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Edward BatesEdward BatesMary, many of you know as my business partner and wife, during one of the many icy days this winter, had our first car accident in over 25 years.  Even though we are in the insurance business, experiencing a real-life claim had some surprises.  This accident was a single car event, where the vehicle while entering a freeway by way of a metered on-ramp, hit a patch of unsalted ice and she lost control of the vehicle. 

The car simply went down into a small ravine which would not have been significant if it weren't for the metered light on that side of the ramp.  The vehicle hit the light standard which was reinforced by a cement base, and broke it off.  It fell onto the roof and windshield causing major damage to the windshield.  Mary phoned 911, and soon after an accident road assistant, police office,r and a tow truck appeared. The vehicle was able to be driven out of the ravine so the thought was damage was fairly minor comparatively, and we were just happy Mary was unharmed.  It appeared other than the vehicle's windshield, the only other damage was one of the front tires was flat.   The road side assistant asked her to drive the car to a safer area free of the icy area and away from the on-ramp.  In doing so, some damage was apparently caused to the flat tire's wheel. 

My thinking was when first told about this, well our full glass coverage will cover the windshield without deductible and for this vehicle that would cost $250-$300 total.  If the tire was destroyed then maybe another $100. Throw in something for miscellaneous labor and the unknowns and we're out of there fairly inexpensively. Mary was safe and it was not a major claim.  We lucked out, right?; wrong.  The tow to a repair shop which was about 3 miles away was $221. (I am thinking that I might invest in a tow truck) The windshield would not be covered by the full glass coverage without a deductible because this accident was considered a collision and the coverage for full glass with no deductible is only for a comprehensive claim (stones, birds, deer, etc.).  We didn't rent a car even though we had coverage for that, because this claim looked so minor it couldn't take more than a couple of days to fix, right?  Wrong again.  It took three weeks to fix the car as our insurance company and the repair shop coordinated an estimate of damages and approval for repair.  We also hadn't thought about the 600 other folks in the area that had auto claims due to the same icy weather.

The final cost was $3,921.96. This figure does not include the light meter belonging to, I presume, the State or County, that our car destroyed and for which the police filed a claim that afternoon with our insurance company.  Who knows what that might cost and what the labor might be, but our company will pay that tab under the liability portion of our coverage as damage to property of others.  Our personal cost for the accident was our $500 deductible...

So, for those of you who are in our situation where you fortunately have not experienced an auto claim in a while, things may have changed a bit.  First, in this case 911 was the right number to call and they promptly arranged the proper people to respond.  Second, if possible, if the accident was caused by ice make sure you guard against other vehicles having the same difficulty and endangering yourself or your passengers while your figuring out what to do next.  If possible move the vehicle, and if you cannot, get to a safer area to call for help.  Once that is under control call, your insurance claims' number on your insurance card.  Some companies are particular as to what repair shop you use, so get their advice as soon as you can (aren't cell phones wonderful?).  From that point make sure your insurance company is responding to the repair shop and if your accident was during bad weather, keep in mind you might be competing with other poor souls for attention on your repairs.  Finally, get a good estimate as to the time of repairs so you can decide whether to rent a car or not.  Our insurance coverage provides 30 days at $40 per pay and the repair shop rented vehicles for $40/day.  Finally, keep in mind many accidents may have an effect on your short-term insurance premiums.  So, it doesn't pay to run up the tab on repairs or buy into schemes with the repair shop as to how you can get out of paying some or all of your deductible. Basically your accident will be evaluated on many things including total cost.  Also keep in mind ours was a fairly straight forward and minor vehicle accident compared to most.  For greater challenges, depend on your insurance company and agent for help and guidance.  That's why we're here...

Here's hoping you go many more years  before having to navigate the repair of your vehicle.  Drive safely!!

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