I mentioned last week that we were planning a trip to California for a special family event. Well, we just got back late last night and the trip was good. It was for the most part uneventful; we got to visit with my parents and both sets of grandparents on my side of the family who were also there for the event. It was great visiting with everyone and the event itself that we went for was really good.
The term For the most part uneventful though, leaves room for something, and that something is really bothering me; my dad backed into our new van on the morning we were planning to leave…
I don’t know how it happened. I was in the shower and my dad came and knocked, saying that he backed up into the front of the van and there is a crack in the bumper. I expected a hairline crack, but what I found when examining the van was much more. He drives a small truck with a shell, probably magnifying the lack of visibility that may have caused the accident. The damage to the van was more severe than I imagined; there was a crack, but aside from the main crack that looked more like a golf ball sized hole in the bumper, there were cracks going out from that hole in a spiderweb pattern in every direction, measuring about six inches in length. On top of that, he hit right where the front headlight sits which pushed the front headlight under the hood of the car, breaking the light’s plastic housing on the inside. The frame on the outside that sits adjacent to the bumper was also tweaked.
Normally in this situation, both parties would exchange insurance information; he would be required to pay the deductible on his insurance and they would cover the rest of the repair. When insurance is involved, his insurance premiums would most likely rise, and the repair shop would charge much more than the repair actually cost them.
In this situation, I am very frustrated. This is family and I know it was an accident, though I can’t fathom based on where my car was parked and where his car was coming from, how he could possibly have not seen my car and how he did the amount of damage he did.
If the damage was simply cosmetic, I’d get an estimate but probably would just forget about the whole thing, but in this case the damage could possibly effect the safety of the car as the light housing was damaged and I can’t just not get it checked out. The safety of my wife and kids is a priority and I need to make sure that the car will still be safe to drive, day and night, and that the engine was not damaged as well by the accident.
So it looks like my options come down to these:
- Get insurance involved. This will cost my dad the $500 deductible, and may cause his insurance premium to rise.
- Avoid going through insurance. This means I will have to get an estimate of the damage and deal directly with my dad to have him pay for the damage to the car. It will most likely cost more up front, but would avoid a premium increase and any record of the accident on his insurance.
- Go at it alone. I could get an estimate of the damage and pay for it myself.
Family dynamics are different for everyone. Some people treat all situations, family or not, as business and they won’t hesitate to damage a relationship strictly on principle. Others believe family is all we have and one should do everything they can to nurture family relationships, putting this above all else.
I’m somewhere in the middle and could really use some advice about the situation. What would you do if you were in my shoes?
Image by Kevin H.