If at fault for minor car accident, should I go through my insurer to resolve damages or pay the personwhose car I hitout-of-pocket?

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If at fault for minor car accident, should I go through my insurer to resolve damages or pay the personwhose car I hitout-of-pocket?

Last Thursday evening I was crossing through an intersection on a green light. Upon almost crossing the intersection, a car from the cross street made a right hand turn right in front of me and then slammed on its breaks to parallel park. I in turn, moved into the left lane and upon doing so stuck a car’s front passenger side with my rear driver’s side. I thought I had enough room to move into the lane and even had time to put on my blinker but the other driver said it was my fault. I have not yet reported it to my insurer. He got an estimate for $1167.06 to fix his car. Do I pay him or go through my insurance?

Asked on June 20, 2011 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You probably should go through your insurer. The reason is two-fold:

First, sometimes costs escalate--the repair becomes more involved, more damage is found, a person discovers he or she is injured, etc. You want your insurer to be in a position to indemnify you for those potential costs--even if you are willing ot pay $1,167.06, would you pay $2,000? $5,000? Etc.

Second, while you should check your policy to be sure, generally, insurance policies obligate the insured to report all claims and potential claims to the insurer. Failure to do so could mean you are in breach of your obligations, which if it comes out, could imperil future coverage when  you need it.


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