Bet you that the German mastermind and inventor of the first working car, Karl Benz, never imagined the full extent of where his life-transforming brainchild would take those involved in accidents.
While there are various opinions about who actually thought of auto insurance, there is evidence that it was Herbert Stanley Morrison who was responsible for the federal government to require every driver to have an insurance policy that would protect them from associated liability risk exposure.
Despite the obvious great benefits to owning auto insurance, every driver is aware of the pitfalls to filing too many related accident claims: a subsequent peak in coverage rates!
It is for that very reason that many consider settling on a private arrangement between the drivers involved in a collision. If you are the one at fault in an accident and you have a history of insurance claims that name you as the guilty party, it may be wise to opt for this type of settlement. Before making any decision about it, though, it is wise to review a few particulars.
Disclaimer: Prior to agreeing to any form of private settlement, always exchange insurance information so that if you decide to opt out of the plan, you have the necessary info to share with insurance companies.
When a Settlement Makes Sense
If you are the one who caused the accident:
• Make sure to get a mechanic’s honest estimate for the repair. Will the auto repair cost less or a little more than your insurance deductible? If so, it’s sensible to pay out of the pocket for damages.
• Is the other driver a complete stranger? Can you trust him to be honest in regard to true damage and price evaluation? Only agree to a settlement if you understand you are not being ‘taken for a ride’; that damages on the car are the ones your accident caused and that you are not being asked to pay for extraneous fees.
• Make sure no one has been injured. Remember that medical costs can and often do exceed your cost expectations. In addition, if the other party is unscrupulous, he or she can bill you for a phony health problem, adding thousands of unnecessary dollars to your bill.
If you are the victim of the accident:
• Is the at-fault driver someone you know? If he is stranger, you may be taking a risk in trusting him to make payments on your losses.
• If you have been injured, your medical bills could very well exceed any amount the other driver is willing or can afford to pay.
• Establish that you will be the one selecting the mechanic to do repairs. Do not trust any agreement based on the other driver’s offer to do self-fixing or his repair shop preference.
• Refuse any cash deal settlement before getting a thorough evaluation of true damage.
• Refuse any settlement if the at-fault driver does not respond immediately to your attempts to contact him.