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Car Insurance

A Blog About Driving and Car Insurance in the USA

Friday, December 07, 2007

Insurance Claim or Pay Out-of-Pocket?

Last week, a mechanic at the dealership where I take my car for servicing told me that my car did not pass inspection because it had a problem which they could not fix. Turns out the right spring pocket was so rusted that it was ready to fall off, and, she explained, if it was to dislodge while driving at high speed, I could end up in the hospital, or worse. The fix involved some welding, so only an auto-body shop could do the repairs. The mechanic recommended a place nearby for the job, so I made my way over there.

The owner of the auto-body place -- let's call him Ed -- told me that the fix would cost me about $870. I couldn't understand how such a small welding job could cost so much. I told Ed that I needed the job done so that my car can pass inspection, and I explained that my insurance company would not be involved. I unsuccessfully pushed for a discount. My understanding was that a discount is the norm when the vehicle owner isn't going to make an insurance claim. There goes that theory.

Ed then told me that I could simply submit a claim to my insurance company, since I have comprehensive coverage. I asked if this was legal, since the damage was caused by aging and not a specific incident, and he chuckled at my ignorance. "That's what comprehensive coverage is for," he said. I thought about it for a minute, then told him that I would pay cash for the repairs. I was worried about my insurance rates going up.

In hindsight, I'm not sure if paying cash was the right move. I can't work the numbers, because I have no idea how much my premium would rise as a result of a claim. I'm not losing sleep over my decision, but next time, if the bill is $800 or higher, I'll probably make the claim.

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