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A few nights ago I had an accident with another car.

I hit their bumper bar, put about a tennis ball size dent. No damage was done to my car. I didn't tell them that I had insurance. Just putting this here now as an edit, if I go through insurance, I'd end up paying around $2000 in total for all exceptions, underage driver fee etc.

Today they followed me up with a quote from a repairer saying it would cost $700 for the repairs. Before they contacted me, I had asked around myself and this price did seem reasonable. (I had taken photos of the accident, and shown these to a few repairers.) Straight after the call, they sent me a photo of the quote on a business card + their bank details.

However, on the phone they asked me to transfer the money straight to their bank account. They sent their bank details over text and said its urgent and the money needs to be sent ASAP so they can get it repaired. They drive the car for taxi purposes, and the boss (also presumed car owner) was the one who contacted me.

This is where I am a bit uncertain, there is no formal written agreement. I am worried they are trying to pull a trick on me and end up scamming me. I know I have to pay the repair, but it just doesn't seem right.

Am I being tricked/scammed? or even better, how do I try and get a formal written agreement going? I only have their phone number.

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    How did they know what needs to be done ? Who gave them your details ? Why would they ask for payment even before doing any work ? bank details over text and said its urgent and the money needs to be sent ASAP Who would do so ? Ask them to send their cost breakdown. Might be a scam, might not. And whenever people say ASAP, I get wary. I believe you need to put some more information in your post. – DumbCoder May 26 '16 at 13:19
  • I'll go ahead and edit my post and put some more information, but basically on the night of the crash, I gave them my details. They own the car, their car has damage on the bumper bar, about the size of a tennis ball. They sent me a "cost breakdown" aka a photo of the quote on a business card. – Ransty Jr May 26 '16 at 13:22
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    The legalities of handling a traffic accident vary by country and are not related to personal finance. – Eric May 26 '16 at 14:54
  • If the quote was on a business card, I assume that means it was a hand-written amount? In that case, how can you know that it was written by the mechanic, and not by the vehicle owner? (I could easily visit an auto shop, take a business card, and write a number on it.) – Dan Henderson Jul 31 '16 at 17:08
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You have to realize that you're trying to have your cake and eat it too. You want to do things "unofficially" by not reporting the accident (to insurance companies and/or police), but you want to do it "officially" in that you want to have legal recourse if they try to hit you up for more money. The only way to have it both ways is to trust the other person.

From a financial perspective, ultimately you need to decide if the monetary cost of your raised insurance premiums, etc., outweighs the cost of whatever money the other party in the accident will try to squeeze out of you (factoring in the likelihood that they will do so). You also would need to factor in the likelihood that, rather than trying to scam you, they'll pursue legal action against you.

In short, from a purely monetary perspective, if the legitimate cost of repairs is $700 and the cost to you of doing it by the book via insurance is $2000, you should be willing to be scammed for up to $1300, because you'll still come out ahead. Of course, there are psychological considerations, like whether someone unscrupulous enough to scam you will stop at $1300. But those numbers are the baseline for whatever outcome calculations you want to do.

On the more qualitative side of things, it is possible they're trying to scam you, but also possible they're just trying to hustle you into doing everything quickly without thinking about it. They may not be trying to gouge you monetarily, they just want to pressure you so they get their money. I agree with other answerers here that the ideal way would be for them to send you an actual bill after repairs are complete. However, you could ask them to send you a written copy of the repair shop estimate, along with a written letter in which they state that they will consider payment of that amount to resolve the issue and won't pursue you further. The legal strength of that is dubious, but at least you have some documentation that you didn't just try to stiff them. If they won't give you some form of written documentation, I would read that as a red flag, bite the bullet, and contact your insurance company.

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    Almost perfect answer and +1, except there should be no conditional on actual repair. If the estimate is fair, the other party should be free to take the compensation for lost value in cash if they prefer to. Granted unlikely if they're a paid driver, but it's their right. – user662852 May 26 '16 at 19:59
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Do not give them any money until you have a signed contract that releases your liability completely. It's imperative that this contract be drafted correctly. The contract needs proper consideration (money in exchange for release of liability), among other things. In other words, talk to a lawyer if you want to go this route. If you just cut them a check, there's nothing stopping them from taking your money and making an insurance claim anyway, or taking your money and then suing for "whiplash" or some other fake injury.

The best way is just to go through insurance. It might cost a bit more, but you're covered in case they sue.

  • When you talk to the lawyer, the lawyer will explain that your insurance company contract requires you to notify them of any auto accident, and that in some states the law requires you to notify the police as well, and that any contract like this would therefore be unenforceable. – Sneftel Aug 22 '18 at 11:12
  • @Sneftel The contract states that in exchange for monetary compensation from party A, party B agrees to release party A from all liability with regard to the accident. There is no mention of not notifying the insurance company or the police. Do go back and re-read the answer. – TainToTain Feb 5 at 23:40
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You wouldn't pay what the quote says, you would pay what the bill says. If the car is used as a taxi then either it's done illegally and not your problem, or they have proper insurance. One reason to go through your insurance is that they know how to handle all these things for you.

If you have only their phone number: You owe them money, so they will contact you.

  • So are you saying, wait for them to actually get the repair done, then pay what the bill says? Because that seems the most logical to me, however, once that happens, they know that I could just ditch it and never respond. But on their side they could bring it to court, etc. – Ransty Jr May 26 '16 at 14:03
  • What you should do is get three quotes and pay the lowest or average. Otherwise they can take it to a friend who will overcharge. Also they could legitimately decide to keep the money and not fix the vehicle. – Ukko May 26 '16 at 18:16
  • @user662852 Did you misread what I wrote, or do you think it is OK to take a car with $500 of damage to your cousin Vern and have him fix it for $3000. Sure you can have Vern do the work but the other person or their insurance company is only on the hook for $500. – Ukko May 26 '16 at 20:18
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I would write them a check or give them cash money. There are payment receipt forms available online, you can print one of have them fill it out and sign it.

Just google "private party receipt".

Money transfer (via bank account or Paypal) is also an option, but in my opinion it's more convenient to meet up and handle it in person. If you want, you can have them meet you at a notary public's office (your local bank branch should have one) and have the receipt notarized.

I don't think it's a scam, but make sure you are paying the right person.

  • I'm just a bit wary about sending them a transfer, I feel like it's not right. They could plain outright say that I never paid. But I'd have the proof that I've sent the transfer. For all I know it might not even be their bank account. As for the other options, they do seem more trustworthy, having a payment receipt form sounds like a good option to ensure they don't try to come back and demand me pay the $700 again. Thanks – Ransty Jr May 26 '16 at 14:04

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