Finances & Money

Hit and Run: Had to Use Our Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Last Friday, I had to travel down to Virginia to meet my new boss and submit some paperwork to the security office. I had the option to take the metro or drive, but since it was in the early afternoon (with low traffic), I decided to drive. Well, I wish I hadn’t.

I had an uneventful drive down in the Honda Ridgeline until I got close to the office. That’s when I got a little lost, but that’s not the main problem. I finally found the place and the parking garage connected to it. I went in, but couldn’t find a spot so I left and circled around again. I then found another parking garage about 3 blocks away, parked the truck and went to the office.

I was in the office for 2 hours, walked back to my truck, unlocked it remotely, but before I got in, I noticed something. Someone had swiped the driver side of my truck! There was a large, silver SUV or pickup truck with a cap parked next to me when I parked, but of course I didn’t have the foresight to memorize the license plate of the vehicles next to me. I was in a hurry to get into the office.

honda ridgelineLuckily the damage is just cosmetic. A minor portion of the rear driver-side door is scuffed down to the base coat, and the raised area above the rear tire (see the stock photo over to the left) is dented and scuffed. It’s all sheet metal, so they can pound out the dents.

So What Did I Do?

I’ve never been involved in a hit and run before, and I didn’t think the police would come to the parking garage given past experience. In the few accidents I’ve had in the past decade, I called the police, but they wouldn’t come out when no one was hurt. So I just drove home, called Allstate and put in a claim.

I’ve put in a few claims so I knew what to expect, but this time I was thrown for a little loop. The operator suggested that I use the uninsured motorist (U/M) coverage in my policy. I knew I had this, but I totally forgot about it. I’m very glad I have it though, and here’s why:

Note: Your policy may differ:

  • With the U/M coverage, our deductible goes down from $500 to $250
  • With the U/M coverage, it’s an instant “no fault” claim. This is a major bonus because our 3 years from the last accident is up this April. That’s when our premium should go down. I was really worried about the effects on this timeline.
  • With the U/M coverage, I can get a rental vehicle even though I don’t have rental coverage on our regular policy

The uninsured motorist coverage has other benefits such as medical and liability coverages, but since the car was unattended and didn’t hit anything else, I didn’t need those extra features.

The Claims Process

So I took the truck into the drive-thru claims office near our home and waited for 30 minutes while the claims adjuster reviewed the damage, looked up quotes and prices and then finally issued an estimate for work. He asked where I would take the truck for repairs and I said I would take it to the Allstate facility (Sterling Auto Body). I’ve used them in the past and they’ve always produced good work.

Now this is something I haven’t done before: He actually cut me a check right there for the amount above the $250 deductible. The final damage was $825, so the check was for $575, made out directly to, wait, ME. I didn’t notice that until just now. I guess I should go cash this check, huh? I could have sworn he told me to give that check to Sterling.

Anywho, I scheduled the repairs for Monday, which I conveniently have off due to the MLK Jr. holiday. I don’t expect the truck to be out of commission for too long, but luckily we have 2 other vehicles if I really needed to drive somewhere.

Switch to Allstate and Save!
So the lesson here is to know your coverage. If the Allstate rep wasn’t on the ball enough to suggest the U/M coverage, I would have been spending hundreds more just for the deductible. And I wish there was some other lesson about driving and parking, but sometimes we just have bad luck.

Oh, and although Allstate charges me higher premiums than I expect I would be paying elsewhere, I’ve been very, very pleased with their claims service every time I used it…and that’s been quite a few times in the last 7 years.

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  • I ran into this (no pun intended) situation recently too. Except for my wife and I were on the freeway and got tangled up in an accident.

    To make it short, someone in front of me swerved to avoid an accident and I couldn’t brake in time. The odd thing was that the guy who cut me off (and I consequently hit) took off like a bat out of hell. My only guess is that he didn’t have a license or insurance. In any event, when I filed the accident with my insurance (State Farm), they told me not to worry and said they would settle it under “Uninsured Motorist”. It was the first time I had ever used that. All I can say is that it worked great in our situation.

    I realize that I might pay a little more for State Farm, but I’ve been really happy with them. And another benefit that I like about SF around this time of year is the fact that they provide free tax filing through TurboTax online.

  • Someone threw a brick through my window once while it was parked on the street. Though not quite as maddening as being swiped, I was pretty disgusted by it. Cowards did it in the middle of the night.

  • Tim, since Allstate is just taking care of it, I won’t have to. I did ask whether I needed to get the exact address of the parking garage or the spot I was in, but they said they would take my word for it.

  • Clever Dude, yes but it still means having to pay the deductible. If the choice was going to the garage to review the tape and having to pay a high deductible, then I guess I would go get the tape. moreover, if the cost of repair is less than the deductible, then it doesn’t pay to report it to the insurance company. if it is cosmetic, then does it pay to have it fixed? just some thoughts on saving money since this is a pf blog.

    with this said, is your insurance worth paying higher premium for a $500 deductible vice a $1000 deductibles? is it possible to increase UM deductible? just some more thoughts about lowering your insurance premium if you are sticking with allstate.

  • Tim, I understand your suggestions, but in my case, I’d rather just pay the $200 than have to hassle with the security office of that parking garage. The area is over 23 miles away from my home, and it already takes me over an hour to get there and I don’t want to spend any more time there than I need. It’s not at my worksite, so I’d have to take time off from work to walk about a half-mile away and deal with it. It’s all relative though. I know $200 to me is different than $200 to someone else.

    Regarding the $500 vs $1000 deductible, I’ve run the numbers with my agent and it’s just not worth changing the deductible. It’s only a very marginal decrease in the premium (under $10 per 6 months), and considering my frequency of accidents (they’re definitely reducing drastically though. It’s been almost 3 years since the last one), I’ve more than made up for the cost of the lower deductible. But then again, each insurance carrier is different, and even the costs within the same one.

    I plan on shopping around this April when my last accident is 3 years old.

  • I think it’s shameful that people do this to others and drive away. It’s one thing when you accidentally bump a car with your door as long as there’s no dent. Hit and run can land people in bigger trouble than the expense of having to use their insurance to cover the damage they did. In my building’s parking garage every now and then someone got bumped into or swiped. The worst I saw was someone put a note on their door asking if they knew who hit them. We don’t have a camera system in the parking garage so there’s no way to know who or when things happen.

    My wife’s car got broken into and they stole a bunch of stuff, left the car though. Called the insurance company and my loss were equal to the deductible, so I wouldn’t get anything back. What good is insurance at that point? Something happened to us and we don’t get a dime from anyone. There had been a crime spree in the area her car broken into, 17 cars in all, and I bet everyone had to eat the cost of the things they stole.

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