Accident

3 1912

So, after a lot of questioning myself, I finally decided to cash the insurance check from Geico that resulted from my accident on leap day.

Just after doing so, I went online and mail-ordered the replacement parts that I thought I needed — a couple of special clips for the bumper trim piece that snapped off, a new light, and even decided on buying some new windshield wipers since they’ve been in need of replacement for probably 6 months now.

Grand total was $90.38.

So this morning, my sidekick and I put on our mechanic hats (figuratively) and got our hands dirty (for real).

Twenty minutes later, this is how things looked.

No, it’s not perfect.

The bumper is still cracked but for $1610 in my pocket, I’ll take it!

And I even got “free” wipers outta the deal!

5 2581

So you may have heard that I have a $1701 check written out to me from Geico that’s causing me lots of grief lately.

Three weeks ago now, I was rear ended by a dunderheaded lummox and it destroyed a tail light and did some cosmetic damage to the rear bumper of my 2004 Land Rover.

Now, what I keep telling myself to do is to sign the check over to the local auto body place and have them take care of everything and give me a brand new looking car in a few days…

That would make me smile.

But I’ve also got dollar signs in my eyes…

See, this is an 8-year old vehicle. Sure, the mileage is low (60k), but it’s still an 8-year old car.

The Kelly Blue Book value is somewhere between $5k and $6k which, in reality, means I’d only get maybe $4k for it in a trade-in whether the bumper is damaged or not.

That said, it drives like a charm and it’s not ready to be traded in. Simply put, even with a damaged bumper, I still think it has plenty of life left.

Let’s say I’m fortunate enough to get another 40k miles out of it…

Now we’re theoretically talking about a 10+ year old vehicle with 100k miles on it.

Does relatively minor cosmetic damage have much of an impact on the trade-in value of a car at the end of its lifespan?

Probably not…

So, with that in mind, would it be financially wise to dump $1700 worth of cosmetic repairs into it?

In this instance, I think my mind is all but made up…

I foresee a considerable drop in my credit card balance in the near future… or a super wicked awesome first birthday party for Henrik… courtesy of Geico.

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For the record, I own this car free and clear. No lienholders in the mix to coddle so please save me the ethics lecture. I don’t like it either but apparently this is how the system works.

I’m also about 80% sure I can replace and repair the tail light myself for under $100.

For an additional $7 (to buy the special plastic clips), I can re-attach the bumper trim piece too…

A $107 repair job is “good enough”.

2 1410

Since I was rear-ended on Leap Day 2012, I’ve been a lot more aware of the happenings going on behind me.

It isn’t that I haven’t always peaked in the rearview mirror, it’s just that I’ve been doing it a lot more often lately.

Yeah, there’s some anxiety there.

Now, I’m totally aware that “driving” in general has become a lot more dangerous over the past 20 years (I’ve been driving since 1992) — I see the level of safety declining everyday.

Red lights are meaningless to some.

The shoulder is apparently an additional travel lane on the on the highway.

If you want to turn left, it’s okay to block crossing traffic to make it happen. Totally acceptable.

U-turns? In traffic? No problem. Just do it.

And there are signal lights? Really, what are those even for?

With all of that around me, I’m concerned enough but, of late, I’m really terrified out there.
My commute is less than 6 miles — and that includes to-and-from.

Six miles.

Every single day since that accident I’ve had at least one person in the car directly behind me totally “in the zone”.

A cell phone is the usual culprit — and I’m convinced that’s why I was hit — but it’s the freakin’ text messagers that really scare the crap out of me.

The talkers aren’t paying attention and, yeah, that’s a hazard, but it’s the texters who aren’t paying attention or even looking at where they’re headed that are the real problem.

Now, since the accident, I finally upgraded my el-cheapo cell phone to one with the full keyboard. For those that care, it’s a Samsung M575. Seven bucks per month, baby…

Anyway, once the battery charged, I sent my first text message on it to my wife from the comfort of the couch and it was clear — there is no way I could have done that from behind the wheel of a moving car. No way.

I’m getting off topic…

Okay, so back to the aftermath of the accident on Leap Day…

So, since I was in an accident, I did what I “thought” you were supposed to do when you’re in an accident — I called my insurance company.

(Yes, I now realize that this was an incredibly stupid thing to do when you’re not at fault but it turned out kinda of interesting… Read on…)

I asked lots of questions while filing my claim with Allstate and made it clear that I wasn’t at fault, I had an police accident report, and even a witness, blah, blah, blah…

It was implied that Geico — the other guy’s insurance company — would re-imburse Allstate on the claim.

Sounded feasable to me since I just wanted my car to get fixed.

Allstate scheduled me with an adjuster to take a look at the car and “issue a check” so, the day after the accident, I took the car to one of Allstate’s drive-up claim offices which just so happens to be an auto shop. Go figure.

The dude, nice enough guy, comes out, checks out the damage, takes a few pictures and then starts googling “Land Rover Bumper”.

Seriously?

I was a little taken aback, you know, thinking they’d have some sort of master “parts” database for that sort of thing.

Being the nerd that I am, you know I’d already googled the cost of a new bumper — yeah, around $900.

So, the adjuster guy isn’t quite as savvy on the internet as I am and he can’t find the “correct” bumper so he makes an executive decision and “chooses” a knock off bumper made in Taiwan.

Now, I’m not against using generic parts, not for one second, but if that bumper doesn’t look the same (with the words “Land Rover” embossed across the length of it), well, that’s not good enough.

I said as much too.

I mean, you don’t see people removing logos from their BMWs, Cadillacs, and Mercedes?

No, you don’t.

It’s just the Mitsubishi and pimped out Honda crowd that try to make their car appear as something else…

Anyway, he talked up some lifetime Allstate guarantee of somesort for junk aftermarket parts and put the cost down as $250.

Say what?

Yeah, $250 for a new bumper cover.

And a $50 repair on the muffler. No, really, a fifty dollar repair to the muffler.

Can I get a show of hands of people who’ve ever had anything done at a Meinieke for fifty clams?

All told, his guesstimation of the damage was $1011. Take out my $500 deductable and I was presented with a check for $511.

But, oh no, there was a printing error. He printed the check wrong so he had to void it. In the end, I left the office having been told that I’d have to wait for Allstate to correct it and mail it to me.

Whatever.

I drove home…kind of in a funk. Had I just gotten screwed? Again?

It didn’t sit right.

I mean, I’m not a car expert but I paid $1200 out-of-pocket for that front bumber repair last summer and that damage was far far less than this.

And why was I paying $500? I was the one that got hit — the adjuster and my claim rep only briefly mentioned getting re-imbursed by the other guy’s insurance company, as in Allstate would get re-imbursed but I wouldn’t.

Not happy about it but not sure what to do, my wife took over (she’s better at being mean), and cancelled the claim with Allstate before the check even arrived — it took like 4 business days to show up.

It’ll still show up as a claim on my record though — and my premium could go up — so, in a way, I did get screwed.

For anyone out there that’s been hit by someone else — don’t *EVER* call your own insurance company even though there are places all over the internet (and in your policy) that say you should.

So then I called Geico — the other guy’s insurance company.

It felt weird calling in to file a claim with a company that you’re not even a customer with. I mean, the first question they ask is what your policy number is…

You can’t help but expect them to take a different tone the second you way, “Um, I don’t have one…” but the fellow on the other end of the line was as pleasant as could be.

That said, I could’ve done without the “I’m sorry to hear you were in an accident, was everyone alright?” No matter how you slice it, it never comes across as sincere from a total stranger over the phone.

I know he was just reading a script on the computer screen in front of him but, c’mon…

Anyway, he was able to look everything up based on the other guy’s policy number (which I had from the police accident report) and, without even having to go through the 40-questions game about nwhat occured, he flat out said that Geico had admitted fault.

(In short, the other driver had already filed a claim cause his car was really messed up.)

Wow, that was easy.

So from there I had to schedule an appointment at one of Geico’s drive in locations which, again, was at an auto body.

Annoyingly, the closest one was a bit of a hike from home and their available timeslots were less than convenient but I took a wicked long lunch one day at work and drove it out there.

For maximum effect, just before I got there, I pulled the tail light out so it looked like it was hanging by a wire.

(Post accident, it was hanging by a wire but it was easy to snap the smashed light enclosure back into place.)

This guy came out, looked at the car, took the same types of pictures that the Allstate guy did and then started looking up the parts.

His system didn’t have the rear bumper cover listed but when he looked it up (I didn’t see if he was just using google too), he said, “Man, that cover will be tough to find…” and then came to the value of $950.

Yeah, that’s more like it, I thought…

And he said the muffler was just fine — the bumper cover just wasn’t where it’s supposed to be so it’s now almost touching the muffler. Looking at it myself, I totally agree.

In the end, I was presented with a check for $1701 from Geico.

So, Allstate was going to give me $511 to take to an autobody shop to pay for the repairs and Geico was going to give me $1701.

Now I realize it’s all a matter of opinion and that either insurance company would deal with the autobody directly on the “realized” cost of the total repair but, c’mon…

That’s a $1200 difference.

Omitting the deductible, it’s still not even close.

Not even close.

So now I’m not even sure what to think…

Does Allstate suck? Are they cheap? Or is Geico that awesome? I just don’t know…

What I have learned though is that if I’m ever in another accident where it’s undoubtedly not my fault… I’m NOT calling my own insurance company.

That is the WRONG thing to do.

I know, I know, it seems obvious but snoop around on the internet a bit — it says that it’s in your best interest to call your own insurance company and I’ve come to learn that that’s completely wrong when the accident is clearly not your fault.

So now we need to decide on how to procede…

I want to get it fixed because I’ve never been the type to “benefit” from being a victim or drive a junked out car but…the damage is strictly cosmetic. It stills drive like a charm.

And let’s be honest, a $1700 payment to the credit card company is pretty enticing…

It’s almost got me thinking that Geico may have had a formula in place when they came to that $1701 number — make it less than what the actual repairs we’ll be on the hook for but high enough that the non-customer will just cash it instead.

If that’s the case, well, they hit the mark.

I’m on the fence.

And I don’t like it.

7 2730

So, just a couple of days ago I wrote about how the Land Rover hasn’t had any “incidents” for about six months

Well, yesterday, we had a little bit of snow, I was at a stop light, fourth or fifth in line, looked in my rear view and saw a Chevy Impala closing in fast.

He wasn’t sliding, no, this wasn’t weather related.

He just wasn’t paying attention.

SMASH!

My first thought was, “Damn… I really like this car…”

When I got out of the car, I was surprised to see how little damage was done to my car.

Back bumber is a little messed up and one of the parking lights encased in the bumber was totally smashed and hanging by a couple of wires.

The Impala didn’t fare as well and, yes, that makes me smile.

His headlight was smashed with glass and mirror crap everywhere, the grill came off, and the hood was crinkled up all the way back to the windshield.

Ha-ha.

While it sucks to be me…it REALLY sucks to be that dude.

The police came, and another motorist (the person behind the dude that hit me) even stuck around to give a statement. I wish that’d happened in my last fender-bender where I was wrongfully hosed.

Anyway, I’ll keep everyone posted on how the insurance claim goes…

6 1627

So, last, last Friday, I got into a fender bender.

The details aren’t terribly important (I feel that I got screwed) but I decided not to get the insurance company involved and just have the repairs done on my own dime to put it all behind me.

On Monday, we dropped the car off at a local body shop.

On Thursday, it was ready and looking good as new.

Total damage was $1200-something…

I stopped in to pick it up, pulled out my wallet, and then they said, “Oh, we don’t take charge cards…”

Say what?

4 1723

So today when driving back to work after lunch, some dude in front of me decided to pull a last second u-turn downtown.

Guess what?

I hit him.

I swore at him.

I pulled over.

Turns out he was a really nice guy, thankfully.

Terrible driver but a nice guy.

We did the whole police report thing — he admitted it was totally his fault and then guess what happened?

Yep — I got the ticket.

Seriously, I’ve lost all confidence in law enforcement. The responding officer was pleasant enough but totally ignored what both us said happened.

Looking to do the bare minimum required in this non-event fender-bender, the officer just took the easy route — the car in the back is always at fault. That was me.

Um, hello? Last time I checked, u-turns aren’t allowed…

For real, I think the officer would have given me the ticket if this dude were a wrong way driver on the highway… I only wish I could be so lazy at my own job…

So now I don’t know what to do…

The car I hit (a HUGE contractor’s truck) wasn’t damaged at all and as far as the police report is concerned, he wasn’t in the wrong either.

My car, though, has some mega bumber damage to the point that I can’t turn left without the tire rubbing against the wheel well.

Do I get the insurance company involved when the police report is (wrongfully) stacked against me or do I just plunk down the thousand dollars that I’m just guessing it’ll cost to fix to the point that I can turn left again?

Not exactly how I wanted to start the month…

Oh, and it’s amazing that you can still pretty much get anywhere by turning right… I learned that tonight on the way home…

0 678

Not our actual damage…Last night, my wife reminded me that it was exactly one year ago that we got into our car accident.

It was hard to imagine with it being in the windy and cold 40’s yesterday while a year ago we were cruising with the top down in the sunshine — it just doesn’t seem like it was the same time of year.

But honestly, it’s one of those points of reference that I’m able to immediately go back to. When I think about all of the things we’ve accomplished since then, it makes me feel pretty good.

No, I’m not going to go all wishy-washy here and talk about how a near death experience changed my life for the better. Hardly.

It wasn’t a near death experience in my head — my thoughts as we were sliding sideways (and backwards) towards the guardrail were:

  • Please don’t let another car hit us.
  • Why aren’t we slowing down – my foot *is* on the brake!
  • There’s plenty of shoulder for us to stop before the guardrail.
  • Oh crap — this is going to hurt!

When the car finally hit the guardrail, and stopped, it turned out that we didn’t hit any other cars and there really wasn’t enough of a shoulder. Oh yeah, we weren’t hurt either.

Since then, going back to my reference point, the thing that I notice that has changed the most, physically, is the exterior of our house. It’s all new — and somehow we managed to pay for it too.

On the inside, we tore out a ton of plaster, fixed a plumbing problem, and threw out tons and tons of junk that we had sitting in a storage unit (to the tune of $140/month).

Financially things have been nothing but positive, with the credit card debt eliminated and my 401k finally maxxed out.

Over this last year, things even got comfy enough that I threw in the towel and stopped working so much (outside of the office).

Quitting the hockey team was the first big step — dumping a long time difficult and frustrating client was the next. Can’t tell you how nice it was on Sunday to return from a weekend away and not have a single business related email in my inbox. Not one.

That’s been a huge change for me — and in just one year.

2 4826

Allstate LogoYesterday afternoon I received my auto insurance renewal from Allstate in the mail.

With the accident back in May, that resulted in a repair bill that indicated that they probably should have totalled the car, I wasn’t expecting good news.

But it was good news.

It doesn’t appear that my rates have gone up — and having been with Allstate for years, I was never ushered in to the “Accident Forgiveness” plan that they advertise so heavily — so I really expected them to jump (or have them drop me entirely like they did with my homeowners insurance.)

Total bill is still an outrageous $1071 for six months.

Is it just me, or is that really high for a 30 year old married male with no tickets and just this one accident on his record?

Can You Dig It?

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