you in a no-fault state? Some states are such that you have to use your own insurance no matter who is at fault. In other states, you are supposed to contact the other person's insurance company directly. In still other states, your insurance company will contact the other person's insurance company on your behalf. So some of this depends on what state you were in.

Second, you can and should negotiate with the insurance company, especially if it's the other person's insurance company that you're dealing with. You can insist that they pay for the full car rental, even if their plan says they'll only pay for $40/day. You can ask them to cut you a check for the diminished value on your vehicle (your car is worth less now that it's been in an accident and they should pay you for that, although I'm not sure you'd get much on an older vehicle). You can ask them to cover the medical costs, and any days you have to take off of work (you may be very sore and unable to move a day or two after the accident even if you feel great now).

Third, sorry this happened, hope you feel okay and your car is fixed quickly!
posted by echo0720 at 6:49 PM on June 22, 2021

Response by poster: Update: I got 2 calls from an insurance company, but not hers or mine. This seemed very weird to me. I thought maybe one absorbed the other, but couldn't find anything on-line, so called my insurance company back to ask what they thought.

Oh I almost forgot -- the other driver's company also called back and said she takes full responsibility. So maybe no sociopaths this time? My company said, yes, indeed, one absorbed into the other and I don't have to talk to ANYONE, they will do all the work, and they will get me a rental and I won't pay anything.

Thanks for all your thoughts.
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock at 4:58 PM on June 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

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