One thing bound to ruin your day is a flapping piece of paper under the windshield wiper of your car. Unfortunately, I came back to this little red flag on my windscreen a few weeks ago, and for once, I would have preferred it to be a parking ticket.
The note read: “I hit the back of your car, I’m so sorry. My details are…” with the person’s full name and number.
The immediate emotions were conflicting ones: dread, mingled with a heady feeling of relief. The latter was a surprising emotion, particularly as I stared at the bull bar-shaped depression in my rear bumper. But these days it’s sadly rare for someone to own up to an accident that could cost them serious money, even when insured.
Thankfully this driver was both insured and honest. I half-expected the phone number to be false, but it wasn’t. Instead, the driver answered, apologised yet again, and was very helpful in providing the details of the rental company, who had already been alerted to the incident involving their truck and my car.
Moving house is bad enough, but hiring a truck only to bump it headfirst into your new neighbour’s car upon arrival – what a terrible day this person must’ve had.
They did the right thing by leaving a note, but they should have called the police as I was not there to exchange details, and to my knowledge there were no witnesses. It’s a legal responsibility to call the police and report the incident.
There are whopping fines for drivers who leave the scene of an accident without exchanging details – even hitting a parked car. So if both parties are not present to swap details, it’s best to call it in as soon as possible (or at least ask the cops for advice).
As both vehicles had sustained minor damage – and one was a hire car – insurance was the only way to go. In other circumstances drivers may be tempted to keep insurance out of the picture to retain no-claim bonuses or to have a clear record with the insurance register.
Many people don’t know that every single insurance claim, from not-at-fault through to at-fault (even stolen or vandalised vehicles), all ends up on your record as part of an insurance register.
I was reminded of this when calling my own insurance company to report the incident and have them deal with the particulars of payments and reimbursements. I was walked through my record, which included three other claims in the past five years, and I nearly fell off my chair. Was I this bad a driver to have all these bumps and bruises recorded?
However, only one had been an accident; two were windscreen replacements from stone chips and one was a stolen trailer. Unfortunately, these all add up to make you appear more of a risk. It can also affect annual insurance estimates, particularly when moving from one insurer to another.
However tempting it may be to go around insurance and try to settle it with cash, those tiny dings can quickly blow out.
Following the (very long) phone call to my insurer, the car went straight to my local repair shop for a quote, and though the bumper was pushed in only lightly, the bull bar of the moving truck managed to scrape the limited-edition paint, the OTT rear diffuser and the reversing sensor strip. Damage totalled a whopping $3700.
The only bit of good news in this sad story was the other driver’s decision to pay an extra $30 insurance cover when hiring the moving truck, which reduced any accident damage down from $3000 to $500. The same price as a moving service, really – something the driver promised to do next time.