Finances & Money

Murphy’s Law: Pay off your car, get into an accident

Just 4 days ago, we paid off the last $3,300 on our Chevy Malibu. But what can go wrong, will go wrong.

We were so proud that the car was finally ours. But something bad happened on the beltway today (and this time, I wasn’t in the car!)

I got home from work and get a call from Stacie. She says someone hit her car. Since she was calling me and wasn’t crying, I determined she must be OK. Next was the car. I asked how bad it was and how it happened.

Stacie was on the 495 Beltway coming home from work and was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic around the Route 66 exit. Traffic started to move to the right and the car in front of her also started to move. Before Stacie moved, a Corolla wagon from the right lane tried to get in front of her, but the other driver (a young girl) didn’t have enough room. The other driver ignored Stacie warnings and scuffed the Malibu’s front right quarter panel and bumper.

Stacie got the girl (and her boyfriend) to pull over by frantically waving and flashing her headlights (the car’s, not hers). The girl, her boyfriend and Stacie get out of their cars and Stacie says “You hit me!” The girl says “But I had my blinker on!”…Stacie says “So what!”. What was Stacie going to do, back up into the person behind her so some moron could move over one lane in bumper to bumper traffic???

Anyway, Stacie got the girls name, addy, phone number, license plate info, insurance carrier (Geico) and policy number. Stacie got home and I went to check out the damage. There’s about 2 feet of affected area, with quite a bit of scuffing on the right quarter panel and bumper. The car is black, so it definitely shows up.

Stacie just got off the phone with Geico as I write this. She placed a claim against the other girl’s policy, and told me the Geico rep was very friendly. As they were talking, I got the claim information via email (she gave him my email addy, not hers), and by the time they were finished talking, I had logged in, verified our information, and seen who our assigned adjuster was.

Next up, let’s see how fast they review the claim, inspect the damage, and get it fixed! If they reject it, I’ll have to resort to placing a claim with my insurance company to fight it out with theirs, or try to buff it out myself.

Any opinions on what else we could have done? Have a similar (or worse) experience yourself that you can share? Leave a comment!

UPDATE: Geico is fast!

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Not sure about the law in DC, but usually after any accident you should call the cops. Even if it is small. That way there will be a police report that backs up what you say.

  • I actually had a similar situation in a bank parking lost and the guy that hit me had Gieco insurance. I had nothing but good things to say about how Gieco dealt with the claim. They were very helpful and didn’t try to withhold payment. I brought my car to an approved body shop where the damaged was priced. Then I had the option to get a check or have the body shop fix it up.

    Overall, very good experience.

  • To a certain extent GEICO can only do so much. If the girl doesn’t call them to verify the accident details this can get drawn out through no fault of theirs. Did they make arrangements for your car to be inspected when you called them?

  • …but usually after any accident you should call the cops.

    From personal experience, MD and DC police won’t come out to an auto accident unless it was a hit-and-run, someone was injured, or a vehicle needs towing.

    If they reject it, I’ll have to resort to placing a claim with my insurance company to fight it out with theirs, or try to buff it out myself.

    GEICO should give you no trouble over this claim, including a rental car for the time your car’s in the shop.

  • Sorry to hear about that! I had a somewhat similar accident where I was waiting at a light and a car parked perpendicular to me backed right up into my front bumper.

    One thing I might recommend doing differently, which I did, would be to call the police. If you don’t call the police, like King of Debt mentioned above, there is no record of the accident. The girl in the other car could at this point just say she has no idea what your wife is talking about.

    Sure, it’s insurance fraud, but if there isn’t any damage on her car she could probably get away with it.

    Of course, then you have to deal with grumpy cops who are called out for some slight bumper damage. I had to deal with the same thing and ended up not filing the police report because the cops said it would take awhile, they would have to file papers, etc and the damage looked “minor”. It turns out the little bump and scratch on my bumper was quoted at nearly $1000 to fix!

    Anyway, keep us updated and hopefully this will be a hassle free insurance claim for you.

  • Dude that sucks.

    I have to disagree with some of the comments. I’m not sure this will be cut-and-dried. I’m sure Geico is great to work with as people say, that’s not the issue.

    The problem may become what the girl tells her insurance company. They’ll ask her what happened and if her story differs substantially (e.g. she says Stacie rubbed her), they’ll side with the girl. At that point, you’re screwed and her insurance won’t pay a dime.

    I know because this happened to me. I was on the beltway and a woman just drove into me from the side (no traffic, no nothing – I have no idea what she was doing). Come to find out, she tells her insurance company I HIT HER!

    The take-away – always get a witness if at all possible. In a situation like this, the car behind Stacie probably had a good look. Even before getting to the other driver (the girl who hit her), get a phone number from the driver behind. This situation is ideal – Stacie simply stops her car and puts in in park, walks to the card behind her and gets a number.

  • I was also involved in an accident right after paying off my car, but it was about 2 months later. Luckily, no one was injured and I was not at fault. His company, Progressive, was very helpful, although it did take a long time to get settled (because the police report took 3 weeks…).

    I had a witness and a police report, and I took pictures. Be sure to carry a disposable camera in your car. Sometimes from pictures you can more easily determine how the accident occurred.

  • Patrick, thanks for mentioning about a camera. My wife actually did take some pics with her camera phone. Pics of our car didn’t turn out well, but theirs did. She should have taken more pictures, but she’s never been in an accident before (except for one where I was driving), so she was a bit flustered.

    However, I’m very proud of her for getting all the information we needed to file a claim.

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  • Dude,

    I don’t know what to tell you man. I really don’t. Let me ask you this. What would have happened if the girl didn’t stop or lied to her insurance company?

    I’m interested because people like me never have luck in situations like these.

  • Baz, luckily we don’t need to worry about what could have happened anymore since she claimed responsibility. However, we’ll need to remember for the future, in case this happens again (hopefully it never will though).

  • […] Wednesday, my wife got into a car accident, before the check even cleared for the last payment on the car (I posted the article early […]

  • You guys do know that there’s not such thing as an “accident” right?

    It’s always somebody’s fault or somebody being a careless dipshit. They’re collision incidents, not accidents.

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