The Sum of Our Actions

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By Matthew Vanderford, Claimology

Today (the day of this writing) is 90 days since our son got into a car accident; 90 days since we had to file a claim; 90 days since he was injured; 90 days since his car was totaled; 90 days and still without a check from the insurance company…..and that’s another story.

Our son loved his first car. It was a gold PT Cruiser convertible with leather interior and silver rims that took him to school, work, surfing, and off-roading with his buddies. Did I mention it was a GT? Yeah, on second thought, maybe a little too much torque for a 16 year-old novice driver on sand! He worked hard to earn that car. It was sad to see him so bummed out. So many things came out of the accident though – both good and not so pleasant. But the reality is that it could’ve been much worse, and we’re thankful that it wasn’t.

It made me remember buying my first car. The excitement. The freedom. The expense! My car payment was $199.00 a month and my dad helped me co-sign the loan because I was 17. When it came to insurance, my dad got the policy since I was still a minor, and I paid an insurance premium of about $150.00 a month too! When I was finally living on my own and bought a new car, I just contacted my old insurance company and added the car with the same type of coverage. Nobody explained what tort was. Nobody explained what 25/50/50 meant. Nobody said, “Now young man, if you get into an accident and the other person doesn’t have insurance, you might not get anything.” I learned how to sew and cook in home economics. I certainly didn’t learn about insurance and how an accident without the right type of coverage can cause you to lose everything you’ve worked for. Now to me, that’s home economics and a different class on a different day. And usually that day comes with a pop quiz, in the form of an accident where you get to learn a very valuable and, hopefully, not too expensive real-life lesson.

There were and will probably still be many lessons that come to me and my family because of that accident. And one lesson taught to us was: GET THE RIGHT COVERAGE. The first test of this lesson came when the dealer said, “Now most people just add the cars under their names and let their kids drive them – that way they save on insurance.” I thanked him for his words and then went home. But when I added the car to the policy, I did it under my son’s name with him as the primary driver. Now by adding my son as the primary driver of the vehicle, it nearly tripled our rates. Our son, was….not….happy. But one thing kept coming back to me: If an accident were to happen, the insurance company has the right to ask questions through an attorney in a procedure called “An Examination Under Oath.” That’s a serious thing. Because if that attorney were to ask us, “Who is the primary driver of that PT Cruiser?” we could only answer one of two ways: tell the truth with a clean conscience or attempt to justify another way of answering. With that one thought in the back of my mind, I called our insurance company and didn’t follow the advice of the helpful dealer. Because that advice caused me to ask a question. What could happen if I did what the dealer suggested? And although the advice given wasn’t the best, it was a tool helping us to make a better decision. And for that – we say THANK YOU.

“Today, may I be a student of everything and everyone, and learn the lessons to grow.” —MM&I