So you may have heard that I have a $1701 check written out to me from Geico that’s causing me lots of grief lately.

Three weeks ago now, I was rear ended by a dunderheaded lummox and it destroyed a tail light and did some cosmetic damage to the rear bumper of my 2004 Land Rover.

Now, what I keep telling myself to do is to sign the check over to the local auto body place and have them take care of everything and give me a brand new looking car in a few days…

That would make me smile.

But I’ve also got dollar signs in my eyes…

See, this is an 8-year old vehicle. Sure, the mileage is low (60k), but it’s still an 8-year old car.

The Kelly Blue Book value is somewhere between $5k and $6k which, in reality, means I’d only get maybe $4k for it in a trade-in whether the bumper is damaged or not.

That said, it drives like a charm and it’s not ready to be traded in. Simply put, even with a damaged bumper, I still think it has plenty of life left.

Let’s say I’m fortunate enough to get another 40k miles out of it…

Now we’re theoretically talking about a 10+ year old vehicle with 100k miles on it.

Does relatively minor cosmetic damage have much of an impact on the trade-in value of a car at the end of its lifespan?

Probably not…

So, with that in mind, would it be financially wise to dump $1700 worth of cosmetic repairs into it?

In this instance, I think my mind is all but made up…

I foresee a considerable drop in my credit card balance in the near future… or a super wicked awesome first birthday party for Henrik… courtesy of Geico.

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For the record, I own this car free and clear. No lienholders in the mix to coddle so please save me the ethics lecture. I don’t like it either but apparently this is how the system works.

I’m also about 80% sure I can replace and repair the tail light myself for under $100.

For an additional $7 (to buy the special plastic clips), I can re-attach the bumper trim piece too…

A $107 repair job is “good enough”.


  1. Deposit the check make the cheap repair do something for yourself and a tiny nice party for the one year old bank whatever is left over even if it is a small amount for the child start his college fund!

    I repaired a vehicle that had over $3,000 worth of damage and at the time I did not even realize I had the choice to bank the money and not make the repair that same vehicle brought about $2,800 just months later so I lost some cash on that deal.

    Even if there are only a few dollars left over if you bank it for the one year old to start a college fund it will be money well saved.

  2. Cash it! There is no moral/ethical dilemma in my opinion.

    And take the time to call your insurance company over and over until they make the required corrections to show you as not at fault. This is by no means a win until your rates go unaffected. I had a similar issue about 18 months ago. I filed with my provider out of convenience as well as because the other driver was an 18-wheeler and I felt I might get jerked around by a commercial provider. It took me nearly eight months to get the incident marked in all “check boxes” (according to an agent) and databases as not at fault or no negligence with my provider. …DESPITE the fact that they waived my deductible because I met all requirements, one of those conditions being absolutely not a shadow of doubt regarding fault.


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