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Helping out the person I hit


I got a call from the nice guy I hit. Turns out my insurance company isn’t willing to pay for replacement of a fender that got damaged in the accident. I’m so pissed. I caused this. The poor guy shouldn’t have to deal with this.

The claims adjuster sounds like a jerk and I just called his boss who was equally jerky.

They’re trying to claim that they shouldn’t have to replace the fender (which will also require repainting the hood or door to match). The estimate sounds high–$2500. But the adjuster saw a small plastic guard by the tire that was bent, claimed it was prior damage and is using that as a reason to not pay for replacing the fender.

The adjuster said it isn’t a matter of cost or which shop the car is at. They don’t care. Their dispute is whether it happened in this accident. Why would cost not matter? What if another shop said it would cost $1000?

I understand that if they don’t fix it, the guy can file a claim at his insurance company and pay $500. But I feel like I should pay that which I cannot afford but I can’t let him pay.

What are the options here? Or does Geico just have me by the balls?


You are under no obligation whatsoever to help this guy out financially-- this is the reason why you have insurance in the first place, yes?

After you give him your insurance information, your obligation in the situation both financially and ethically is done. The most you should do is offer to tell your side of the story if he decides to pursue legal action against your company (and maybe assure him that you’re dropping those jerks). It’s possible that you calling Geico directly on his behalf might help, but probably not.

And, no, I don’t think you should pay him anything. You did everything you were supposed to by carrying insurance and it’s not your fault at all that the insurance company is choosing not to do the right thing. Of course another possibility is that the adjuster was right and there really was significant prior damage, in which case the payout should be zero.

When dealing with these circumstances, it is best for him to go ahead and use his collision insurance; pay the $500 deductible and let the two insurance companies fight it out. Personally, I don’t doubt that he will prevail (an insurance company can’t refuse a claim due to prior damage, but reduce and negotiate the actual amount to be paid by insurance, at least in my state – zero reimbursement appears to be the wrong answer, assuming you can verify that you caused a certain amount of damage). In the meantime, he needs to get three separate estimates to satisfy any claims issues with either insurance company.

If he uses his collision coverage, he gets his $500 deductible back if his insurance prevails at the end of the claims negotiation process. Many times this is the quicker way to get a car fixed and move on with everyone’s lives.

I would re-think renewing with this insurance company because they may treat you the same way if you have a valid claim.

Greasy is right, you have no obligation directly to him. This is between his insurance company and his.

But i comment your integrity and honesty. If everyone were this way we wouldn;t even need liability insurance.

The other driver should not contact you. He should contact his insurance company. My insurance company would tell me to report any contact from the other driver or his representatives and they would handle it. This happened to me a few years ago, and they stopped the calls immediately. BTW, it’s Geico. You have no idea what the other car looked like before the incident. Why are you so sure that the other driver isn’t trying to put one over on you? I’ve had Geico insurance for 41 years and they have always treated me well.

I’m getting paid a somewhat fair amount for my car being totaled.

As for the other guy, we have very similar damage. We hit so precisely on the corners of our car that the majority of the damage was to the opposite side, throwing the front of the car out of whack. Mine was worse from the sound of it.

But Geico seems to be playing a good game. They’re agreeing to fix the front damage. But they’re stopping at one of the fenders. You’d think Geico would want other estimates or else would balk at the estimate cost for that fender. But what they’re doing is trying to negate the fender completely claiming it wasn’t damaged in this accident.

I know it’s not my problem. But why should the other guy pay $500 for something that was my fault? He was told it could take a year for the 2 companies to fight it out. What a waste of everyone’s time.

I can tell you I will forever feel bad that he forked over $500. We are all connected to each other, whether we like it or not.

In my book you’re being a good human being.

The insurance companies often get the price reduced from the repair shop after a bit of professional haggling, so it’ll probably get fixed anyway. And when he agreed to the $500 deductable to keep his premiums reasonable, he agreed to accept risk for $500 worth of work.

I’m not suggesting that I consider what Geico is doing as honest or fair. Just that that’s reality.

JT made a good point too. You should not be contacting him and he should not be contacting you. Only the insurance companies should be contacting one another. That’s what they’re being paid to do. And they do this many thousands of times a year. They’re experts at resolving these things.

His choice of collision deductible is his problem, not yours or Geico’s. I have a $100 deductible (and pay for that privilege through increased premiums) precisely so if I run into an issue like this, I am out $100 for one year, not $500. He could have made the same choice. My personal experience is that I got my deductible back in three to six months.

I commend you for your integrity. For the past several years I have worked with a couple hundred insurance companies. From experience I can say that Gieco is probably the second worst company I have ever dealt with. I will not go into details but when I get a job from Gieco I sometimes turn them away and refuse to work on the car.

meanyeyedcatz: do you recommend a good insurance company in case I decide to switch? I have to say, my claims adjuster was a really nice guy. I think I should have gotten more for my car but I didn’t feel like haggling. I take it you’re a mechanic or auto body specialist?

Thanks everyone, for your perspective. When you’re dealing with this on your own, you have no idea how to look at it all.

Happy New Year.

All insurance companies are run in such a way as to favor their profit margin, rather than the people who pay the premiums or those who file claims.

That being said, Geico is more of a “lean and mean, profit-oriented” insurance company than most. Think about it–They advertise low rates, but do not say anthing about customer service. That should tell you something.

In terms of recommending a different insurance company, we need to know which state you reside in, as some insurance companies do business in just a few states. For instance, if you live in NJ, I would highly recommend both NJ Manufacturers Ins Co and the Palisades Ins Co. Both of them have excellent customer service, and NJ Manufacturers has very low rates, to boot. However, they likely do not do business in your state.

jpall11–In which state do you reside?


I’m in Oregon. I’ve had my Geico policy for 23 years, with one incident years ago. But wouldn’t it be a problem to switch companies right after hitting someone? I guess I’ve already lost my good driver discount.

I do already have a renters and business liability policy with State Farm. But I don’t know much about their car insurance.

On the prior damage thing on the other guy’s car, this seems like a tactic that ins. companies would employ to get out of a repair, right? Are these guys really forensics experts whose opinions are air tight? Apparently the adjuster is claiming that because a small piece of rubber was slight bent in a place that couldn’t have happened in this accident that he’s not paying for the repair of the entire fender. That seems totally bogus.

I’m hoping it never happens to me, but if it does, it would be good to know what recourse one has.

Thanks, you guys are all very helpful.

Forget it. Its his problem. You are nice to be concerned about it but its his problem. Sometimes people appear to be nice and they are really trying to take advantage of someone and manipulate them. End your relationship with him. Lots of rapists, murderers, and thieves appear to be nice.

Why not give your State Farm agent a call?
They have a decent reputation, and you should get a 10-15% discount on EACH of your policies with them, as you are a good customer.

Be honest with the SF agent, and tell him/her that you had an accident, but that you are not happy with the way that Geico handles things. He just might surprise you by offering to write an auto policy for you.

an insurance company can’t refuse a claim due to prior damage

Yes they can. Done all the time. There is no way of telling how much damage was done in the current accident if the part was already damaged. Also if the part wasn’t previously damaged (thus weakened) then this accident could have been less. Insurance company isn’t going to take YOUR word for it.

Agree with others; this is really between the 2 insurance companies, yours and his. If his company won’t pay, it can try get yours to pay since you you were at fault and no doubt have insurance for damage to 3rd parties.

I carry insurance for just that, including collisions with an “uninsured motorist”.

Don’t let this bother you and maybe the guy will change insurance companies.

The BEST thing you can do is walk away. That’s what you have insurance for. There isn’t a thing you can do about it. You have no legal standing to make any demands or requests for the guy’s car you hit. You can make requests/demands for any work on your car, but not his. It’s nice that you want to do the right thing, but once the insurance company gets involved then back away. All you get is frustration. In fact if you do fight this…insurance companies have ways of retaliating. So watch out.

The guy can take Geico to court or file a report with the insurance bureau of your state. He might ask you to for a statement which you under no obligation to give him.

If you do plan to switch companies…Check with friends and relatives where you live. An insurance company in one state may be totally different in another. Even though a company like State Farm is national the policy you have is written for that state…and thus run differently.

I also like your integrity honesty the world needs more of it.

“That being said, Geico is more of a “lean and mean, profit-oriented” insurance company than most. Think about it–They advertise low rates, but do not say anthing about customer service. That should tell you something.”

Actually, I already told you something about Geico’s customer service above. I’m pleased with their service and have had it for over 40 years. We’ve used them in the past 5 years and have had good service.

I understand your situation. I was horsed around by an insurance company of the motorist that hit our car and totaled it. I did manage to collect–I’ve told the story in another post. Sometime later, an agent of the same insurance company of the motorist that totaled our car called and wanted me to consider switching to his company. I told him about the problems I had collecting from his company and said that an insurance company that carries my liability insurance represents me. I expect that the party whose property I damaged be compensated fairly and in a timely manner without hassle. Therefore, I informed the agent that I wasn’t interested in being insured by his company, even if they could give me a better rate.