My Sister Backed into My Car...Now What?

Updated on October 08, 2019
S.L. asks from Arvada, CO
17 answers

My sister backed into my car (on accident of course) and left a fairly large scrape and dent in the front passenger side. She offered to pay for it but I'm sure it's going to cost a seems everything is well over $1000 (I don't have estimate yet). Anyway, she doesn't have a lot of money and we are a lot more financially secure than her. She does have insurance, but I'm sure her rates will go up if she files a claim.
Would you just pay for it yourself? She keeps insisting that she'll pay for it, but I just feel bad charging her....she has done a number of favors for us over the years - everything from watching our house to watching our daughter - all voluntarily on her part.

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answers from Norfolk on

You pay for the repair up front and then she can pay you back for it over time.
If you want to help her you can pay her a bit more for the favors she does for you while she's paying you off.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Atlanta on

What Rimma said. As long as you and your spouse feel absolutely comfortable with paying for most of the repair, it seems kind and fair to do that. Letting your sister contribute a certain amount ($100 or $200) will give her the dignity of taking responsibility for the accident without putting her into financial difficulties now or for paying higher insurance premiums for the next three years.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My son backed into a work truck. We filed an insurance claim but they wanted to "total" the car because the cost to repair was TWO DOLLARS - yes TWO DOLLARS higher than the value of the car. We told them to pound sand and we got it repaired for half the price at body shop that was advertising half off. They did a really good job fixing it.

You have insurance for a reason. If you are financially able - call around and find out how much it would cost to fix. Or FILE A CLAIM!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

If you think she is generally irresponsible and needs to learn that grown-up responsibilities have grown-up consequences, then have her pay for it. You might write up a schedule allowing her to pay it over time - but put it in writing and have her sign it.

You can give her credit for what she's done for you already, and you can perhaps use that to split it with her. It depends on whether you think what she has done equals the damage to the car, and whether you want those things to count as "transactions" so that they all have a dollar value going forward.

If she's generally very responsible with your car and possessions (which I would hope she is since she watches your house and your child), you can pay for the damage and hope she will continue to help you out for free.

Get a reliable estimate, of course, and use your regular body shop or one approved by your insurance company.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Go ahead and pay for it because you are more able to afford it. Let your sister contribute what she can do. That way she will feel better about the situation.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

um, DeeDee. This is what insurance is for. You have damage, it needs repair. File the claim. Have her pay the co-pay that is due. Simple as that. Be done with it. Get your car fixed.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Some people's insurance goes up after the first claim. I get why some people would rather avoid going through it.

I wouldn't offer more than half the cost of the repairs. She has helped you out, but I bet you have helped her in ways too. You really can't put a dollar value on that, and it's a little odd to do that anyhow.

I think where you have funds, and are willing to help - great. So just be gracious and say "We'd like to cover half the expense". That's nice.

Any more than that, and I think it's a bit much (personally). Then she has the option to decide if she wants to go through insurance.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If she hasn't had any claims in the past three years her rates shouldn't go up (of course it depends on her carrier but that's how mine works) so she will only be out whatever the deductible is.
If it's going to end up costing her a lot you could always offer to split it with her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

File an insurance claim and have her pay the co-pay. Bada-Bing-Bada-Boom!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

If it doesn't interfere with the drivability of the car, I would just rustproof the scrape and not bother fixing the dent.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I’d get an estimate at the body shop that is recommended by your insurance company. Tell them you’ll be paying it yourself, so you’ll need their very best estimate. Once you know the cost, decide if she should file a claim or if you can split the cost or what.
If the cost is high, file a claim and tell her you’ll pay the deductible. Most insurance companies don’t raise the rates for a first claim.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My mom had someone back into the side of her car and she found someone who fixed it for cheap. She had to drive out in the country to his house, but it was worth it. She couldn't believe how much more affordable it was than going to a normal auto mechanic. I say ask around to see if you can find someone. My brother is a blue collar worker kind of guy and he knew how to find this guy. A friend of a friend kind of thing. If you can't find someone like this I think you should go through insurance. Yes, she might have to pay a little more a month, but that is what happens if you back into someone. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Find someone who can do the work for cheap, then have her pay for it out of pocket, or split the cost if you feel so bad. She doesn't have to go through insurance. I only do so for big things, like an accident where my bumper and hood is crumpled. For a ding, dent, or scraped paint (which many times happens while you're parked somewhere and then the culprit has taken off, so you can't even call cops or have their insurance covers it), I have a body work guy who does it for me for $300 or so -- less than what my insurance deductible would be, so filing a claim would be pointless as it would cost me more than my deductible, plus an increase in premiums.

PS: I found my cheap body work guy through my sister, who found him through her dealership's salesman. She had a lease to turn in that was scratched up by a nasty neighbor in the parking garage and her salesman, who has leased cars for her for the past decade, recommended this repair guy that the Acura dealership itself uses for lease returns, before the cars are put into the used car lot for sale. If you have someone like that at the dealership that you do business with frequently, they may also be able to recommend someone like that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I say it all depends on your relationship with her. Is she the type to take advantage...or is she a good person?!

If you guys are close and Like you said she has done favors.. no I would pay for it.. assuming this will not put a strain on your finances. Plus reporting it goes on cars record so when you want to sell it this accident will come up.. and since she was driving her insurance will go up for sure!

So no I wouldn’t, maybe if you want take$100 so she feels that she put money in.. symbolical.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

is she newly insured? if her track record is good, many companies don't raise rates for a first accident.

i would have her get estimates at three different body shops. if she can handle the cost (or you can and you trust her to pay you back) you could just go there and bypass insurance.

but if you don't have that kind of cash lying around, she'll have to go through her insurance. i mean, that's what it's there for, right?

good for her for insisting that she's going to live up to her responsibility. family should always help each other out when they can, so this shouldn't impact your favors to each other (theoretically- obviously families are complicated.)

but you shouldn't feel bad. you didn't create the problem, and her taking care of her mistake doesn't mean you are 'charging' her. it just means she's being responsible.

help out to the degree you're comfortable with, and trust your sister to make good on it beyond that.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

This is exactly what insurance is for. She needs to claim the damage and face the consequences (which if she is claim free, should be little to nothing). If the deductible is large, and you feel like you want to help her out because of all she has done for you, fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I was in the same situation as your sister. I backed into my sister's vehicle a few years ago & left about $1500 damage. I didn't have much money but I had insurance. My sister told me not to worry about it. But i said no, that's what insurance is for! Her insurance won't go up that much.
Trust me it's for the best! It could come up later on, & it could cause hurt feelings. Because you might get upset when your low on money & think you wouldn't be if your sister paid to fix you car.
Just a thought!

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