Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

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flossy21
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Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by flossy21 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:26 pm

I am going to ask for the collective wisdom of the Bogleheads.

My car was parked at my work parking lot this morning in a spot with the nose pointed toward the sidewalk. This is a private parking lot for our building. Apparently another car backed into the rear bumper and pushed my car forward so that the nose was onto the sidewalk. Appears to be rear bumper damage on driver side and front damage to my car. The car is driveable and the damage is mostly cosmetic but may need a new rear bumper depending on underlying damage to the crush zone part that I can't see.

The accident was witnessed by several people in the office building on the 1st floor who came upstairs to my office to alert me. According to their eyewitness account the driver of the other car, a female, got out of the car, saw the damage, and then drove around the front of the building. She was reported to be on the cell phone at the time and seemed agitated. She pulled into a handicap spot and asked one of my co-workers for directions to another building on our road. My co-worker did not know at the time that the lady had backed into my car.

The driver of the other car then got in her car and left the scene. The witnesses in the office downstairs were able to get a photo of her car and also got the license plate number. I called the County Police and Officer "Paul" came out to the scene. He took my info and was able to track down the car that hit me in a parking lot nearby. He got her info and then came back to my office and gave me a document with her full contact info, auto info and insurance info and a police report number.

I logged into my insurer's website (Progressive) and entered a claim containing all the info above plus all the info for the other driver. I received an email with a claim number back from Progressive telling me someone would be in touch.

My questions...

1.) Is there anything else I should be doing now?

2.) Will I end up paying a deductible for these repairs since I am not at fault and was not in the car when it was hit.

3.) Any other thoughts for me?

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Rupert » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:31 pm

Instead of filing on your collision policy and letting your insurance company collect for you via subrogation, you could instead file directly on the other driver's liability policy. If you file on your policy, you may have to front your deductibles, whereas if you file on the other driver's policy you won't have to do that. You end up in the same place at the end of the day, but it may take a few months for your insurance company to reimburse you your deductibles if you choose to file on your own policy. They won't pay you until the other insurance company pays them.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:31 pm

Get names and contact information for *anyone* who witnessed this, and if possible, have them write down as soon as possible (contemporaneous, or at least "close") their report of what they saw.

And what about evidence showing any damage to the other car that would match up with damage to your car?

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by HueyLD » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:33 pm

(1) Someone from her insurance company should contact you shortly. So, be patient.

(2) No.

(3) Get your bumpers checked out and fixed.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Rupert » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:37 pm

HueyLD wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:33 pm
(1) Someone from her insurance company should contact you shortly. So, be patient.

(2) No.

(3) Get your bumpers checked out and fixed.
I would not do (3) until you've talked to the other driver's insurance company. There are some benefits to using one of the insurance company's preferred body shops; the insurance company will typically warranty the repairs if you use a preferred shop, which can come in very handy if you ever move and need to have the car re-repaired in another town. I'd want to talk to them first about that.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by HueyLD » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:39 pm

Rupert wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:37 pm
HueyLD wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:33 pm
(1) Someone from her insurance company should contact you shortly. So, be patient.

(2) No.

(3) Get your bumpers checked out and fixed.
I would not do (3) until you've talked to the other driver's insurance company. There are some benefits to using one of the insurance company's preferred body shops; the insurance company will typically warranty the repairs if you use a preferred shop, which can come in very handy if you ever move and need to have the car re-repaired in another town. I'd want to talk to them first about that.
Thanks for completing my sentence. I meant to say that the OP should get the bumpers fixed after the other insurance company contacts him.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by JBTX » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:48 pm

In theory the other drivers insurance should cover it all, and possibly will. If depends on how aggressive progressive is in pursuing it. If I had the other drivers insurance i would contact them directly.

I have been hit 3 times in the past few years. In each case i was standing dead still. One case the other driver was uninsured. In one case it was a multi car pileup on a freeway. The other case was a commercial van backed into me in an airport parking lot. The airport parking incident was the only one that the other drivers insurance paid out. I ate the deductible on the other two. GEICO did very little to investigate and pursue. It just seems like they were more content to pay for the repairs and have me eat the $1000 deductible.

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Raymond
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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Raymond » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:56 pm

I think you did fine.

You may have to front the deductible, but even if you do, your insurance company will recover it from the other driver's insurance company and reimburse you.

However, after being rear-ended last year (not my fault), my insurance company (USAA) waived my deductible, which was nice.

IMO, you pay your insurer to take care of stuff like this - in addition, you won't be subject to potential stalling tactics by the other person's insurance company (after all, they'd rather not pay you if they can get away with it).

-----

Take the people in the office downstairs out to lunch to thank them for looking out for you.

Send a snail-mail thank-you letter to the police officer's department - this will go into his personnel file. They get enough nasty-grams from disgruntled people ("Officer Paul is a meanie, he should be looking for *real* criminals instead of stopping normal citizens who were only a little bit drunk while driving"), that your letter will be a refreshing contrast :P

Send the other driver a lump of coal, postage due :twisted: (j/k)
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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by climber2020 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:00 pm

flossy21 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:26 pm
The driver of the other car then got in her car and left the scene.
Was the other driver charged with a hit & run?

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dm200
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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by dm200 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:01 pm

Especially since there is lack of responsibility on the part of the at fault driver, I would at least contact your insurance company right away. Then there is a record, even if you do not file a claim not with them.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by investor997 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:02 pm

It depends on the damage, but how much do you care about the resale value of your car?

Earlier this year I had a small fender bender that wasn't my fault. The damage wasn't too bad; just a small crease in the sheetmetal located on the drivers' side rear wheel arch. Most of the damage from the impact was absorbed by a clear plastic stone guard that protected the paint. In any event, my car is a Porsche, and used Porsches with dirty Carfax reports are avoided by potential buyers like the plague. Its resale value would have plummeted dramatically. More than anything else, I wanted my car fixed in a way such that there would be NOTHING reported to Carfax.

I spoke to a couple different body shops who were adamant the car couldn't be fixed by a paintless dent repair guy and each said the car would need re-spraying. They were both wrong; I had a mobile dent repair guy fix the car in my garage with no paintwork and for a fraction of the body shop repair quotes. The work was flawless.

The guy who hit me was a high school teenager who wasn't paying attention. I can only imagine the phone conversation he had with his parents - "YOU HIT A PORSCHE???" In any event, the father contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to settle outside of insurance such that his son's record would stay clean. I agreed and it was a win/win for both of us. He paid the dent repair guy directly, my car was fixed flawlessly with no Carfax reporting and his son's driving record didn't suffer (although I'm sure he was disciplined in other ways...).

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by downshiftme » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:35 pm

In my experience (sample size of only one) people who hit parked cars causing visible damage, then drive away leaving no contact info are hoping to get away with it. When they are caught and identified as the offending party, they may make up any story in hopes of getting off the hook and can be very manipulative and difficult to deal with. Don't expect that just because you have found the perpetrator that they will be cooperative or take responsibility for their actions. I went through endless rounds of "it wasn't me driving" and "it wasn't damaged like that" and "I don't know who had my car" and "maybe it was some other car that looks like mine" when it was very clear from eyewitness reports exactly what happened, exactly which car (with license number) and exactly who was driving. Even when you think it is settled, beware that the lies can start again anytime.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by flossy21 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:44 pm

**Update** 10/04/2017 2:30 pm

I'm the OP. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I really do appreciate the various perspectives on this thing.

I have not heard from my insurance company other than an email acknowledgement of the claim I submitted online.

I had a voice mail from the at fault driver's insurance company, USAA, referencing a USAA claim number and asking me to call them back so they can get my vehicle info and my "recorded statement of how the accident occurred."

I don't plan to call USAA back until I hear from my insurance company.

I have no idea how USAA knows there is an issue unless the other driver reported it or maybe Progressive reported it to USAA.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by dm200 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:58 pm

flossy21 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:44 pm
**Update** 10/04/2017 2:30 pm
I'm the OP. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I really do appreciate the various perspectives on this thing.
I have not heard from my insurance company other than an email acknowledgement of the claim I submitted online.
I had a voice mail from the at fault driver's insurance company, USAA, referencing a USAA claim number and asking me to call them back so they can get my vehicle info and my "recorded statement of how the accident occurred."
I don't plan to call USAA back until I hear from my insurance company.
I have no idea how USAA knows there is an issue unless the other driver reported it or maybe Progressive reported it to USAA.
I think I would call USAA back right away and get your story/version on record right away. It seems to me that the sooner you get your story on the record, the better your credibility.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by HueyLD » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:12 pm

flossy21 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:44 pm
**Update** 10/04/2017 2:30 pm

I'm the OP. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I really do appreciate the various perspectives on this thing.

I have not heard from my insurance company other than an email acknowledgement of the claim I submitted online.

I had a voice mail from the at fault driver's insurance company, USAA, referencing a USAA claim number and asking me to call them back so they can get my vehicle info and my "recorded statement of how the accident occurred."

I don't plan to call USAA back until I hear from my insurance company.

I have no idea how USAA knows there is an issue unless the other driver reported it or maybe Progressive reported it to USAA.
Yes, your ins co informed the USAA and you should call the USAA adjuster right away to get the ball rolling.

You will be dealing with the USAA adjustor from now on. They may offer to either fix your car, or a sum of cash for you to fix your car.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Rupert » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:14 pm

flossy21 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:44 pm
**Update** 10/04/2017 2:30 pm

I'm the OP. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I really do appreciate the various perspectives on this thing.

I have not heard from my insurance company other than an email acknowledgement of the claim I submitted online.

I had a voice mail from the at fault driver's insurance company, USAA, referencing a USAA claim number and asking me to call them back so they can get my vehicle info and my "recorded statement of how the accident occurred."

I don't plan to call USAA back until I hear from my insurance company.

I have no idea how USAA knows there is an issue unless the other driver reported it or maybe Progressive reported it to USAA.
Your insurance company is not going to help you with that interview. They're going to tell you to speak to USAA. USAA isn't going to pay anyone, including your insurance company, until you do. Just be very factual when you speak to them, i.e., don't speculate and don't repeat speculation you heard from anyone else. They will be recording you. And, yes, the other driver has likely filed a collision claim on her policy. This is actually good news for you because it may mean she's admitted fault. (I doubt your insurance company would contact the other insurance company before contacting you. They'd want to know whether you're even filing on your collision policy. If you aren't, they can't (have no legal right to) collect from the other company. So there's just no way they would contact the other company before speaking to you. Typically, they would completely settle your collision claim before even transferring the claim to subrogation, which is the department that would deal with the other insurance company.)

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:27 pm

I think you should have some fun with the conversation with the perpetrator's insurance company and your statement. Could go something like this:

My car was legally parked, turned off, in park with the parking brake set. Your perpetrator was backing up but mostly paying attention to her phone conversation. Your perpetrator then smashed into my car, tossing it onto the sidewalk damaging the bumper and probably the front suspension of the car, but I haven't had that checked out yet. Your perpetrator then got out of the car, never taking the phone away from her ear, then quickly sped away to the other side of the building where one of my co-workers reported that she stopped, all confused or otherwise impaired and asked for an escape route to leave the site of my building.

I'm sure that would be fun for everyone and would get you an appraiser pretty soon and a check not long from now.

Decide for yourself if you want to fix your car or not. You don't have to if you don't want to. My son was recently driven into (car coming out of a parking lot couldn't see traffic so just decided to go boldly forward....into the rear door of my car). Other driver 100% at fault and both insurance companies came to the same conclusion. The car's worth maybe $4000 and the check was for about $1800. I banged out the door, reattached the plastic body panels and he'll have the car at college for the next couple years.
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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:55 pm

climber2020 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:00 pm
Was the other driver charged with a hit & run?
Years ago, I got hit in a parking lot and the woman left. The police said that it wasn't illegal unless it was on the public street. They gave us the information from the license plate.
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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:56 pm

If for some reason your insurance doesn't recover the deductible, you can still sue her in small claims. Usual caveats there.
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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:01 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:55 pm
climber2020 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:00 pm
Was the other driver charged with a hit & run?
Years ago, I got hit in a parking lot and the woman left. The police said that it wasn't illegal unless it was on the public street. They gave us the information from the license plate.
Maybe it wasn't a "traffic violation" in a parking lot, but I doubt it was "legal" (the opposite of "illegal").

One can't just go around bashing other people's property with impunity because it's not on a public street.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Rupert » Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:04 pm

Just occurred to me: Another thing for you to check is whether your state allows you to file a claim for the diminished value of your car. Google it; there are websites devoted to how to make DV claims. That's a claim that you would have to file directly with the other insurer. Collision policies typically don't cover it, and so your insurer can't collect it for you via subrogation. (Your insurer can only collect for you through subrogation monies that it pays you/owes you under your own own policy).

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:10 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:01 pm
Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:55 pm
climber2020 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:00 pm
Was the other driver charged with a hit & run?
Years ago, I got hit in a parking lot and the woman left. The police said that it wasn't illegal unless it was on the public street. They gave us the information from the license plate.
Maybe it wasn't a "traffic violation" in a parking lot, but I doubt it was "legal" (the opposite of "illegal").

One can't just go around bashing other people's property with impunity because it's not on a public street.
It was a civil matter. Not a criminal one. If I spill coffee on you, is that illegal? I doubt it. You could still recover damages.

They actually paid up once they found out that their daughter, the driver, was not going to be arrested. Initially they denied that they owned they owned that vehicle.
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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by TnGuy » Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:22 pm

Rupert wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:04 pm
Just occurred to me: Another thing for you to check is whether your state allows you to file a claim for the diminished value of your car....
You definitely want to file a diminished value claim, as Rupert has stated. Whenever you go to sell/trade-in this car it is going to show on all records as having been in an accident. This can turn many potential buyers away. And, on a trade-in you will be guaranteed to be offered less money for the vehicle - hence the 'diminished value'. So, you need to get compensated today for that future 'loss'.


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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by JBTX » Wed Oct 04, 2017 10:47 pm

Rupert wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:14 pm
flossy21 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:44 pm
**Update** 10/04/2017 2:30 pm

I'm the OP. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I really do appreciate the various perspectives on this thing.

I have not heard from my insurance company other than an email acknowledgement of the claim I submitted online.

I had a voice mail from the at fault driver's insurance company, USAA, referencing a USAA claim number and asking me to call them back so they can get my vehicle info and my "recorded statement of how the accident occurred."

I don't plan to call USAA back until I hear from my insurance company.

I have no idea how USAA knows there is an issue unless the other driver reported it or maybe Progressive reported it to USAA.
Your insurance company is not going to help you with that interview. They're going to tell you to speak to USAA. USAA isn't going to pay anyone, including your insurance company, until you do. Just be very factual when you speak to them, i.e., don't speculate and don't repeat speculation you heard from anyone else. They will be recording you. And, yes, the other driver has likely filed a collision claim on her policy. This is actually good news for you because it may mean she's admitted fault. (I doubt your insurance company would contact the other insurance company before contacting you. They'd want to know whether you're even filing on your collision policy. If you aren't, they can't (have no legal right to) collect from the other company. So there's just no way they would contact the other company before speaking to you. Typically, they would completely settle your collision claim before even transferring the claim to subrogation, which is the department that would deal with the other insurance company.)
Agree. I went through this on one of my claims, and they actually caught me on an inconsistency (from recording) of what I said when I called back later. It wasn't deliberate, it was just me trying to remember whether or not the sequence of "bumps" in a multi-car pileup, which would indicate whether the guy behind me hit me first, or he was hit first into me, and my recollection was not exactly the same, because it happened so fast I just wasn't sure. The net result was they wouldn't pay because there was no definitive proof that the guy who hit me hit me first, and the guy who hit me said he was hit from behind first - which may or may not have been true, but I suspect was a lie.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by flossy21 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:05 am

****Update*** - 10/05/2017 at 9 am

I received a call from my insurance company yesterday around 4:30 pm. I returned the call but it was after hours so I left a v/m for the fellow who called me with my claim number and asked him to call me back today.

I have not returned the call to the other driver's insurance company. I don't plan to do so unless my insurance company tells me it is OK to do so.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by takeshi » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:14 am

flossy21 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:26 pm
Will I end up paying a deductible for these repairs since I am not at fault and was not in the car when it was hit.
I just went through dealing with an accident where the other driver was at fault but I went through my own insurance company. As others have stated, one can file a claim with the other party's insurance but dealing my company, USAA, is a lot better than dealing with other insurance companies in my experience. The specifics of the accident and the police report citing the other driver for fault made me fairly confident that their insurance company would eventually be paying in the end. My vehicle could not be driven so USAA was able to get me into a rental the same day. It also allowed for things to get rolling without having to wait on the other insurance company. I have directly filed in the past but that has left me responsible for rentals if needed until the other party accepts responsbility.

You will be responsible for your deductible until the 2 insurance companies go through subrogration to get things sorted out. In my case, my vehicle was declared a total loss and the payout was for the determined amount minus deductible. When subrogration was completed and the other party was determined responsible, I received another payment for the deductible.

It will probably be a bit different for you since your vehicle probably will not be declared a total loss from what you've described but the situation with the deductible will be the same. As stated above, if you had filed with the other's insurance, you wouldn't be subject to your deductible.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by lthenderson » Thu Oct 05, 2017 10:32 am

flossy21 wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:44 pm
I had a voice mail from the at fault driver's insurance company, USAA, referencing a USAA claim number and asking me to call them back so they can get my vehicle info and my "recorded statement of how the accident occurred."
Like others said, you will have to call them and have a recorded conversation. Be mindful that they are looking for a way to find negligence on your part so they don't have to pay any or as much. I had that bite me in the butt once when I ended up being 20% at fault for a accident that occurred when someone ran a red stop light and smacked me nearly head on. I mentioned that I hadn't looked for oncoming traffic turning in front of me because I assumed they would stop and I did look left and right. Definitely don't sign any settlement until you have spoken with your insurance agent. In the case mentioned above, I suffered whiplash and the other person's insurance company was quick to offer a "pain and suffering" settlement if I just signed on the dotted line. I waited for three months until I was sure I was healed and all the bills had been paid by them (on advice of my insurance company) before I signed on that dotted line and cashed the check.

Back to your question 2 above, there are two reasons why you may have to pay for your deductible. Reason one is if you want to get the repair done before a settlement check is sent to you. I have had to do this before but generally you will get your deductible back in the settlement check. Unless you live in a no-fault state which is the second reason you may have to pay your deductible. Some states are no-fault states meaning each person's insurance takes care of their damage regardless of who was at fault in the accident. I lived in one of these states for a time and car insurance in those states was many times more expensive than most states which assign fault.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by flossy21 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:42 pm

***update 10/05/2017 3:20 pm

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. The group has certainly been helpful.

I spoke to a fellow at my insurance company; Progressive. He connected us both to the claim rep for the at-fault driver on a 3 way call. I explained the situation in very carefully chosen language and was careful to only state the facts. The at-fault driver had already notified USAA and admitted that is was her fault so they had already started a record for the incident. My insurance rep asked several times if USAA was "prepared to accept liability". The USAA rep finally replied that USAA would accept liability.

The USAA rep wants me to get an estimate and come back to them once that is done. I have not asked about diminished value yet but I may. The car is a bit of a rare bird (1999 2.8L BMW Z3 Roadster "British Traditional" Edition which was a limited run) with low miles (<60k) but not insanely valuable. I'm not sure how much this incident would diminish the value but I live in a state that recognizes this so USAA may make an offer. I think I'll ask USAA about that once I get an estimate from the body shop.

As an interesting aside:
The at-fault driver did not tell USAA that she fled the scene and had to be tracked down by the local PD to get her info. I shared this fact with the rep and also gave USAA the police report number so they can get the official police report.

I found both USAA and Progressive to be professional and helpful during our conversations.

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Re: Fender bender -- other driver at fault -- what to do?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:46 pm

With an older car, you might need to establish value. A danger can be that they try to total it at a low value.
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