Auto Accident Advice

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Dogleheabs
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Auto Accident Advice

Post by Dogleheabs » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:30 pm

My wife rear-ended someone today on her way to work. Thankfully there are no injuries and minor damages to the other person's vehicle (let's call him Mr. A). My wife drives a car and Mr. A drives a SUV. Apparently, there is no damage to Mr. A's bumper, the trailer hitch receiver took the brunt of the impact. However, Mr. A did have one of those aftermarket brake lights that you can insert into the hitch receiver. Mr. A got an estimate and said that it is only around $200 in damage and is willing to settle outside of insurance. I am very tempted to do so, but I know insurance policies say you need to report "everything." Personally, I think that is insurance companies throwing their weight around.

My questions are:
1) Have you every settled a minor accident outside of insurance? Care to share your experience?
2) Would you settle outside in this case?
3) If I do report it to the insurance company, how much do you think they would raise my rates? My policy says something about >$750 being a chargeable accident but I don't know what that means exactly.

I am not trying to break any laws. Just trying to figure out my options. Thanks for the feedback.
-heabs

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Dogleheabs
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Dogleheabs » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:59 pm

Any advice? I hope to make a decision soon.
-heabs

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:07 pm

Give Mr. A the cash and have him sign a receipt saying he accepted the cash from you as full payment for damages made to his car. You keep the original, and you give him a copy of the receipt for his records. If he isn't reporting it and you are okay with that, then this is a private transaction between you and Mr. A. end of story.
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kenner
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by kenner » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:13 pm

Impossible to accurately answer without knowing applicable state law and the exact wording of your insurance policy, but a good guess would be this: pay the damages yourself and have the other party sign a full and final release of any and all claims arising from the accident.

You can probably find samples of such release forms online.

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rkuklinski
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by rkuklinski » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:00 pm

I would be cautious about settling outside of your policy. Best case scenario you give him the 200 and everyone is happy. An alternative is they begin to fix it and find additional hidden damage and come back for more money. How do you verify the additional money is justified? What if they decide to claim an injury? lost wages? etc. The plus of not telling the insurance company should be weighed against the plus of not having to manage this on an ongoing basis.

My .02.
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bottlecap
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by bottlecap » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:22 pm

If you do get the other party to sign something make sure it releases you for all damages, not just property damages.

This can be done, but you are likely giving up any insurance coverage by not notifying your insurance company should the other party change their mind. That is the danger in settling yourself (and without legal representation).

JT

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by kenner » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:38 pm

bottlecap wrote:If you do get the other party to sign something make sure it releases you for all damages, not just property damages

JT
I'm quite sure that's why I mentioned that OP would be well-advised to obtain a release for "any and all claims arising from the accident".

Would legal representation be ideal, sure. But it definitely seems unnecessary in this case. Ostensibly, OP has had an opportunity to assess the character of the person who's car was rear-ended. Not everyone is out to "game the system".

As for OP's position, we don't know whether his insurance premium would go up zero or $200 per year as a result of this seemingly minor incident.

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Dogleheabs
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Dogleheabs » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:55 pm

Thank you all for the responses. I did some research and am drafting up a release of all claims form based on the following: http://freelegalforms.uslegal.com/relea ... nt-claims/

I am considering offering $250. He is being reasonable so I thought I would be too and throw in some more money for the nuisance it caused him.

Is the notarization beneficial? I am considering having Mr. A sign without a notary.
kenner wrote:
bottlecap wrote:If you do get the other party to sign something make sure it releases you for all damages, not just property damages

JT
I'm quite sure that's why I mentioned that OP would be well-advised to obtain a release for "any and all claims arising from the accident".

Would legal representation be ideal, sure. But it definitely seems unnecessary in this case. Ostensibly, OP has had an opportunity to assess the character of the person who's car was rear-ended. Not everyone is out to "game the system".
Duly noted. I have not had any interaction with Mr. A but my wife believes that he is an honest person. He told her that he's been a similar situation before (being at-fault) and wants to get it resolved as easily as possible.
-heabs

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by ccieemeritus » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:17 pm

I like the $250 idea. Even if there is an accident there's no requirement to file a claim.

There are requirements for accident reports to the dmv if there's an injury or damage is above $x. $x varies from state to state. If $x is $250 then settle for $249. I'd personally forget about notarization but get a receipt.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by bottlecap » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:18 pm

kenner wrote:
bottlecap wrote:If you do get the other party to sign something make sure it releases you for all damages, not just property damages

JT
I'm quite sure that's why I mentioned that OP would be well-advised to obtain a release for "any and all claims arising from the accident".
It's a good thing you're quite sure about yourself... LOL! Seriously, lighten up - not everything is about you. Another poster mentioned damages specifically to the car, which I'm sure was just an oversight.

My post was largely an attempt to clarify what the possible consequences of not having a well drafted release and not telling insurance company. I might even handle something like this in this manner myself, but we would be remiss in not letting the OP know that if things are not done right, two weeks from now, should the other driver have ill effects, he could wind up in court on his own.

JT

kenner
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by kenner » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:44 pm

Again,

I believe that it is impossible for anyone to provide definitive information based on limited information.

But I do have one thought for you. Online, I saw the same sample release that you posted. My gut reaction is that it way too scary, way too too technical, and might be offensive to Mr. A. Use your own ingenuity, toning down the scary parts of this Release, making it simpler.

Again, I do not know what state you are in, but 49 of the US states have laws that have been adopted from English common law (Louisiana law is adopted from French/Napoleonic law) and all you may need is proof of payment and a signed release from the other party/parties (is the wife a co-owner of the damaged vehicle?) that they acknowledge payment from you and release you and your wife from any and all claims.

That would work in my state, don't know for sure about your state, whatever that may be.

Best wishes,

Ken

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by kenner » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:56 pm

bottlecap wrote:
kenner wrote:
bottlecap wrote:If you do get the other party to sign something make sure it releases you for all damages, not just property damages

JT
I'm quite sure that's why I mentioned that OP would be well-advised to obtain a release for "any and all claims arising from the accident".
It's a good thing you're quite sure about yourself... LOL! Seriously, lighten up - not everything is about you. Another poster mentioned damages specifically to the car, which I'm sure was just an oversight.

My post was largely an attempt to clarify what the possible consequences of not having a well drafted release and not telling insurance company. I might even handle something like this in this manner myself, but we would be remiss in not letting the OP know that if things are not done right, two weeks from now, should the other driver have ill effects, he could wind up in court on his own.

JT
I don't think I said that I'm sure about myself, but I am sure about certain aspects of Florida law. I have been to Tennessee. My Mom and Dad used to live there. TN is law is different from FL law.

I agree that, ideally, anyone in OP's position would be well-advised to let his insurance company handle this matter. But individuals have a right to decide what they believe is in their own best long-term interests.

Is there something in Tennessee law that says a release of all claims, agreed to by the parties, is not a release of all claims?
Last edited by kenner on Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by JonnyDVM » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:01 pm

Give him the $200 or $250 if you wish and if it were me I wouldn't throw a convoluted waiver in his face. Be glad he didn't get out if the car clutching his neck and just wants money to replace his broken light. There are still a few decent people left in this world. I wouldn't involve the insurance company at all but I can't see a negative in calling them to report to them that your wife had a minor fender bender and it looks like you won't be filing a claim. I don't think they raise rates unless you actually file a claim.
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by pjstack » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:15 am

This molehill is well on its way to being a mountain!!

Let me get this straight: you run into me and you want me to sign a "release"?

Suppose I tell you to put your release where the sun don't shine and demand you fork over your insurance information? (I imagine your deductible is greater than $200.) Now you have an accident claim on your record.

The guy is willing to settle for $200, so count yourself lucky. But, go ahead and provoke him if you want to.
pjstack

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bottlecap
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by bottlecap » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:10 am

kenner wrote:Is there something in Tennessee law that says a release of all claims, agreed to by the parties, is not a release of all claims?
Once again, I was not originally referring to your post. However, now that you mention it, not everyone knows what is mean't by "all claims," so simply stating that might not be enough for this poster. There's no way to know what his understanding is. Does "all claims" alert him to the fact that his heirs might have a claim, should he drop dead tweeks after the release is signed?

While these are all low probability events, the fact remains that he could still wind up in court, even with a release, should the other party change his mind. He may win, but at that point he will likely be on his own and paying for his own lawyer. He ought to know that.

JT

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by kenner » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:51 am

Although I do not agree with your contention that people do not comprehend what is meant by the concept of "release of all claims". I would at least argue that most people would understand what is meant by "a release of all claims, including property damage and personal injury, arising from the automobile accident of X date involving the parties to this settlement."

Frankly, I have settled thousands of auto accident claims over the last 40 years. Not one settlement has back-fired.

Maybe Tennessee, and you, live in a different world. Give other people some credit, they are not stupid.

I am pretty sure that even people who did not go to law school know what is meant by the phrase "release of all claims".
Last edited by kenner on Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:14 am

pjstack wrote:This molehill is well on its way to being a mountain!!

Let me get this straight: you run into me and you want me to sign a "release"?

Suppose I tell you to put your release where the sun don't shine and demand you fork over your insurance information? (I imagine your deductible is greater than $200.) Now you have an accident claim on your record.

The guy is willing to settle for $200, so count yourself lucky. But, go ahead and provoke him if you want to.


Let's see what happens in the insurance route.

Insurance comes and looks at the SUV. They note that the light came from Wal*Mart and cost $18.57. They cut you a check for $18.57 for the light and 1/10 hour installation at $10. Your choice is to sign the check (which has the waiver printed on the back where you sign) or fix it yourself.

If the SUV driver had gotten out clutching his neck and that was the end of it, with no doctor bills, he'd take nothing on any medical claim anyways. Sure...he could potentially sue, but what would happen in court? The judge would ask for medical bills, which he would have none.

I see on issue with asking the SUV driver to sign a waiver of any and all claims resulting from this incident. Heck....I was once rear ended in an MG Midget. Car was fine but I somehow hit the steering wheel and scratched my glasses lens. The driver behind me offered $50. I took the $50 and we both drove away.
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bottlecap
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by bottlecap » Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:37 am

kenner wrote:Although I do not agree with your contention that people do not comprehend what is meant by the concept of "release of all claims". I would at least argue that most people would understand what is meant by "a release of all claims, including property damage and personal injury, arising from the automobile accident of X date involving the parties to this settlement."

Frankly, I have settled thousands of auto accident claims over the last 40 years. Not one settlement has back-fired.

Maybe Tennessee, and you, live in a different world. Give other people some credit, they are not stupid.
I'm not saying that the OP is stupid. I'm suggesting that when someone practices law for 40 years, they sometimes assume that everyone else knows the legal import of the terms they use and, in this case, the possible situations they may unwittingly find themselves in should things go wrong. I think pointing out those possibilities so that the person has full knowledge before taking an action that cannot be undone provides value. If you disagree, then I guess we'll have to disagree.

I'm not sure the fact that I live in Tennessee is of any import. I'd think if someone came to an attorney in Tennessee or Florida or any state and asked, "What happens if I don't report this to the insurance company?", that the lawyer would advise them as to the possibilities.

JT

P.S. I did not intend to offend you and really don't think anything I pointed out conflicts with the legal advice you provided the poster.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by deanbrew » Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:54 am

pjstack wrote:This molehill is well on its way to being a mountain!!

Let me get this straight: you run into me and you want me to sign a "release"?

Suppose I tell you to put your release where the sun don't shine and demand you fork over your insurance information? (I imagine your deductible is greater than $200.) Now you have an accident claim on your record.

The guy is willing to settle for $200, so count yourself lucky. But, go ahead and provoke him if you want to.
That was my thought as well. It's only the hitch and aftermarket brake light. Don't antagonize someone who is willing to make things easy. Heck, give the guy an extra $100 so he feels good about the whole thing. Or give him $200 in cash plus a $100 gift card to a nice local restaurant so he can splurge with his wife.

I don't see any indication of damage to the OP's car. If her front end hit a tow hitch, isn't there damage to the front of the OP's car?
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by abuss368 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:02 am

rkuklinski wrote:I would be cautious about settling outside of your policy. Best case scenario you give him the 200 and everyone is happy. An alternative is they begin to fix it and find additional hidden damage and come back for more money. How do you verify the additional money is justified? What if they decide to claim an injury? lost wages? etc. The plus of not telling the insurance company should be weighed against the plus of not having to manage this on an ongoing basis.

My .02.
This was my initial thought as well. Is there any additional damage under the bumper that is not visible to the eye? What if they decide to file a claim and you already started a "settlement" process outside of your insurance company? Will they refuse to represent you? I would consider contacting insurance.
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by kenner » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:03 am

bottlecap wrote:
kenner wrote:Although I do not agree with your contention that people do not comprehend what is meant by the concept of "release of all claims". I would at least argue that most people would understand what is meant by "a release of all claims, including property damage and personal injury, arising from the automobile accident of X date involving the parties to this settlement."

Frankly, I have settled thousands of auto accident claims over the last 40 years. Not one settlement has back-fired.

Maybe Tennessee, and you, live in a different world. Give other people some credit, they are not stupid.
I'm not saying that the OP is stupid. I'm suggesting that when someone practices law for 40 years, they sometimes assume that everyone else knows the legal import of the terms they use and, in this case, the possible situations they may unwittingly find themselves in should things go wrong. I think pointing out those possibilities so that the person has full knowledge before taking an action that cannot be undone provides value. If you disagree, then I guess we'll have to disagree.

I'm not sure the fact that I live in Tennessee is of any import. I'd think if someone came to an attorney in Tennessee or Florida or any state and asked, "What happens if I don't report this to the insurance company?", that the lawyer would advise them as to the possibilities.

JT

P.S. I did not intend to offend you and really don't think anything I pointed out conflicts with the legal advice you provided the poster.
Bottlecap,

Thank you for your message. And best wishes to you and yours.

I certainly agree that every client deserves 100% of the information that is needed to make an informed decision in his or her case.

BTW, although I am a Gator (Emmitt Smith and Tim Tebow are among my all-time favorites), I am also a huge fan of Tennessee Vol Peyton Manning, who I think may the the classiest athlete in the world.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by bottlecap » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:32 am

kenner wrote:BTW, although I am a Gator (Emmitt Smith and Tim Tebow are among my all-time favorites), I am also a huge fan of Tennessee Vol Peyton Manning, who I think may the the classiest athlete in the world.
Thanks, Kenner. Although I root for the "other team" in Tennessee (no offense to Tigers or Blue Raiders fans), I have a hard time not admiring Manning (and the Gators you mention for that matter). In addition to my sympathies as an SEC fan, I have family in Florida who are Gators fans, so I usually pull for them 11 games out of the year. But you're on your own on November 8th this year...

JT

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Dogleheabs
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Dogleheabs » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:26 am

After a thought-filled night, we decided to go through insurance. I will update this thread with my thoughts later. I hope this thread can be of some anecdotal help to others in the future.
-heabs

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by kenner » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:57 am

Dogleheabs wrote:After a thought-filled night, we decided to go through insurance. I will update this thread with my thoughts later. I hope this thread can be of some anecdotal help to others in the future.
Without doubt, your post has been helpful to others. Moreover, I applaud your final decision.

Best wishes,

Ken

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by feh » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:56 pm

Dogleheabs wrote:After a thought-filled night, we decided to go through insurance. I will update this thread with my thoughts later. I hope this thread can be of some anecdotal help to others in the future.
Glad to hear it. I think that was a wise decision.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by deanbrew » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:00 pm

Dogleheabs wrote:After a thought-filled night, we decided to go through insurance. I will update this thread with my thoughts later. I hope this thread can be of some anecdotal help to others in the future.
Please remember to stop back and update us on how you are treated by your insurance company, if your premium increases due to the notification and if this "claim" makes it harder to shop for insurance. Note that I am not suggesting negative results will occur, but there are certainly possibilities.
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by grabiner » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:34 pm

deanbrew wrote:
Dogleheabs wrote:After a thought-filled night, we decided to go through insurance. I will update this thread with my thoughts later. I hope this thread can be of some anecdotal help to others in the future.
Please remember to stop back and update us on how you are treated by your insurance company, if your premium increases due to the notification and if this "claim" makes it harder to shop for insurance. Note that I am not suggesting negative results will occur, but there are certainly possibilities.
And check the terms of your policy. Many policies will say which accidents are charged; an accident in which the total claim is less than $X and nobody is injured does not increase your rates.
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by abuss368 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:36 pm

I am interested to here how the insurance company will respond. Please stop back and provide an update.
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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Quasimodo » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:28 pm

When I asked GEICO, they said they wanted to be notified in the case of an accident. The policy says in part:

"...the contract states that as soon as you can after an accident, we must be notified.
 
...we want to be notified so that we can cover your incident in the event that the other party decides to contact us in the future."

Personally, I would prefer the insurance company negotiate a settlement. That's what I'm paying them to do. They're going to be better at it than me. And who knows whether someone will come back later and claim serious bodily injury?

So I agree with those who advocate notifying the insurance company, even if it looks like a minor loss. I don't care if they raise my premium.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Dogleheabs » Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:31 pm

So the claims process has begun. My wife called Mr. A and let him know that we would be moving forward with insurance. Turns out he is from a small town in the same part of the state that my wife grew up in... If there ever was a situation to settle outside of insurance, this was probably it. There still are decent people in the world. The tough part is determining that, especially so quickly.

At the end of the day this is what insurance is for, peace of mind. If we did try to settle outside, the possibility of this escalating would have lingered in the back of my mind. I'll try to remember to post an update with any changes in rates.

I always try to learn from situations and this got me thinking about umbrella insurance. I've got some research to do now.

I appreciate all of your comments. There were positives and negatives to both options and your feedback helped me weigh those options and make a decision.
-heabs

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by kenner » Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:57 am

bottlecap wrote:
kenner wrote:BTW, although I am a Gator (Emmitt Smith and Tim Tebow are among my all-time favorites), I am also a huge fan of Tennessee Vol Peyton Manning, who I think may the the classiest athlete in the world.
Thanks, Kenner. Although I root for the "other team" in Tennessee (no offense to Tigers or Blue Raiders fans), I have a hard time not admiring Manning (and the Gators you mention for that matter). In addition to my sympathies as an SEC fan, I have family in Florida who are Gators fans, so I usually pull for them 11 games out of the year. But you're on your own on November 8th this year...

JT
Let the new game(s) begin.

My beloved Gators seem to have crashed last night.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by ramsfan » Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:58 am

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:Give Mr. A the cash and have him sign a receipt saying he accepted the cash from you as full payment for damages made to his car. You keep the original, and you give him a copy of the receipt for his records. If he isn't reporting it and you are okay with that, then this is a private transaction between you and Mr. A. end of story.
+1

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Dogleheabs » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:36 pm

Our policy renewed recently and the premium did not go up due to the claim. I am not sure for what amount it was settled. Thank you all for the insight you provided. I definitely learned some lessons.
-heabs

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by BolderBoy » Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:12 pm

Dogleheabs wrote:Any advice? I hope to make a decision soon.
I was hit by a guy once. He accepted responsibility on the spot and said he would have the car fixed. I delivered the car to the shop he wanted to do the work (I wasn't picky) - he had already called them to arrange payment - and I picked the car up a few days later.

No muss no fuss. This was in a rural community.

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Re: Auto Accident Advice

Post by Robert44 » Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:22 pm

Pay him the $200 or $250 and DO NOT call insurance. Sounds like you are fortunate someone you hit is very sensible and has dealt with the notorious insurance companies.
Two accidents in two years (neither one our fault). True nightmare stories from the insurance companies.

Once I backed into a car and did $700 damage. Reported it to insurance and they raised my insurance $1000 a year for 3 years. Unless it is a devastating accident, insurance is the biggest rip off there is.
Look at all their stock prices. They do very well.

Insurance is a necessary evil. Just hope you never need it.

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