Family debate: isn't this reasonable?

There’s a feud brewing in a branch of my family. Three years ago, over my sister’s objections, her former mother-in-law bought my nephew a brand new car (Hyundai hatchback). My sister felt he wasn’t responsible enough yet and should get some old beater like most kids, but her ex and his mom went ahead anyway.

Last month, though he wasn’t hurt and not at fault, the car was totaled. My sister apparently had trouble convincing him to pay for his own insurance(he’s been working all this time), so she’s been covering him under her policy. The foofaraw is she’s keeping the insurance payout. Her son is on the bus, and somewhat salty. Her ex’s family sees this (somehow) as her co-opting grandma’s gift for a cash grab. The nephew wants another new car with the payout, but he’s just being an idiot and we can ignore that. They’re all doing that thing where they alternate between not speaking and just yelling.

My idea? My sister keeps the money she’s paid in premiums, which can’t have been cheap for full coverage on a teen male driving a new car, and gives him the rest to do what she wanted in the first place - get some cheap beater he can slap liability on and drive to school and work and the spirit of grandma’s gift - him with his own car - is kept alive. She gets to be smug and smart for anticipating all this, and can use that to leverage them into accepting the solution and getting genius to pay for his own insurance going forward.

Her attitude is that no one’s going to be 100% happy with that solution, so why not make herself 100% happy and they’ll get over it someday?

Fuck that. She paid the insurance, she gets the payout and the rest of them can go pound sand.

The only person she should be considering negotiating with is her son and frankly, he crashed a car that he was not interested in insuring so he’s not going to be bargaining from a position of strength. If he’s working, he can get his own cheap beater to slap liability on.

Here’s the fly in the ointment:

“My sister apparently had trouble convincing him to pay for his own insurance…”

“Convincing him” should not have come into it. That car should have stayed parked until he could buy his own insurance for it. Non-negotiable.

Mom should reimburse herself for insurance she bought, let him buy a beater with the rest of the money (that must have been some payout!), and that car should stay parked until he can buy his own insurance for it.

Or maybe he can convince grandma or dad to buy his insurance.


She can keep whatever it cost her for the insurance. The rest belongs to the kid.

They should have discussed the possibilities beforehand. “I’ll pay for your insurance so you can legally drive, but if there’s a claim, the $$ is mine.”

I’m assuming the car is paid off, so the title is clear? Otherwise the bank is going to want their money first.

The entire reason for insurance is to make one whole after a loss, not to reward one. By regaining the premiums she paid, your sister is certainly made whole, so keeping the rest of the money is pretty much a dick move on her part.

Even keeping the premiums is a little unclear too - if nephew had not had an accident, and had eventually started buying his own insurance, would your sister have requested he pay her back for the premiums she paid over the past 3 years?

Yeahbut, mom is not out just the cost of premiums, but also any effect on her own cost to insure herself.

What would he have if she hadn’t paid insurance? Nothing, possibly debt or worse. So what should he get from the payout? Nothing.

If Grandma wanted him to have a brand new car and he wasn’t willing to pay the insurance, Grandma should have been paying it.

Kid sounds like an entitled brat to me. “I wanna drive a new car, but I don’t want to pay for insurance. Oh, but I want the insurance money my mom paid for me!”

All this should have been resolved when the car was first given as a gift, rather than waiting for things to come to a head now. Going to disagree with others and say:

  • Son gets the full payout, Mom gets nothing. Son can do what he wants with the money.
  • Mom stops paying for insurance coverage going forward. Mom does not assist Son with buying a new car; Son buys what he can afford with the money he has available. Son can pay of insurance himself if he to buy a replacement car and drive. Doubly-so since he’s employed.

The gift was from mother-in-law to kid, so I don’t feel it’s appropriate for the kid’s Mom to just keep part or all of the insurance payout. Granted, it’s pretty crappy move to give the kid a gift that a parent strongly disapproves of, but what’s done is done.

I also don’t feel it’s okay for the Mom to agree (however reluctantly) to pay for the kid’s insurance, and then later say “I didn’t really want to do it, so I’m retroactively deciding not to pay; give me my money back.” That said, Mom is also under no obligation to cover the kid’s insurance, especially on a potential car she does not approve of.

If the kid or grandma had wanted a say in how insurance payouts were distributed, they should have been writing monthly checks for all or part of the insurance for the car, full stop.

If the ex-mil wanted him to have the car then she should have paid for the insurance, and all repairs and maintenance as well. Buying the kid a gift and then dumping the responsibility and expense of that gift onto the mother was a dickass move.

The mother should have told them from the start that she would not be responsible for anything related to the car.

If the check is in the mother’s name, it’s her money to do what she wants.

If the others don’t like it, sucks to be them.
The mother asked them not to do it, they didn’t respect her wishes and then dumped the expense on her? Fuck them.

Tell 'em to go on Judge Judy. :smiley:

Seriously, though, the kid got a free car on Grandma’s dime, got free insurance on Mom’s dime because he refused to dip into his own pockets, so IMHO he’s not entitled to a share of the payout because he paid nothing into it.

In the interest of family harmony, however, I think your compromise is the best solution. Let him buy a clunker with his share along with his own liability coverage or else he doesn’t get to drive it, and if he wants something better he can darn well save up his money like the rest of us who didn’t have indulgent grandmas, and get off my lawn, confound it! :wink:

I agree with this entirely. Mom screwed up by paying for the insurance, and/or not taking additional steps to prevent this foreseeable situation. (No mention of how old the son is. I was offered 2 used cars when in HS, but didn’t accept either because I couldn’t afford the insurance.) IMO the mom’s failure to take reasonable steps in the past limits her options at this point. IMO certainly makes it inappropriate for her to enrich herself from the situation.

Of course, sounds like this family has some pretty fucked up dynamics. However she responds to this situation won’t resolve that. But I can pretty much guarantee that mom keeping the proceeds is likely the option that will piss off everyone else the most. If that is her goal, that is what she ought to do!

If it doesn’t belong to mom, then it certainly doesn’t belong to the kid. The balance should go to grandma, if anyone- she’s the one who bought the car, disagreement notwithstanding.

A lot of people consider that the very definition of a compromise.

Sometimes it’s better to voluntarily give up some of your rights in order to keep the peace. Whether this is one of those times is something that she’ll have to decide.

Granny gave the car the car to the kid, so it belongs to the kid, in my opinion. Whatever is left after the mom is paid back for insurance, should go to the boy for a new car.

I’m not clear on the circumstances then. I thought the car was a gift. If not then grandma does get the money.

I think the OP’s idea is the right one. She should take a cut for all the premiums she’s paid and then give him the rest. The payout for the car isn’t money she’s earned so I don’t see her entitled to any of it (although obviously, it’s legal for her to keep it).

If the car had been wrecked due to his irresponsibility, then I’d be leaning toward her view. If the car had been purchased out of her own money, then again I’d be leaning toward her view. But it sounds like he hadn’t been at fault and the car came out of his grandma’s pocket.

By her actions, she’s putting unnecessary strain on her relationship with her son. No one forced her to pay for his insurance, so she doesn’t have the right to use that against him. She needs to own up to the fact that she chose to do that.

Keeping all the payout means she is profiting from something that has left her son deprived of a valuable gift. She deserves to be vilified for this choice.

But if a car is gifted to someone, then ownership is transferred to them. The giver is not entitled to insurance claims for something they no longer own.

Agreed. Her premiums will go up. She’s paid his insurance (for a new young male driver those aren’t cheap) plus now her insurance and claims record will go up. I think she should reimburse herself the cost of his insurance and say 2 years of the premium increase (if her insurance goes up by $100.00/month then $2400 ) The rest should go to the son. I don’t know how insurance works in your state, but I would think that if his name is on the title to the car he should be getting some of the payout.