Last week, a fellow member of the human race decided to nail my car in the parking lot and flee like the little…all right, I promised myself I wouldn’t rant. We’ll keep it PG.
All things considered, this wasn’t a bad introduction to the “system” (police, insurance, repair shops, etc.), as I’ve never had an accident before. I would imagine it’s probably nothing compared to hitting something/someone on the open road.
Nevertheless, the coward (oops, there I go again) that did over $1K in damage to my ride and got away with it is somewhere out there with really bad karma due up. Good riddance.
My emotional range that day went something like this:
- Shock. What the heck?
- Anger. Who the heck?
- Frustration. There’s nothing I can do?
- Acceptance. Oh, well, let’s write some blog posts.
The first important thing I did was try to figure out where the damage happened and who could have done it (though I have to say that jumping to conclusions prematurely isn’t good either—my initial hunch was wrong).
The second thing I did was call the police to get a report put together, mostly because of the hit-and-run nature of the incident. I didn’t want to run up against time limits for reporting the crash in case I found the culprit later.
Finally, I had to figure out whether to involve insurance in the claim. FMF hit the nail on the head the other day in his recent series:
“We buy insurance to cover potentially catastrophic problems and we make claims only as a last resort.”
To help out with the decision, I got an estimate from the local body shop. With the work coming in at $1,200 and a deductible of $1,000, it’s almost a no-brainer to pay out of pocket, since my premiums are likely to go up after any kind of claim.
Anyway, in no particular order, here are a few tips for dealing with a hit-and-run in the parking lot:
- Get someone else involved. You honestly need an objective person to keep you level-headed through this. You’re already angry or upset, and trying to decide what to do can be challenging.
- Act quickly. I’ve since heard stories from friends where 10 minutes made the difference between catching who did it and not. Even if you never do, be mindful of the “promptness” required for reporting things to police, insurance companies, etc. if you expect to make a claim.
- Get a quick estimate. Drive over to a body shop as soon as practical and figure out how much the damage will cost you. Since insurance companies require you to tell them about an accident “promptly,” waiting several days might result in a lost claim.
- Think twice about claiming. Or even calling your insurance company to ask, which can still go on your record. Any claims are likely to increase your insurance premiums, so consider your deductibles and other downsides before making the decision.
- Get over it quickly. Seriously, I know it sucks and you want to strangle the jerk who did it, but it’s unlikely that you’ll ever find him/her. Forgive, forget, and accept it as a bad part of car ownership. Plus, karma will come around. 😉
- Sit on the repair for a few days, if you can. Sometimes, the car is simply not drivable, but if it is, try to wait. Trust me, the damage always looks better on the second day, and like no big deal on the third. Don’t let emotions push you to accept the first repair offer you get just because you want to get it fixed. You’re more likely to make a good choice from a more relaxed state.
Above all, cherish the fact that no one got hurt and you’re still alive to get mad about it. 🙂 Best of luck if you have to deal with this!
Photo by Dr. Keats