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“He said that because he was driving his friend’s car, his insurance won’t cover the damage to my car.”

by Prince Of Petworth May 31, 2017 at 2:45 pm 45 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user Maggie Koziol

“Dear PoPville,

A few weeks ago as I was driving on I-66 in Rosslyn, a truck changed lanes in to my car. Fortunately no one was hurt and the damage was limited to a broken rear view mirror and dent on the front panel of the car above the wheel well (both on the driver’s side). The other driver was clearly at fault and it was late at night so we exchanged contact information and I took a photo of his driver’s license. I also photographed the damage to my car at the scene. The other driver was nice enough about it, and he mentioned that it was his friend’s car (which will be relevant in a second).

A few days later, I got a quote from my local dealership for the repair work, which came in around $900. Today, I contacted him about the damage to see how he wants to handle it. He said that because he was driving his friend’s car, his insurance won’t cover the damage to my car.

He suggested that I bring my car to the repair shop where he works and he’ll take care of the damage at no cost. I googled the auto body shop, and can’t find more than a Facebook page, and a review-less page on Yelp. The shop itself does not have its own page. The three Facebook reviews include only one with any description, and in further googling, it looks like the reviewer is the owner of a second-hand luxury dealer that appears to be connected to the auto body shop in some capacity. The whole thing seems sketchy to me. What should I do? What questions so I ask of the auto shop to make sure the work will be insured/guaranteed, or that I have some assurance that he won’t do the bare minimum to get me to stop bugging him?”

  • Anon

    Now you contact insurance. You got his insurance info, right? He has clearly shown he is not acting in good faith.

    • ah

      +1. Just report to your insurance, and let them sort it out. You don’t want to deal with any dodgy shop.

  • saf

    Call your insurance company now.

  • Driver

    Get your repairs handled at the shop of your choice. Send him the bill. Either he is covered by his policy or his friends. Not that it matters — you’ve got a tort, he is liable. The easy way out would be to file your own claim and let your insurance company deal with him.

  • HaileUnlikely

    The entity that should cover the damage is the insurer of actual crash-involved vehicle (the “friend” who was not involved the crash), not some other insurance company that might have written a policy for some other vehicle that the driver who hit you might also own. The “friend” who owns the truck and/or his insurance company might then elect to go after the driver to recover their losses, but the insurance company that this driver has insurance with for some other vehicle not involved in the crash doesn’t have anything to do with anything.

  • Formerly ParkViewRes

    Was the driver licensed/insured in Virginia? If so, I always understood the friend would be covered under the owner’s insurance. Car insurance follows the vehicle.

    • Anon

      My girlfriend was driving my car once because I had a migraine and couldn’t drive, and another car rear ended us. It was just a tap and we didn’t see any damage to either vehicle but got each other’s names and insurance info just in case (we were all licensed and insured in VA). A couple weeks later my insurance contacted me to say my rates were going to double because the other guy contacted them about the accident (how my girlfriend was determined to be at fault I have no clue, but I was ultimately the one that had to pay for the incident). The other car was insured under someone else’s name as well so I guess the guy was also driving someone else’s car.

      • Formerly ParkViewRes

        Your rates doubled from an accident with no damage? Umm, who were you insured by? I had 3 accidents within 1.5 years in college and my insurance never even went up a dollar.

        • Anon

          Geico. They truly are the worst. That was the first and only accident a car I’ve owned has been involved in, so I don’t have much experience with claims, but I agree that the way they handled it was totally effed up and they lost a good customer because of it.

          • Rich

            The cheaper companies (initially) like Geico and Nationwide are notorious for this and have been for decades.

          • Anon NS

            I have geico. I had a minor accident – blatantly my fault (embarrassingly, foot slipped on break peddle and I slow-speed head-on collisioned an occupied car in my own apartment parking garage.) Damage to my car and another car – both Lexuses (I know, cry me a river). My first accident ever – at age 37.
            .
            Anyway, my point: I fretted about turning into insurance, for sure my life was ruined and I’d pay for it forever. I finally decided to turn into insurance. Result: huge nothing burger. Rates barely changed. I just want people to hear so they don’t have fear of insurance like I did!

          • eggs

            That’s crazy to me, we’ve been insured with Geico in VA for years and have had accidents, one was our fault and one wasn’t, and our rates haven’t gone up once. I would have contested that for sure, especially because getting rear ended *should* always be attributed to the person doing the rear ending unless the police and/or a court determine otherwise.

          • caphill324

            I never had that issue with Nationwide and I was insured with them for over 20 years. When I moved to Capitol Hill they were double Progressive so I switched. But I had filed claims for incidents that were not my fault and never had my rates raised.

      • anonymouse_dianne

        yeah, I totaled 2 cars in 3 years – the other person’s fault and a vehicle fire – and State Farm didn’t raise my rates EVER.

        • Anon

          Daymn.

  • anon

    First choice – get the friend’s policy and file a claim with that company. Insurance is on the car, not the person driving it.
    .
    Second choice – pay out of pocket and send him the bill. If (when) he doesn’t pay, go to small claims court.
    .
    Third option – file with your company, let them pay for repairs, then they will go to car owner’s company for reimbursement.

    • anon

      Option 3 is probably best. It seems like the driver has already admitted guilt. Maybe get him on the record before he realizes that’s going to work against him and he’ll be up against professionals soon.

      • ah

        The only problem with the third option is that they may make you pay the deductible first, until they can establish fault or collect from other company.

    • houseintherear

      That’s not accurate- insurance in the US goes mostly with the person (like for rental cars or if you borrow a car). If you borrow a car and do not have your own insurance, you can sometimes make a claim on the car owner’s insurance but it will likely become an uninsured motorist type of situation.

    • caphill324

      I would definitely recommend Option 3. I have done this and insurance companies are amazing at getting paid. You will be temporarily out the deductible if you fix the car right away but that’s better than paying the whole bill up front or spending a lot of time trying to find the unknown friend and insurance company. Do you have the license plate number? My insurance company tracked down someone who hit my parked car, left a note but then refused to pay because he thought my car was too old and not worth repairing. I only had his business card and a suspicion based on where the damage was that it was an SUV. It only took a few weeks for the insurance company to track him and his insurance company down and reimburse my deductible.

  • houseintherear

    Wrong. The insurance goes with the person. He’s scamming you, probably because he doesn’t have insurance. In your position, I’d set up a meeting with him and contact police to meet and mediate- they may even suggest meeting at the police station. Or just threaten him with some legal action.

    • Formerly ParkViewRes
      • ah

        In this case it’s not terribly relevant which the insurance “follows” – it’s just a question of whether the driver or the car owner is primarily responsible. As the link explains, the other can be secondarily liable.

        OP’s insurance company should take the DL information and the car registration information and it will be able to track down the insurance for both (if there is any) and then it will go after whoever it’s easiest to collect from.

  • anon&confused

    If his insurance “won’t cover it”, he should do so out-of-pocket. I’d be wary of taking it to his shop. Also, you could just pass his details on to your insurance company and let them hound his insurance…

  • RCHinDC

    I don’t know Virginia law, but I’m not sure your insurance will go after the other driver for such a small amount. I would let him know he needs to pay and you’ll go to the repair shop of your choice.

    • PJL

      That’s their call…but don’t assume they won’t and just skip that step. Call them first.

  • stacksp

    Sounds like he needs to pay the $900 bucks out of his pocket and not rely on insurance since he is at fault

  • PJL

    Doesn’t matter what time it is, ALWAYS CALL THE POLICE when you get in an accident as well so there is independent documentation and an accident report identifying all parties involved.

    I have been required to provide such documentation to insurance before in order for my claim to be completed.

    • textdoc

      I thought MPD no longer does accident reports unless there are injuries involved (or something like that). No?

      • rctran

        +1 When I first moved to DC, I got in a fender bender and called police (what you do in CA), and they told me they wouldn’t come out to take a report unless there were injuries.

      • OP

        OP here, and that was my understanding too (and I’ve heard the same about Arlington).

        Not sure if it’s important or not, but we’re moving abroad in about two months and are going to sell the car when we go so I’m not too worried about my premium going up.

        Maybe I offer to have him pay the deductible and we call it a day?

        • psoccer55

          I have seen MPD respond to a number of accidents and then decline to file an accident report due to the damage being minor and no injuries. They even said the insurance company would figure it all out. So I wouldnt worry about not having called the police.
          .
          Either way I would go through your insurance and have this all cleared up (it wont take long) so that you can get a better amount when you sell the car

          • OP

            Definitely want to get it repaired before we sell the car; it’s only a few years old and in very good condition (apart from this damage) so we want to get as much as possible for it.

        • caphill324

          If you file the claim with your insurance company, they are going to want to go after the person at fault. So, don’t make a side deal with him on the deductible because your insurance company may still go after him. If you decline to provide them with the information, they may decline to cover it.

      • PJL

        Hmm, maybe it’s changed. I was in an accident in D.C. a few years back, called MPD and they arrived and filed a report, so that’s been my experience. Generally a good idea across the board though, if you’re travelling elsewhere for example; the worst they can say is we won’t come out there to document it but no harm in trying.

    • anonymous

      While I agree with this, any time I’ve actually called the police they either didn’t come or wouldn’t come once they knew there were no injuries.
      .
      Is there another good alternative to this? One idea I’ve had is to call the insurance company on the spot to give them a description of the incident from both sides so there’s a record (I’ve had a problem where the other driver admits fault on the scene and then recants, or just hides from the company…maybe this would help). No idea whether this would work, though

    • eggs

      Yes, yes, yes. I can definitely speak to the fact that Arlington PD absolutely responds for minor fender benders with little to no damage, because they have for me and for people I know within the past few years. It’s always good to have the report. If they won’t file the report for whatever reason, you can get the cop’s card so your insurance company has someone to speak with on it if they need to.

  • psoccer55

    The first thing you should do after an accident, and the thing you need to do here, is contact your insurance. They will handle everything to include repair and reimbursement. You have the other drivers contact info and as long as you have the other car’s license plate they can find the insurance. There is no point pursuing the $900 from him, as the repair will be done cheaper at a better place (and probably guaranteed for as long as you own the car) by your insurance company. Due to him being at fault you can also request they go after him for your deductible.

    If you get the repairs done at a shop that doesnt work with your insurance company, they may refuse to pay the full amount. Plus, going through them makes the other party sign documentation that upon conclusion neither party will seek additional legal action against the other.

    • OP

      Thanks, this makes sense. I’ve tried to be reasonable by offering to go all-cash if he preferred but I’m not comfortable using his seemingly sketchy auto body shop. I forgot to mention that I did also photograph the license plate of his car, so I have that information.

  • wdc

    It’s not driver insurance, it’s auto insurance. It follows the automobile, regardless of who’s driving.
    That said, don’t mess around with a stranger’s insurance. You call your insurance company, they pay for your repairs, then they go after the other company to get paid. You may or may not have to pay your deductible in the meantime, but if it is as you say entirely the other guy’s fault, you’ll get it back.

  • SGW

    Insurance follows the car that is insured. Not the driver. His friend’s insurance is on the hook to pay for the damage. If you have a picture of the license plate of the car that hit you your own insurance company can track the owner and his insurance info down. Had to do this before myself bc of a hit and run. If you don’t have this you will have to talk to the driver and hope he gives you the vehicle owners information. You should contact your insurance asap, tell them the situation and let them handle it insurance to insurance. I wouldn’t mess around with this the unofficial way.

  • Anonymous

    It’s possible that the guy who was driving the other vehicle wants to handle the repair privately to avoid an increase in his insurance. It’s just as, if not way more likely that he wants to go the private route because he has no insurance.
    A few years ago I got rear ended by a pickup truck while sitting at a red light in Maryland. We both turned the corner and pulled into the parking lot of a church. The guy, who was Latino, offered to have me bring the car to his friend’s body shop to get it fixed. I declined. I took a photo of his drivers license and the insurance card that came with the truck. I reported it to my insurance company, Geico, and gave them all of the info. Even though I was not involved in the claim anymore, Geico kept me apprised of their efforts to get payment from the other insurance company, which was State Farm. As it turns out, when State Farm received the claim and looked at the policy number and info, it could not find any such policy in its records. So I guess the insurance card was fake. Geico took care of processing the claim on my end and paid for the repair, minus my deductible. (My policy includes coverage for under- and un-insured motorists.) And Geico undertook its own efforts to go after the driver personally.

    • HaileUnlikely

      If we accepting as fact that the driver who caused the crash was indeed driving his friend’s vehicle, I suspect that he is trying to handle it privately to avoid causing his friend’s insurance rate to increase, which would undoubtedly not make his friend happy. Although from the perspective of the OP this seems shady, I think it is easy to sympathize with somebody who borrowed a car who a friend, f*cked up, caused a crash, and wanted to burden the friend from whom they were borrowing the car with the consequences of their mistake any more than absolutely necessary. As others have noted above, the owner’s insurance for that vehicle, not the driver’s insurance (which if existent is for some other vehicle, not that one) would have been on the hook, which would have ended up f*cking the friend who owned the car. Is this the “right” thing to do? I don’t know – it’s complicated. But is it understandable why somebody in this situation would prefer to pay for the damage personally rather than bring their friend and their friend’s insurance into it? Of course it is.

  • Anonymous

    What are the odds that by the time the OP gets around to finally contacting his insurance company – which is what he should have done 2 minutes after the accident – he will find that the driver or the owner of the other vehicle has already filed a claim against his insurance?
    I don’t understand why this is such an ordeal. You have an accident, you call your insurance company and let them work it out. Maybe it’s just a DC thing but my policy includes under- and uninsured motorist coverage. I had an accident where someone without insurance ran into me. My insurance company took care of my car and went after the driver. I had no involvement other than handing over the info I got at the scene.

  • bruno

    I think the person who owns the car that hit you is responsible. That’s why you should not loan cars to friends who do not drive well.

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