Getting into a car accident can cause even the most experienced driver to become very shaken up. If you’re not at fault, the other driver may try to pay you cash for your repairs, in exchange for not reporting the incident to your insurance company. Although this may seem reasonable at the time, it comes with significant risks that often make it a bad decision.
No Injury Coverage
Injuries from car accidents don’t always appear right away. After the initial impact, you’re often flustered and in shock, so you may not even notice an injury such as whiplash or back pain until later that day or even a few days later. If you don’t report the accident to your insurance company, you’ll be left to pay all your medical bills out-of-pocket, instead of having some or all of it paid by the insurance company of the driver at fault.
No Guarantee on Repairs
Insurance companies often have a contract with auto repair shops to provide work at a discounted price and guarantee all repairs. If you don’t go through your insurance company, you won’t get the guarantee on the work. If something goes wrong with a repair, you’ll have to pay up again to have it fixed.
Lack of Rental Coverage
Although cash from the driver who hit your car may pay for the damage, it won’t get you a rental car to drive while your car is being repaired. If you opted for rental coverage on your car insurance policy, you won’t be able to use it unless you report the accident to your insurer.
Risk of Not Receiving Full Funding
There’s no way to tell the extent of the damage done to your car at the scene of the accident. A mechanic needs to evaluate the vehicle to provide an estimate of the total cost for the work done. If you accept cash at the scene from the other driver, it may not be enough to cover the damage. Even if the person gives you contact information in case the damage costs more than he paid you, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to track him down again.
Dishonest Driver Could Sue You
Taking cash from another driver and not reporting the accident could make you the target of an insurance fraud scam. A dishonest driver could hit your car, persuade you not to report the accident and go ahead and file a police report after leaving the scene. You would then appear guilty for not reporting it yourself, which could lead to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident. If you didn’t report the accident to your insurance company, it will be difficult for them to collect the necessary evidence needed to prove your innocence.
- Nolo: Do I Need To Report a Minor Car Accident?
- InsuranceHotline.com: Deal or No Deal
- Geico: Got in a Car Accident? Now What?
- Coalition Against Insurance Fraud: Staged Auto Crashes
- California DMV. "California Driver Handbook - Handling Emergencies." Accessed March 24, 2020.
- Esurance. "The Blame Game: How Fault Is Determined After a Car Accident." Accessed March 24, 2020.
- State of Michigan. "Vehicle Damage Report." Accessed March 24, 2020.
Laura Woods is a Los Angeles-based writer with more than six years of marketing experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.