Why you shouldn’t take cash at the scene of a car crash

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By Amy Danise

If you’ve ever felt a bump from behind while driving and heard that sickening crunch, you know what it feels like to realize that someone has just rear-ended you. And that means coping with the hassle of getting the other driver’s information, putting your car in the shop and dealing with an auto insurance company.

So if the damage to your car looks minimal and the other driver offers to quickly settle the matter by giving you cash on the spot, you might be tempted to take the money and try to put the whole thing behind you.

That’s a bad idea, for at least three reasons:

• People are generally terrible at estimating repair costs — even for damage that is easily visible.

• There can be hidden or structural damage.

• You could have injuries and not realize it right away.

“Never accept cash on the spot for anything,” says Mike Ludeman, owner of Western Auto Body, a repair shop in Sebastopol, Calfornia. He says people routinely underestimate the cost of repairs after a collision. One broken taillight, for example, can cost $300 because the entire assembly needs to be replaced.

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