But…But…It Was An Accident!

Some clearly deluded people (such as me, or at least the Me of the past) are under the impression that if you are in an auto accident which isn’t your fault, it will not affect your auto insurance premiums.  Well, not exactly.  It sort of depends on where you live among other things.  So a good place not to live, auto-insurance wise, is New Orleans.  At the time, home of the drive-through daiquiri shop and getting a driver’s license at 15 years old without taking driver’s education. 

There must be proof that the accident was not your fault, in the form of the other guy getting a ticket.  If that doesn’t happen, then you are considered equally at fault, regardless of the circumstances. 

So here is my auto accident history, starting in 1993, in New Orleans.  I was crossing a major street (Elysian Fields) from a side street (Burgundy), where there is no traffic light, when a car going about 900 mph slammed into the rear driver’s side of my Toyota Corolla.  You kind of have to know the terrain.  The start of Elysian Fields is at the end of the French Quarter when Decatur Street makes a sharp curve and turns into Elysian Fields.  You cannot drive fast in the French Quarter for numerous reasons, so here’s what happens:  as soon people make that curve they put the accelerator to the floor.  He was not there when I started across the street.  He was driving a tank.  Specifically, a Buick Park Avenue, circa 1979.  My car spun around all four lanes three or four times, then crashed head first into a tree.  I was a little stunned (but not dead).  I got a ticket, for failure to yield the right of way.  I said, But…But…!  He was speeding!  The officer said, I didn’t see it.  So, here’s some advice. If you’re going to have an auto accident, arrange for it to be in full view of a police officer.  Unless you’re in New Orleans, where that doesn’t count, because the next accident I had was in front of a police officer.

Well, not technically, according to him, because his back was turned.  In this case I was making a left turn onto a side street from Poydras St. and my light was green.  A woman coming down Poydras ran the red light and smashed into the passenger side of my (new) Saturn.  As luck would have it (or not) there had been an accident in that very same intersection and there was a police officer right there, taking a report from one of the parties involved in the previous accident.  When my accident occurred there was a pedestrian she almost hit first.  He stopped long enough to give me his name, address, and phone number, but he was in a hurry.  When the police officer began to write the report, the woman denied running the red light.  I said, I have a witness!  The officer said, Well, he isn’t here now, is he?  In this case, no one got a ticket (you know, since he didn’t see it).  While he could not be bothered, the insurance companies could be bothered and the end result was that her insurance co. quietly paid to repair my car. 

Unfortunately, only a couple of weeks later I was crossing Poydras again (!) and a guy in a Camaro clipped the front end of my car.  We stopped and exchanged insurance info, and did not call the police.  (What, after all, would be the point?) My insurance company promptly cancelled my insurance, and for three years I had to get car insurance from Lloyd’s of London.  I thought they were the people who insured things like Marilyn Monroe’s breasts.  But no–for real, they are the insurer of last resort for all sorts of things. 

My next…and last…accident was in 1996.  I was peacefully sitting in the left turn lane at a traffic light when an elderly guy crosses three lanes of traffic from my right and bashes into the right rear of my car.  I didn’t even know what had happened, because…wait for it…I didn’t see it.  The guy was really confused.  He didn’t know what had happened either.  My impression is that he wanted his car to be where my car was, and the fact that my car was already there was magically erased from his perception. 

But this was Iowa, not Louisiana, and a couple in another car stopped and stayed until the police came.  We all pulled into the parking lot of a pharmacy, where the elderly guy and his wife had pulled out of in the first place.  The whole time we were waiting for the police to arrive, the wife was quietly sobbing and saying I’m so sorry.  The only reason we’re out is that my husband needed his medication.  I and the witnesses all took turns putting an arm around her telling her it would be okay.  The poor little thing. When the police arrived, they asked the guy what happened and he couldn’t remember.  They said, well these other people say you drove into another car (mine).  He said, well, that could be true, I just don’t know.  Oh no.  It was so sad. 

Within a few days, his insurance company called me and said, how much do you want us to write the check for? That was sad too.   

The occasion for all this is that today I saw an ad for Nationwide auto insurance and their “vanishing deductible” plan.  If you are a safe driver (no accidents, no moving violations) you can sign up for this plan and every year for five years, your deductible goes down by $100.  Except your premium goes up.  So you are paying for this marvelous service.  And probably more than $100 a year.  Very cute.  Are we just all idiots?  Don’t answer that. 


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