Proof that Having Car Insurance is a Good Idea
Totaled Jeep Cherokee
On the evening of December 1st,
I got a phone call from my oldest son. His voice shook while he informed me he had just survived a car accident on Garden Street in downtown Santa Barbara. An oncoming car had side swiped his pride and joy, and first car, his Ford Focus (Fast & the Furious) on the rear quarter panel. The impact caused my son's car to spin out of control until it stopped abruptly when colliding with the exterior rock wall of a home . Although my son was only driving about 15 MPH, the other driver was going much faster. My son's vehicle was totaled. According to the police, my son was at fault even though the other driver barreled into him. Because the other car had the right-of-way at a four-way intersection, my son was cited for responsibility of the collision, while the other driver was released of any liability!
The pool hall.
My son was pretty shook up.
I was grateful that he was only shook up, and had not sustained any physical pain. So, at that point all I kept visualizing was dollar signs floating up in smoke. Because my business was not doing well, I had no choice about getting car insurance. We simply did not have the money to do so, therefore the vehicle had absolutely zero coverage.
We stood there, staring at the damaged vehicle. My son kept repeating the same question. "Why, Mom? Why did this happen to me?"
I turned towards him in shock and wondered how to answer such a profound question. I thought, “Why were these things happening to us?”
Although doubt filled my mind, I responded to him without hesitating. I assured him the only way I knew how. “Things always happen for a reason, my son. You have to believe this with all your heart! There is a reason for everything and although it is never clear at the time, you will find that things always work out the way they should.”
Ya right!!! …and they say there’s no place like home?!?! Click your heels, Dorothy, and keep wishing!!!?!? What next?!?!?!?!?!
Two weeks later,
I got the call that is every mother's worst fear. I heard the California Highway Patrol officer on the other end of the receiver. He spoke methodically and precisely and I listened intently while he explained that my brand new Jeep was just in an accident on the Northbound 101, leaving it unrecognizable and destroyed. My heart sank and I fell to my knees. It had been only five minutes since I had kissed my eldest son goodbye. He drove off in my car to his new job since he had wrecked his own car the month before. The voice on the phone sounded so distant. The ambulance was transporting my boy to the hospital. Frustration accompanied my fear. I had no transportation to get to my child because he was driving my only vehicle.
I called a friend who picked me up immediately to get to the hospital. I closed up my business and got ready to meet up with my son. I shook uncontrollably the entire way to the hospital. I somehow managed to get dropped off right when the ambulance pulled in. I watched as the paramedics opened the back of the ambulance and pull out a stretcher with a body on it. I just about flipped out when I realized it wasn't my son. Ironically, he had to share the ambulance with the lady he barreled into. She wasn't doing so hot! The accident happened when the traffic stopped abruptly on the freeway and my son went from 70 miles per hour to ZERO in 1.2 seconds. The lady on the stretcher had a neck brace on and couldn't move her body. Right after they removed her out from the vehicle, my son JUMPED out of the ambulance. Miraculously my son’s only injury was a mere scratch over his left eye! He had been removed from the pan caked car with the jaws of life, so I was expecting to see him in critical condition. The Jeep didn't fare so well. It literally had been flattened during the impact. It was an act of God that my son was alive.
Afterwards I was sitting with him in his hospital room. It's standard procedure in California and protocol for the hospital to hold minors for a certain amount of time before releasing them to their parents. We sat on his bed talking about the accident and what happened. Then something dawned on my son. The look on his face was shear bewilderment when he realized that he had escaped death. Remembering what I had said about "Things work out the way they should.”...He realized that if he had been driving his Ford Focus in this accident, there was no chance in hell that he would have lived. That little car of his would have most definitely crushed him.
Again, this devastating accident was not covered by insurance. I had only bought this car less than two months prior, and was financing $11,000 for this used Jeep Grand Cherokee. I still had not gotten car insurance on this vehicle because, again, I simply did not have the money.
The third car, a Ford Taurus, bought from craigslist.
Car Accident #3
Christmas Eve was spent with only my son and myself. We had already lost our home and were actually living inside the building of my business. It was a pool hall and I was on the brink of closing the doors permanently. Just the two of us stayed that night in the dreary, undecorated pool hall alone. Our nerves were shattered and we were at each other’s throat. I spent that miserable Christmas Eve watching him open the only gifts that I could afford: boxers and cologne. We were asleep by 9:00 pm, each of us with blankets on two pool tables, with only the sounds of our hungry bellies to keep us company. My younger son stayed at his girlfriend’s house. I did not see him at all over the holidays. My heart hurt for my children, my family.
My son never recovered from that accident. He was a senior in high school that year and was the captain of the football team. After Christmas vacation, he never went back to school and ultimately was forced to drop out altogether because we had no place to live and no transportation. These uncontrollable circumstances, along with my son's mental state disabled him for a long time afterwards. He never fully recovered from the two concurrent accidents.
Because this traffic collision was my son's fault (again), the victim who was hit, filed a lawsuit against both my son and me. The damages to her and her vehicle came to over $32,000. My financed vehicle had a loan on it that I defaulted on and that too ended with a judgment against me for $11,900.
In order to get some decent transportation, I was forced to sell a pool table from the business. My newest vehicle, a $1000 beater from Craig’s List, seemed safe and trustworthy.
On January 4th, this vehicle was also demolished in an accident. This time, though, there was a twist. I was out of town at a hotel for a meeting with a prospective investor. During breakfast while I was in the hotel restaurant, my belongings were stripped from my hotel room, and then disappeared in my car with two thieves. They managed to steal the car right out of the hotel's valet service. The highway patrol paged me over the hotel intercom. Those idiots were about a hundred miles away in their getaway, when they drove my car directly into a tree. When I finally got to see my car, I was floored. I had never seen a vehicle damaged so badly in my entire life. The force of the impact managed to split the engine right in half. All my belongings that the thieves had stowed in the trunk, including my laptop, were now perched on the dashboard and all over the front seat, in a million pieces. I had never seen anything like this in my life. I owned this vehicle for only two weeks and again, I had no car insurance.
California Low Cost Automobile Insurance
The total penalty for not having insurance:
Vehicle #1: $4000
Other vehicle: $2900
Court Fees: $450
Vehicle #2 $11,900
Other vehicle and driver: $32,500
Court Fees: $720
Vehicle #3 $1000
Tow Fees and Impound Lot: $400
Personal Possessions Stolen: $2800
plus 2 judgments filed against me in court.
Total loss that could have been prevented by purchasing a vehicle insurance policy:
California now offers low cost car insurance for low income households. There is, of course criteria that needs to be met, but at least there is hope. Do a google search for low cost insurance in your State. Average cost of car insurance for one year is $220 with only $15 down payment!
About California's Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program
California Law requires that all drivers of vehicles within the State maintain evidence of financial responsibility. California's Low Cost Automobile Program (CLCA) was established by the Legislature in 1999 and exists pursuant to California Insurance Code Section 11629.7 as a program designed to provide income eligible persons with liability insurance protection at affordable rates as a way to meet California's financial responsibility laws.
However, too many income eligible drivers remain uninsured because the costs of standard insurance premiums are beyond their financial reach. Learn about affordable solutions that may help protect you, your friends, family and other drivers on the road.
© 2013 Helen Kramer