Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Tom asks: This answer to this question is largely academic because I already chose to do one of the two options I’m about to ask you about. In a nutshell I got into a fender bender or got my fender bent. It was actually more the rear quarter panel but anyhow. The person who hit me – this was in a parking lot, backing out of a parking spot – was very flustered and seemed like a nice person. She was very worried about her insurance company raising her rates and asked whether she could just pay me directly and not get the insurance company involved. What would you do in this situation?
My reply: There are variables here, including personal ones. I personally would have probably been ok with this, if it were my old truck – what’s another dent? – and the dent wasn’t much and I knew I’d be okay with getting stiffed. Like loaning money to a friend. I never do it unless I know I can deal with the loss of the money (and the friend!)
But, if the damage is potentially more than superficial (i.e., behind the bent metal) which is likely if the impact is more than very minor, I’d want the insurance to handle it as what might appear to be a $200 dent could prove to be a $1,000 new quarter panel. And I don’t think it’s a good idea to get into a situation where you’re haggling with the owner of the other car – the person who hit yours – over a higher-than-you-both-expected repair bill. Much as I dislike the insurance mafia – mainly because it is a mafia – this is what you’re being forced to pay for.
Might as well get something for your money.
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