700 Edge Street
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

“I’ll Just Pay For Your Damages, Okay?”

The True Costs Of Allowing The Other Party To Pay Out-Of-Pocket!

During my career as a Senior Claims Adjuster for a major Insurance Carrier, I came across countless situations where the person responsible for the damages to someone’s car or truck wanted to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket. During our normal work week here at Fenders Collision USA in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, we will complete a Damage Repair Estimate for at least one potential customer who expresses…”the other guy just wants to pay for the repairs himself”.

“I Have Insurance, But…”

One of the first questions that we ask our potential customers when they come to our 700 Edge Street location is if the collision damages will be covered by an insurance claim. We work with so many Insurance Carriers, such as Allstate, Geico, Mercury, Progressive, State Farm, USAA, Workmens and numerous others that typically the answer is yes. However, when our potential customer informs us that the other party wants to pay, I will usually inquire as to why. The reasons given by the other party are almost always the same:

  • “I don’t want my insurance rates to go up!”
  • “It is such minor damage that it can’t be all that much!”
  • “I have a $1000 deductible and it has got to be less than that!”

…and on and on and on…

Those Unforeseen Cost Of Auto Accident Repairs

However, few seem to grasp the potential for hidden costs and other liability issues that come with damaging another person’s property. Once a person accepts responsibility for the damages, they are in effect accepting responsibility for all costs associated with repairing those damages.

The collision repair process begins with disassembling or “tearing down” the vehicle in the area of impact. It is during this initial stage of disassembling and inspection that addition hidden damages are uncovered. Hidden damages and other unforeseen expenses, such as part’s price increases, shipping, etc., can often add hundreds of dollars to the final invoice. Now if the responsible party has accepted the initial estimate as the actual final repair cost, then difficulties will probably arise when they are approached about these additional unforeseen costs.

Car Rental…Who Pays?

Another major issue that is seldom given much thought is the loss of use of the vehicle while it is being repaired. At a minimum, most collision repairs will take two to three days and often take longer depending on the severity of the damages. The vehicle owner will often require alternative transportation or, at the very least, compensation for loss of that vehicle’s use even if they have a second car or truck to use. Daily car rental fees can range anywhere from $30 – $60 per day not including taxes and add-on fees.

Time and time, I have seen that the person who usually receives the worst end of the deal is not the one responsible for the accident in the first place, but the vehicle owner that is just trying to get there car or truck back to a state of “normal”. This is why I always advise that allowing the responsible party to pay for your collision damages themselves is seldom a good idea.

Auto Accidents On Vacation

That was not in the travel brochure!

So much collision damage…so far from home!

Simon and Sarah Martin have been traveling to the Emerald Coast here in the Florida Panhandle from their home in Ottawa, Canada for nearly four decades. Each year Simon carefully packs their car under Sarah’s guidance and time-tested checklists before heading south for several months in search of a more agreeable climate.

The Martins are soon joined by tens of thousands of other visitors that flood into Navarre, Mary Esther, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Miramar Beach, Sandestin, Santa Rosa Beach, Rosemary Beach and other Florida cities and seaside communities that stretch along highways 98 and 30A. Almost all are looking for the same thing…to escape the realities of harsh northern winters.

After settling in, this pair of Destin Snowbirds set out to explore the community once again and soon find themselves sharing the roadways and parking lots with a multitude of other visitors to the area. With this many drivers unfamiliar with the area it is but a matter of time until some of them meet by accident and not in a good way.

A lesson from our Snowbirds…find an auto body repair shop that you can trust and stick with them!

Alfred Rosenberg, a new member of the Snowbird crowd, will swear to this day that he did not see the left turn signal of the Martin’s 2012 Chrysler 300. Alfred was amazed to find Simon Martin so matter-of-fact about the auto accident.

“This is not our first southern vacation auto accident since coming to the Fort Walton Beach/Destin area forty years ago” Simon calmly stated.

“I’ll call my Insurance Company immediately and see where they want me to take our cars for repairs!” Alfred said excitedly.

“If it is all the same to you, then we’ll just exchange driver’s information as Sarah and I have already found a dependable body shop in Fort Walton Beach. We know that it is our right to have our vehicle repaired where we want and not where the insurance company pushes us to.” Simon said quietly to Alfred.

Finding himself confused, Alfred asked Simon to explain further and this is what he learned standing in that shopping outlet parking lot…

How to find a professional auto body repair shop while far from home

  1. Have your insurance company refer to you someone within their “network of repair shops”. This may or may not be your best option as many insurance companies choose collision and auto body repair shop based on financial concessions given from the shop in exchange for referrals. However, if you choose a “network shop” to repair your crash damages and you have an issue once you return home, then you can often go to another local “network shop” for assistance.