Honesty is the best policy?


I’m a cautious driver.

Having a child will do that to you.

I hate tailgaters and am scrupulous about never falling in to that silly, dangerous habit.

I try very hard to always stay below or no more than at the speed limit pertaining to wherever I am driving. And if I do find myself speeding, I am quick to slow down.

I am regularly appalled at the speeds so many people – including parents with children on board – travel through signposted school areas.

But I do have an achilles heel – I can get a tad absentminded when backing out of the driveway.

So it was earlier this week when I backed out and very gently bumped the driver’s door of the car of one of my neighbours with my rear bumper bar.

His car is not a recent model, but it is in sparkling, pristine, immaculate, shining condition.

But I was going at considerably less than walking pace.

The damage was about as little as is possible. About 10cm of scuffed paintwork, a slight indentation.

I went about my business for a few hours, mulling the situation over.

To ‘fess up or not?

In the end, I did what I was always going to do – and told my neighbour of my mishap involving his vehicle.

He was crestfallen, but goodwill seemed to win the day. After some consideration, though, he did maintain he wanted the damage rectified, as the reason he’d bought his car in the first place was its near-perfect condition.

We amiably compared notes on our different but equally financially fragile lives.

He said he’d get back to me after making some phone calls and talking to some people.

He got back to me this afternoon … and the news is rotten.

He’s talked to a couple of panelbeaters, and both our insurance companies – and it seems the minimum it’s going to cost to put the damage right is $1400.

My “excess” is $750 – so I’m going to be $750 out of pocket in terms cold, hard cash, not to mention whatever my insurance company penalises me in terms of no-claim status and so on.

All this for damage so minimal that it defied my very best efforts to photograph it.

I’m angry …

Angry at what seems like a cartel-like scam job between insurance companies and panelbeaters. It seems ridiculous to me that this sort of damage costs more than quite significant mechanical or electrical servicing and repairs.

Yes, I know labour costs are high … but still.

I did the right thing – and in the long-term I’ll no doubt be glad about that.

But in the short-term, it sucks.

At least our new home doesn’t have driveway for me to back out of – our car is now parked on the street.

14 thoughts on “Honesty is the best policy?

  1. That’s so infuriating, Kenny, and I bet it is a scam job between insurance companies and panel beaters. Last year, for the first time in my life, I went to third-party only insurance. I’m saving at least $500 a year. That reminds me of another beef I have regarding car insurance: why do they put my insurance up every year when every year my car gets older and is worth less? It’s now nearly 20 years old, still a great car (Honda Integra V-tech or “R”), but not worth paying premium insurance on. If I were paying premium insurance and anything happened, I bet an insurance company would give me $2000 (probably less because it would be minus the excess) and write it off anyway.


  2. That’s a real stinker – but good on you. What goes around comes around. I remember my mother telling me of one of my aunts who had 11 kids. She hit someone’s unattended car with her door once in a parking lot. Some of her kids were with her and despite the obvious multitude of pressures on the family budget, she left a note on the windscreen with her details. The owner called to say he was so impressed with her honesty that she shouldn’t worry about it. I know that didn’t happen to you (and nor should we expect it) but it’s certainly a reminder that honesty is the best policy – whether it’s repaid to us in the moment or in the future!


    • Yes, all true. But I can’t say I wasn’t tempted! And there’s been quite a few times in the past where I have either forgiven and forgotten, or BEEN forgiven, similarly small damage. But you’re right – it’s nothing to automatically expect.


  3. Yeah, it can be painful, I recently hit an emu during a photographic trip to photograph an old homestead in outback SA. Cost me $550 excess and $200 for a hire car whilst the job was done. I spent $600 on petrol and accommodation so all up it cost $1300 to take a picture of the homestead. Anyway I thought it was worth it Kenny, I’ll post the pic on facebook so you can have a look at it. Well done for your honesty mate.


    • Hi Bill! And welcome to Consider The Sauce! What you think of my pikkshas? Not bad, IMHO, for a washed-up sub-editor using a $400 point-and-shoot camera! Well, that’s what I reckon anyway … šŸ™‚


  4. Try getting a quote from a panel beaters yourself kenny, telling them you’re not going through your insurance company. You may get a very different outcome. I have used the one in barkly st near Gordon st and got a very reasonable price when it was me paying for it.


  5. Definitely get quotes yourself and check out the advisability of claiming on your insurance policy for a small amount. If you have to pay a higher premium next year for making a claim, it may not be worth it.


  6. You have my sympathy. I was very nearly in the same position only the person whose car I scraped never got around to getting a quote–had me worried for a while though. Have you considered making a cash offer? Perhaps your neighbour could learn to live with what sounds like very minor damage to his precious car.


    • Hi Christie! Nope! No such luck. I damaged his car, it will be fixed and I will pay for it. What’s more, it will be done entirely on his terms, as this afternoon he rejected my overtures about getting an independent quote or working outside the insurance companies.

      I’ve had a bonzer day – met some ace people, had some hot food etc etc – so the whole things seems less aggravating than it did … life goes on.


  7. Update: It’s now in the hands of our respective insurance companies. I was sort of looking forward to the return of the bond dollars from our previous abode (minus cleaning fee) as a “sort of” windfall. But at least it covers my excess. And my neighbour and I are friends again, having just had a food-based chinwag, Life goes on …


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