Do you know what to do when someone dings your car door, and how to get them or their insurance company to pay for repairs?

upset woman in carSeveral months ago, a client asked me to come to his work location in San Ramon to fix a large door ding his wife’s sporty black Scion. His insurance company had recommended me as a preferred provider, and I was able to repair the ugly dent quickly, flawlessly, and at no cost to the client.

I thought I would share this story to illustrate what what to do when someone dings your car door so that you may not have to pay out of pocket for repairs.

This particular client had been to dinner in San Ramon with his wife after work. They finished their dinner and returned to the car, where the client immediately spotted a sizeable ding in the passenger side door that he knew had not been there when he closed the car door to go into the restaurant. There was a small streak of white paint in the ding, which clearly showed against the shiny black paint of the Scion.

The client then looked at the white mini van parked next to his car. He remembered that the van was parked in a spot that had been empty when he had parked his wife’s car. He noticed that the van was parked hapharzadly, at an angle, and crossing the line into his parking spot, leaving little room for the van’s passenger door to open.

It was obvious to the client that the mini van’s occupants were responsible for the door ding in the otherwise showroom-condition Scion. So he began taking photos of the dent, the van’s position relative to the Scion, and the van’s license plate–just in case.

He and his wife then decided to wait for the van’s owner to return to the car after dinner.

About 15 minutes after the client and his wife decided to sit and wait in their car, a family of a mom, grandma, and two children came out of the restaurant and walked toward the mini van. My client and his wife got out of their damaged car, and calmly approached the family. My client asked the woman walking to the driver’s side of the van, “Were you aware that someone in your van dented our Scion?”

The woman darted a glance down at her son, who had gasped and covered his mouth with his hands. She looked up and said, “I’m sorry. My son wasn’t paying attention, and he banged his door into yours.” My client calmly replied that those things do happen sometimes. He smiled at the boy gently, and then quietly, but firmly asked the woman for her insurance information. The woman balked at this, apparently regretting her admission of guilt, but it was too late. My client informed her that he had photographed the damage and her vehicle license plate, and suggested that they call the police to resolve the issue, so the woman gave the client her insurance information and phone number.

Long story short, my client was able to get the other party’s insurance company to pay for repairing the car door ding in full. He and the insurance company both chose to have PDR (paintless dent removal) service instead of using traditional body shop repair methods because the cost for my to repair the dent was far less than a body shop would have charged. The client did not need a rental vehicle while leaving the car in the shop, as I was able to go to his work location in San Ramon and fix the dent in about half an hour. And the vehicle was literally restored to a flawless, factory finish–that’s especially important on a black car, which tends to show every tiny scratch and dent.

I hope this helps you to know what to do if someone dents or dings your car–even when their vehicle is not in motion. You do have rights, and if you approach the situation as sensibly as my client did, you may be able to get the other person’s insurance company to pay for repairs in full, with no out-of pocket expenses for you. If you are not able to contact the vehicle owner, or they do not admit guilt, you may still be able to collect. Take as many clear photos (with time and date stamps) as you can to document the damage, the location, and the vehicle that damaged yours, including the license plates. Ask any witnesses to sign statements and give you their contact information. Then call your insurance company as soon as possible. If you can call your insurance company from the scene of where the damage occurred, this may help them to advise you better.

UPDATE — We asked insurance agent, Leslie Wolf of Pleasanton, to expand on this subject from her industry experience point of view, and here is what she told us:

In the state of California, insurance goes with the car, no matter who is driving. Points and liability goes with the driver.

Is the deductible ever waived? The deductible depends on who is at fault, whose insurance are you going through and whether you have a deductible. It also depends on whether both parties are insured by the same insurance company, in which case the deductibles might be waived.

If you know who damaged your car and you go through their insurance, you will not have to pay for your deductible. However, if you DO NOT know who damaged your car and you go through your insurance company, then you are subject to your deductible.

Does insurance pay if you don’t know who dinged your door? Or is it not covered, like a hit-and-run?  Yes, your insurance will pay for your car to be repaired even if you DO NOT know who dinged your car, as long as you are carrying collision Insurance on your car and the cost of repairs exceed your deductible.

Hit-and-runs are covered the same as above.

What type of policy covers door dings? Your auto insurance policy covers door dings as long as you have collision, and coverage is subject to your deductible. A lot of times it is not worth going through insurance for door dings. It’s often better to go through a dent repair service like Diablo Dents.

Any advice for your insurance customers? For minor issues, try to get a quote first before you put in a claim with your insurance company. For minor dings, a dent repair company is a lot more reasonable than the dealership or a body repair shop.

Do you have a client story related to parking lot door dings? Unfortunately, door dings happen on a daily basis. Parking spaces have gotten smaller and vehicles bigger. Most people do not do it on purpose.

Do door ding claims count as a point? Yes, it could count as a point for the person that caused the damage if the cost of repairs exceeds $1,000. The person’s car that was parked will not receive a point, because they are not at fault for the accident.

Is there a law if you dent a parked car and don’t leave a note?  Yes. If someone sees you do damage to another vehicle or personal property and you don’t leave a note with your contact information, you could get a knock on your door from the police and be charged with a hit and run.

If you would like Diablo Dents to come to your home or office to repair your vehicle’s dents and dings, phone 925.462.1200 or email chris@diablodents.com us today to make an appointment. We work with all major insurance carriers.