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Don’t use social media to settle accident


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Question: My husband and I were sitting at a red light and got rear-ended. The other driver provided her insurance information; however, we found out from the company listed on her card that she no longer had a policy there. I don't feel we should have to file a collision claim and pay our deductible since we weren’t at fault.  I found the at-fault driver on Facebook; should I confront there? What advice do you have to get this resolved?  

Answer: I would advise against confronting the other driver publicly on Facebook or any other social media format. 

Calling the other driver out publicly on Facebook isn’t likely to elicit help from her or allow you to figure out how to resolve the issue. Instead, such actions may put her on the defensive.

The other driver could not only fail to communicate with you but could change her story about how the accident happened and put the blame on you.  And if you hound her on Facebook she could possibly say you’re harassing her.  (See “It’s not social media – it’s evidence.”) 

Your insurance company has a process for recovering damages for at-fault drivers, and it is more likely to be successful at it than you are. The catch is, you have to file a collision claim first.

Here are your options:

Contact the at-fault driver privately

Trying to have a mature discussion over the phone or through private e-mails is more likely to get the other driver to give you correct information about her true situation.

If you don’t have a phone number or other means in which to reach the driver, you can privately message her on Facebook to try to resolve the issue.

First, see if she gave you the wrong insurance information.  It may be possible that she had insurance with a different provider at the time of the accident but didn’t put the new card in her vehicle.  Or, it could be that she is indeed uninsured. 

If you find that the driver did have a different car insurance policy in effect at the time of the accident, then that’s great news.  You can put in your claim for your car’s damage with the driver’s property damage liability coverage.

How to pay for repairs when at-fault driver is uninsured

If the other driver was uninsured or doesn’t respond to your request to discuss the accident and resulting damage you want her to pay for, then you have a couple of choices.

You can ask the other person to pay personally for the damage she caused to your vehicle.

Working with a person, especially one who already seems unreliable since she couldn’t keep her insurance up-to-date could be a risk. If she offers to pay on her own, she will likely ask for at least three estimates, and you will have to continue to communicate with her until the car is fixed and repair bill is paid.

Besides the time you’re expending for this option, the other downside is that the other driver may not follow through.  You could end up taking her to court to pay.

Another option is to pay for the damage yourself. 

Yes, you did nothing wrong and it’s unfair that you are stuck with the damage, but if the other person is uninsured and the damage is under your collision deductible amount or you really don’t want to make the claim, then you could just choose to pay for the damage and let it go. 

If the damage if minor and cost a few hundred dollars, you may find paying out-of-pocket and moving on is better for your situation than making a claim or spending the time and effort it’ll take to get the at-fault party to pay.

The easy button: Use your insurance company

Though you don’t like the idea of using your own collision insurance, it may be the easiest way to get your car repaired.

By using collision coverage, you can put in a claim with your own insurer, go to a repair shop and get the repairs done.  You will have to pay your deductible, but this option puts your auto insurer in charge of going after the at-fault driver.  It will want to recoup what it pays out for your claim and can also seek money from the driver to repay your collision deductible. 

There is no guarantee that your car insurance company will recoup its money, or yours, but if you don’t have the time and energy to hound the at-fault party or take her to court to pay for repairs, it’s a good choice.

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