To Repair or Not To Repair?

by Jimmy Akin

in Moral Theology

A correspondent writes:

On May 4th of this year, the electrician servicing my parish backed his truck into my parked car. The damage appeared minor, but two estimates for repair came up with the same amount, $1518.00. The electrician’s insurance company mailed this amount to me, plus $150.00 for a rental car.
The car is old, the damage is minor, and the money would be helpful to clear up debts. Would it be an ethical
issue, if I opted not to have the repair done at this time? I would return the $150.00 for car rental to the insurance company.

The money that the insurance company sent you is yours to do with as you wish. This includes the money for the rental car. You can use the money on anything you want. That is why they sent you money rather than a voucher for car repair and a voucher for a rental car. The money is to compensate you for the damage and the trouble you have incurred by the accident, and if you choose to live with the damage and use your compensation on something other than car repair and car rental, that is your business.

You have no obligation to use the money in any particular way, so do with it whatever seems best to you, including the $150 for the rental car. People spend their insurance settlements on other stuff all the time, and if you tried to return any of it, it would probably only confuse the insurance company, and they might well return the check to you again.

Hope this helps, and God bless!

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Anne July 2, 2004 at 10:23 am

I agree with Jimmy. This happened to us some years ago when we were young and impecunious – someone damaged our car (can’t remember how or why) and we were sent something like $500.00 by the insurance company. Since the car was an old beater and not really worth pouring more money into, we used it to catch up on our bills. The car ran a little longer and eventually died a natural death.

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