Here We Go Again

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When it comes to fender benders, I’ve had my share.  I’ve only had one collision with another vehicle that was my fault.  As luck would have it, that one happened in the early morning hours.  I backed my work car into the front of the General’s car.  It didn’t damage my work car, but the grill on the General’s Lexus looked noticeably different than it previously looked.  She was not a happy camper.  “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” or so the saying goes.

I found the experience somewhat stressful.  For one thing, the General doesn’t give my ability to drive much credit and my backing into her car didn’t do much to improve her perception. Secondly my agency’s insurance would not cover the cost of repairing her vehicle.  Since I was the driver involved in the accident, I couldn’t file a claim for damaging a vehicle belonging to myself.  It may have been the General’s car, but in Texas being married made the vehicle community property.  Consequently, repairing the vehicle was on my dime.

Fortunately, I’ve never been in a fender bender where anyone was injured.  With one exception, the damage has always been repairable.  The one exception was in a new rental car.  The impact of the collision bent the frame of the vehicle and the collision  proved to be the car’s last rodeo.  I wasn’t actually driving the car at the time.  The car was parked in a parking lot.  I had just opened the door and gotten inside the vehicle at the time of the impact.  A vehicle traveling 50 mph lost control, jumped the curb and broadsided the vehicle.  The rental car wasn’t even running.  I still had the key in my hand. Assigning responsibility related to fault was pretty easy.

I’ve been in at least seven accidents (actually eight now) where I’ve been stopped in traffic and an overly zealous driver behind me failed to stop.  In one of those accidents at a very busy intersection, I visited briefly with the driver of the other vehicle and we determined to pull out of traffic to exchange contact information and insurance information. 

Consequently, I was shocked when the driver who hit me hurriedly left the scene of the accident.  We didn’t exchange anything.  He had the pedal to the metal and he was gone.  I managed to get his license plate number as his vehicle was quickly on the verge of disappearing before my very eyes.  When law enforcement subsequently located him, his story was that I backed my car into his car.  I don’t guess it really made much of a difference in getting my car repaired.  He didn’t have automobile insurance.

More often than not, I’ve found insurance companies a little reluctant to step up to the plate and provide permission to have my car repaired at any place of my choosing.  They routinely want their adjuster to see the car first and then negotiate a reasonable charge for the repair.  That is not always an expeditious or easy process.

Case in point, the most difficult experience I’ve had related to a city bus in a large metropolitan area collided with my vehicle.  Actually, the vehicle was legally parked on the city street at the time.  I was not present at the time of the collision.  It was only by happenstance that I made the discovery while the bus and law enforcement was still present.  I had walked back to my car to retrieve my cell phone.

The city transportation department wanted their claim agent to access the damage.  Consequently, they eventually made arrangements to have an adjustor come look.  I then received a release of liability form from the city stating the fixed amount they would provide to cover the cost of repairs.  The form clearly stated that affixing blame for the accident had not been determined, but with the receipt of the release of liability they would send a check to cover their perception of the cost.

I may not be the sharpest Crayola in the box, but I wasn’t going to sign a legal document stating that clear responsibility for who was at fault was questionable.  I also didn’t complete a blue accident form to submit to the State of Texas. I clearly had not been involved in a traffic accident. My work car was legally parked on a city street and a city bus sideswiped it.  Since I was in my hotel room at the time the collision occurred, at least in my narrow way of thinking, the possibility of my being responsible for the accident was non-existent.

Getting my car repaired was not an easy process. In addition the costs were approximately three times what the insurance adjustor initially estimated.  Even after my car was in the shop, the back and forth approval process was slow.  My car was actually in the body shop for six weeks.

Consequently, being involved in another fender bender on Friday afternoon wasn’t exactly the highlight of my day.  I had the thought, the last thing I need is to have to hassle with anyone’s insurance to get my car repaired. I was stopped in a line of traffic when the vehicle behind me failed to stop.

The young man who hit me with his pickup was clearly shaken up from the accident.  He said, “I’ve never been in an accident before. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do.  I suggested that we pull out of traffic and exchange insurance information. He said, “Okay” and dutifully followed.  We only had to travel a few feet before we could turn the corner and be out of traffic.

The antifreeze running out of his truck’s radiator made it pretty clear that he wasn’t driving away from the accident.  He was pretty shaken up, but appropriately pleasant.  We exchanged information. I even volunteered to write my stuff down for him including my company information since they owned the vehicle.

He asked: “Aren’t we supposed to call the police?”  I responded that they no longer come out unless there are injuries, but that I’d call to ensure nothing has changed. Like I said, “I’ve been around the block a time or two.”  My perception was still correct.

While I was writing my stuff down for him, he made a couple of telephone calls.  Getting back to my insurance information, he said: “I’m sorry.  I can’t read your writing. Would you mind if I wrote it down myself?”  Certainly, I did not mind.  I also offered to drive him anywhere he needed to go.  He declined saying his girlfriend and her father were coming to get him.

On Saturday, I missed a telephone call. Listening to my voice message, the caller was from the insurance company. They needed information concerning who actually owned the vehicle.  Listening to the message, I had the thought: “Here we go again”.

I returned the call and got the caller’s answering machine. Within minutes she returned my call. She couldn’t have been more pleasant. She needed the contact information for my company.  I provided that for her. She then said: “Your vehicle was hit from behind. We accept full responsibility for the damages and will pay to have your vehicle repaired at any place of your choosing.  We don’t have to access the damage first.”

Immediately, the anticipated stress I anticipated related to getting my car repaired disappeared. It really works well when insurance works the way it is supposed to work. Unfortunately, I don’t always find that to be the case.

All My Best!

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Don

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