When I was reversing, I accidentally scratched a woman's car. The scratch is around 15cm long and 0.5cm wide. The scratch is not a really a scratch since my car's paint was simply just scraped off onto hers.

So I suggested to her to trying polishing or buffing it off. But she demands strongly to go a full bumper paint job which can cost a lot for someone like me that just started working full time. She's a senior employee working in the same company as me so it is hard for me to ignore her.

I just don't understand why is she overreacting so much. I know its her right to get me to compensate for the paint job but it is such a petty scratch that can be polished away.

It's just a minor scratch and both of us are not looking to using our insurance here because the repair cost won't be worth the paperwork and time spent on dealing with it.

So, I don't see why I have to pay for a full bumper paint job. How do I convince her?

Edit: After negotiating nicely with her, she tried polishing the bumper first and she was satisfied with the final results! Thank you guys for the kind advice :)

  • 53
    What country are you in? I'm asking because where I live auto insurance is mandatory, and you pay them to negotiate these things for you.
    – apaul
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 6:27
  • 3
    "Edit: After negotiating nicely with her, she tried polishing the bumper first and she was satisfied with the final results! Thank you guys for the kind advice :)" __ see the power of interpersonal skills!! You are most welcome; congratulations on getting a nice outcome; thanks for informing us how the matter turned out, which we are often eager to know but not many users do update here; and we are always glad to help you @user107257. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 1:59
  • 2
    @apaul auto insurance is mandatory here in the US, but that doesn't mean you call the insurance company every time your car gets a scratch. That's how insurance rates go up. As our OP here discovered, a little bit of polite negotiation resulted in a satisfactory outcome for both parties, with no insurance company involved and no rate hikes for anyone :)
    – Doktor J
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 15:08

7 Answers 7


Well, having been in a situation where I damaged both my parents' car and someone else's: first of all, show some understanding. You just damaged someone's car, people can be very proud of their cars. Tell her you're sorry if you haven't already. Don't think of her reaction as 'overreaction'. She probably just wants her car back the way it was and if she's never had car damage before, she won't know what's needed to get her car back to its original state.

Don't go telling her 'oh, that's a minor thing, we can just polish this away'. A 15 cm long, 0.5 cm wide 'scratch' might very well look worse than it is to someone that's proud of their car. Instead, tell her you will do everything you can to make this right. Feel free to suggest polishing if you have experience with repairing car damage.

If you're not an expert in repairing cars, she won't take your word for it. She'll just think you're trying to handle this as cheaply as possible, and that the cheap solution might be forever visible on her precious car.

Don't go telling her that you're only willing to pay for the polishing away... because that doesn't sound like you want to do everything you can.

  • its just a minor scratch and both of us are not looking to using our insurance here
  • the repair cost won't be worth the paperwork and time spent on dealing with it.. It is a really petty scratch but yet she's going so overboard

I nicked this from the comments. As said above, tell her that you will do everything you can to make this right.

At the same time, you don't have money to help her have the full bumper paint job she wants/might need. So, state the facts.

It's best that you get the insurance company involved here, whether you want it or not. YOU can't pay for the repairs she might need, at the same time, she doesn't think the scratch is minor and doesn't want to try the cheap solution first.

Get the insurance involved, have them assess the damage and pay for the repairs. So contact them right now. If you wait until the receipt comes in, they might well decline it because it's for more than was necessary.

Right now you're saying that YOU think the damage is minor, and not worth the time/effort. Will it have been worth the time/effort once she decides that the cheap solution wasn't enough, that she still can see a little spot, and decides to get who-knows-who involved to get her right, the full paint job she wants?

The insurance company certainly isn't going to pay for expensive repairs if things can be solved cheaply.

The insurance company has experts that can decide whether this is really minor or needs more expensive repairs.

You are insured so that when such things happen, you don't have to pay for expensive repairs out of your own pocket.

If the insurance company decides she isn't getting the expensive repair but the cheap one, she'll have to fight the insurance company if this isn't enough, not you.

Seriously, if you want to show you'll do anything you can do to make things right, don't go refusing to get the insurance company involved. Get the time and the paperwork and just do it. You damaged someone's property, it's up to you to make it right.


So you damaged someone's property, and now you're haggling about how you have to make up that damage?

This is probably the frame that she is seeing this in.

Lets review:

  • You don't think it's a big deal (from your perspective)
  • You don't want to get insurance involved (because you don't want to spend time on paperwork)
  • You don't think she needs a bumper paint job to get it fixed

In her situation, this comes across as:

  1. This guy damaged my car
  2. Now he's refusing to make up for it
  3. Not even because he can't afford it, but because he's too lazy to fill out paperwork(!)

So, you could probably understand why she's this upset.

Aside from the interpersonal problem here, you don't know why she wants a full bumper paintjob. It could be this is anti-rust paint and just painting over an area will compromise the integrity of that. It could be she really likes her car and wants it to be fully restored again. You don't know that.

I suggest talking to her and listening to her concerns about why she needs that bumper job and then just biting the bullet and either paying for it or getting that paperwork done.


Please consider this: - Her car was perfect before - Because you broke it, she will have to lose time by taking it to a repair shop

You not only broke her car, but you also inflicted time penalties upon her.

Consider yourself in her position: Some random person hit your car. That person doesn't want to fully fix the damage, just to pay for a spit and shine. However, this means either you accept the proposed repair-person (or break-more-than-it-fix-person) suggested by the one that broke your car, or you search on your own time for a repair place, wait until they can take care of you. Even a "small" scratch might mean a day without the car, which add additional hardship (transportation from garage to work and back, time at work that must be taken off).

So, even a small scratch might mean half a day lost for her. And you pile insult to injury by proposing a cheap (as in quality) fix.

By the way, if a car is not new, even a perfectly matched paint now will age differently compared to the original paint, so in a couple of years there might be visible difference (or the difference might be visible now). And if the car is not new, there original paint might not be so shiny, so there will be a difference of reflexivity (glossy/matte).


It seems pretty reasonable to try the easiest solution first. If you really don't want to involve your insurance company, offer to pay to have the scratch buffed out, and mention that if that doesn't work to her satisfaction that you will bite the bullet and pay for the paint.

Make sure that the car is taken to reputable body shop. Make it clear that you're willing to pay, but that you'll need to see the estimate/bill from the shop. This will eliminate the possibility of her picking a number and asking you to pay a lot more than is really necessary. It's worth mentioning that replacing the bumper with a used one from a scrap yard may be cheaper than repainting, depending on the make and model. (A reputable body shop will think about this, if it's a good option)

If this isn't ok with her it sounds like you pay what she's asking, or you hand it off to your insurance company, or hire a lawyer. (I don't recommend that last option.)

Realistically your best option is to let your insurance company do what you're paying them to do. They have experienced professionals who know how to handle these things properly and the possible raise in your insurance rate will probably end up being a lot less than what you'll end up paying out in time, money, and aggravation.

  • 6
    "It seems pretty reasonable to try the easiest solution first. If you really don't want to involve your insurance company, offer to pay to have the scratch buffed out, and mention that if that doesn't work to her satisfaction that you will bite the bullet and pay for the paint." __ solid advice indeed @apaul but OP might end up paying for both polishing and repainting, though there is also a good chance the lady will be satisfied with the polishing results. There is a bit of psychology here, that once OP pays for the polishing the woman might not insist he pay for the repainting as well! Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 12:50
  • The easiest solution is likely to hide any bigger problems without fixing them, so I would find that totally unacceptable.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 1:10
  • @gnasher729 would that differ from painting the bumper, and would a reputable body shop know that upon inspecting the vehicle?
    – apaul
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 1:13

This happened to me before, so here's how I handled it. Although my case was a bit different: my GF was driving my car and made a tiny scratch on someone else's brand new ride. We'll call this person "X"...

Anyway. Since my GF was a penniless student and rather shy, I was handed the hot potato.

Problem with insurance is: if I had handed the case to my insurance, my premiums would have increased. Thus it was more financially sound not to involve the insurance.

Get into a problem-solving mindset: take pictures of the bumper, search for shops who can do the job, email them the pictures, and get a quotation. After all, you break it, you fix it. It's your problem.

This also allows you to stay in control. For example, when this happened, X went to their usual garage which is known around here to milk people for the max amount of cash they can get away with. Of course, they wanted to replace the entire bumper, simply because it is the most profitable option for them.

So, I took X to a more honest shop where the guys simply did a nice paint and buff job for 1/4th the price of the first one.

This is really the take-home point here: you should take care of finding a shop and overseeing the repairs, not just because it's the right thing to do since you caused the damage, but also because you're the payer, so you should make sure you don't get gouged on the price.

In my case, it took a little bit of convincing. X grumbled at first. So I offered her options: I would either pay for the paint job... or I would pay for my GF's lawyer and grab some popcorn. That did the trick. In your case you have no such leverage, so the best would be to be nice and offer to help!


So you damaged her car and are responsible, neither of you want to go to the insurance company.

  • You could offer to try to fix it yourself (polish it out). She is under no obligation to accept this offer. If I was her I'd refuse; I wouldn't want someone without experience or insurance working on my car, would you?
  • You could offer what you feel is fair financial compensation. Then she can get it repaired or keep the cash as she sees fit. You would want a written agreement that this resolves the situation and removes your liability. She would want agreement that it only covers the paint damage (encase further damage is discovered). Again she isn't under any obligation to accept this.
  • She could make a request for payment that she feels fair (with the same caveats as above). You aren't under any obligation to accept if you feel this is unfair.

It sounds like you have exhausted these options and can't agree on a fair price. You remaining options are:

  • She can drop the claim (why would she?)
  • Give her your insurance details and walk away, she can contact her insurers and sort it out.
  • Alternatively get her insurers details and inform your insurers so they can sort it out
  • She can take legal action which you would refer to your insurers (this would probably cost more)

As it stands the two of you can't agree a fair settlement, so unless she is willing to drop her claim (and if you don't get this in writing it could bite you in the future) then go to the insurers. Its what they are there for, sure it may cost you more in the future but covers you legally and will keep her happy.


I think you should only contact the insurance if you cannot afford the paint job. In any case, you should talk to her before you contact the insurance. You scratched her car and must make up for it.

In some countries, when you have an accident like this on private property (you did not say where the accident took place, I assume on company grounds (car park)), blame is shared.

If you contact your insurance, your insurance would contact hers if blame is shared and both you and her might have increased insurance fees later. Imagine, not only have you scratched her bumper and she has to leave a her car at a garage for repairs, her insurance fees might increase as well when it clearly was not her fault.

Talk to her. Offer to polish the scratch off and do your best to get the job done properly, invest time ... if you cannot, offer to have the scratch polished off by a professional, say you will pay for the paint job if the scratch shows after that ... tell her you just started fulltime and would really like to avoid paying for a full bumper paint job ... I am sure she will understand.

Lesson learned: when you reverse, pay attention to the property of others!

  • "...tell her you just started fulltime and would really like to avoid paying for a full bumper paint job ... I am sure she will understand." __ really good suggestion @thecarpy, because OP (being at fault here) needs to be humble and depends on her to understand his position and be kind to him in this matter! Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 12:54
  • yeah, I'm sure she'll understand a guy is rich enough to afford a car, but is not willing to pay the full price for the damages he has made...
    – user3406
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 14:52
  • @9ilsdx9rvj0lo One moment: We do not know what type of car this is and I never instructed op not to pay, only, avoid insurance if the above law (both share blame) applies, in any case, ask her before contacting the insurance. Furthermore, he can try to get the bumper fixed cheaper, provided she is OK with that ... however, it might end up costing more if the scratch still shows and paint job is due ... You can get crap cars cheaper than a full bumper paint job in some countries ...
    – thecarpy
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 15:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.