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Auto Insurance Claims/Got into accident my fault no police involved 18 year old

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Question
I am 18 year old. Last Thursday I caused a small accident when merging lines I did not looks into blind spot carefully and cut 2 of her doors with my car! She had this old saturn 1997. I have offered her the same day that I will fix your car and will even provide a rental car for you, (found 2 doors on junk $65 and $75 and my dad's friend owns his own shop). first she agreed on the phone but the next day she has changed her mind and said that she will go and do an estimate.

I do have a insurance but the problem is I am added in the policy and I am a student. It will affect the whole policy! We pay 4.5k insurance for 5 cars. We had no cops involved but she has a witness! Today I have called her and she has done 2 estimates one is $1500 and another is $1200, but her car does not even worth that. I don't even think that she has insurance on her car. She said that the car was not under her name and the insurance wasn't either. I doubt she had insurance on her. Her car was even hit before that also. I did not give her my license nor she gave me hers, I have given her my insurance though. She has copied my policy number but did not give me her insurance card.

Please give me some advices should I tell her to make insurance claim or pay should I pay her the estimate? I have offered her to fix it but she seems to be more interested in money.

The lawyer told me that the whole policy could raise by 20% plus additional to that I could lose a chance of having a 20% good student discount which I should be getting soon since my GPA is good. What should I do?

I have no tickets nor accidents on my record, should I avoid that and just pay her or let her deal with insurance company? I don't want it to effect the whole policy and its a minor damage that does not cost nearly that much.

I live in Washington state, Insurance is PEMCO.
Thanks!

Answer
Dimon,

I responded to this back on 12-10...not sure why it wasn't posted and I apologize for the delay.

First, please understand that I am not an attorney and cannot and do not provide legal advice.
Secondly, not knowing your state’s laws and regulations applicable to your situation puts me at a disadvantage but I will provide my opinion based upon the information provided.

Liability doesn't seem to be in question and you should do the right thing and step up and handle your responsibilities by restoring them to their pre-loss condition. This can be done by payment of the repair or making the repair…it is their choice to repair or not.

I fully understand your concerns regarding rising insurance rates and such and I agree it would be best for you to have the repairs made as least expensive as possible; the following facts may be of help to you:
1.   The choice of repairer is the vehicle owner’s.
2.   The vehicle owner has a right to be made whole for all losses arising out of the loss but only to the extent that they are “fair and reasonable”. They do not have to have the repairs performed and if they don’t it will likely be less costly as there will be no “hidden damages” and additional costs for same.
3.   You are only obligated to pay a “fair and reasonable” amount for repair of the damages you caused. No more...No Lees.
4.   You have a right to request that the customer allow your repairer to inspect and prepare a written estimate for a proper and thorough repair... just as the owner has a right to seek estimates as well.

Hopefully you can earn the vehicle owner’s compassion and trust that your intentions are good and that they will visit your preferred repairer and that they will elect to have the repairs done at your shop…or accept your repairer’s estimated amount for a full settlement. The vehicle owner is obligated to work with you in "good faith" to resolve the issue.
Keep in mind, that should they elect to repair, you may be obligated to pay for their rental car during that time of repair.

The older Saturns have plastic rivet-on outer door panels and if the damages are restricted to the outer panels only (not their frames) the cost of repair should be relatively minor…especially if you are able to obtain used/salvaged replacement parts of the same color!

If the other party has no interest in cooperating with you, then you only have a choice of:
A. paying what they want…or…
B. Advising them to seek recovery through their own insurer…or
C. Invoking your insurance policy and allowing your insurer to handle it on your behalf.

Of course the best remedy for you would be to provide the other party a cash payment based upon your chosen repairer's estimate of repair.

I hope this helps and I appreciate your efforts to do the right thing!

Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

Barrett

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Barrett Smith

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Auto Claim and Collision Repair issues including quality and thoroughness of repair, Diminished Value, Total Loss settlement valuation, Appraisal Clause matters, Expert Testimony, pre-purchase inspections and others. While having been a Senior Claims Adjuster, I am not licensed to practice law and cannot provide legal counsel. I will provide replies as friendly and informal advice based upon my experiences and those of our clients as possible. For more information on our offerings please visit www.AutoDamageExperts.com For more informatin on our offerings please visit www.AutoDamageExperts.com

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I grew up working in a family owned auto body repair business my father owned and operated in Alaska and after leaving the US Air Force I started my own repair facility in Florida. I later became a senior claims adjuster for a national auto insurer and later managed two GM dealership collision centers. I started another shop which was recognized as a "Top Shop" in central Florida for over 15 years winning numerous local accolades and awards such as Business of the Year. In 2001 I developed Auto Damage Experts to provide its services nation wide and to all segments illustrating balance and equity for all ADE clients. For more information please visit www.AutoDamageExperts.com

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