Tag Archives: automobile

Need Advice: Car "Collision," Deductibles, Insurance

My car luck is really not doing so great lately. It’s a long story, which I’ll tell below, but the main question I have is — should I go through insurance to get the damages fixed, should I even both getting the damages fixed, and is it too late to decide not to go through insurance?

Here’s the story.

My first day of work I left my car at the public transportation garage. Returned to my car, the back window was smashed (it’s a small window that doesn’t open because it’s a 2 door) and the passenger seat door was busted.

Called insurance to file a claim about the break in. Nothing was stolen but would need to get window fixed and car seat fixed if possible. Have $0 deductible for comprehensive so figured it was worth it.

Fast forward a week. To today. I’m driving out of a parking lot making a right-hand turn. I don’t see anything to my right so I start to turn very slowly. I hear some scraping noise so I immediate stop my car and back up slowly. My passenger side mirror looks fine, it’s not hitting anything, so I figure I will back up and then examine the damage…

Instead — “BOOM” — my large passenger side window shatters. A louder scraping noise is heard. I stop the car, get out, and see that a pipe has cut a huge gash into the door and basically made the door a wall (the handle doesn’t work / it won’t open) and glass is everywhere.

I look at the window in shock, then drive back into the parking lot and promptly call my insurance. Which was maybe a really bad idea. I told them exactly what happened… then they told me that this would be a collision claim and I have a $1,000 collision deductible. I’ve never filed a collision claim and I know I pay a lot in comprehensive so that if damage happens to my car that isn’t an accident I’m covered. I’ve had a few break-ins in the past and they’ve all been covered at 100%. Even hitting a deer and the damage from that was covered entirely. This, however, would have a $1000 deductible.

So I stopped and said, well, I think the front window had a crack in it from the break in. Ok, so it was a stretch. But I figured at that point it was worth trying to get this covered under my comprehensive policy. Even if they would just fix the windows for me under the comprehensive and I could leave the car door as is. The woman on the other line said that she’d add a note about this to the other claim. I am not clear if she opened a collision claim but it sounds like she maybe just tacked on the report to the comprehensive claim. I’m supposed to get an appraisal tomorrow from a place my insurance company referred me to.

Now the questions I have are…

1) Does it make sense to get my car fixed at all through insurance?

2) Should I just get the break-in damage repaired and not get anything repaired through insurance that was caused by this pipe?

3) Should I get everything appraised and wait to hear if they will cover it all under comprehensive (they won’t… not with the giant gash in my car door) and then figure out what to do?

4) Should I just say f’it and buy a new (used) car? I bought my car in 2005 with 130k miles on it for $7k. It’s the first car I ever owned so it has its share of new-driver dings on it, not counting today’s giant gash. It now has 170k miles on it so I can’t imagine it will last that much longer. It’s a Toyota so maybe it will last to 200k, so I could see it lasting another 3-4 years if I’m lucky, or longer if I don’t drive it that much. Blue book trade-in value for the car in “Fair” condition is something like $1500. I am not sure what condition the car is in right now… looks-wise I’d say it’s in pretty “poor” condition but the insides are doing fine. It’s definitely not driving quite as smoothly as it did when I first got it in 2005, but it is a nicer drive than some other cars I’ve been in. Would it make sense to donate my car to charity (or trade it in at a toyota dealership for the pennies they are willing to pay me) and move on with my life? Ignore all the claim filing and just start fresh?

5) Should I get rid of the car (charity or trade-in) and not have a car at all? In reality, this doesn’t make sense right now because I live in the ‘burbs on top of a giant hill and it’s pretty impossible to get around without a car. I’m sure it’s do-able, but it would be very difficult. And my commute to work with a car is already 1 hour.

6) But… should I get rid of my car and move to the city? I really like my current apartment… it’s cheap ($700 a month with utilities about), in a really beautiful area, my roommates are mellow and we get along fairly well, my room, while small, faces greenery and all-in-all my place makes me happy. It feels like a home. Any place I get in the city will be more money, or smaller, or in a worse neighborhood, or all of the above. I could just move closer to a train stop so I could walk to the train… which provides a lot more options… but that still requires moving, and finding a place I like, and finding roommates I can get along with, or living alone, which I’ve decided I don’t really like doing, and costs a lot on the utilities front. But if I move some place near public transit I could get rid of my car and just not have to deal with the hassle of owning one.

7) Or should I just go to a car shop and get everything fixed myself, even if it costs a lot, and just eat the costs of getting the fixes done without going through insurance? — Is it too late to do that … I already reported the claim… but I’m not sure they filed anything under collision yet, or at what point they will in this process. If I don’t decide to get the car fixed, will they still file the claim as collision if it gets appraised and the repair shop reports that the damage was caused by a collision (probably) — I can’t exactly ask the insurance company how this will work.

What do you all think? I really need advice here. Thanks!

Stolen Car Registration Sticker Cost me $40!

First off, I’m really sorry I am so awful at updating this blog. I try to update my tweets more often www.twitter.com/everycentcounts because it’s easier to write 140 words than a blog entry. Still, this blog needs some TLC. And I also am trying to figure out what happened to www.personalfinancereader.com because I paid for the domain through blogger and it isn’t working.

Anyway, the topic of my post today is how ridiculous it is that you are required to pay for a new registration sticker when it gets stolen from your car. Not only that, but if you get a ticket for it you’re required to pay that too. I admit it was my fault that I got two tickets for it (I didn’t have time to go to the DMV for a week and then I got another one) but still… my car was registered, so it’s obvious that I had the sticker.

Finally went to the DMV and that took forever and a day. Had to pay $18 for a new sticker. Lame. Now I have to pay $20 for the two fix-it tickets.

I’ve heard that you should cut your sticker w/ a razor to prevent people from stealing it. So I’ll be doing that soon.

I actually got pulled over for having an expired sticker but the cop was nice about it. I told him my registration sticker was stolen and he said that’s been happening a lot lately with the economy and all. He gave me the same “cut it with a razor” advice, and no ticket from him, but… if it’s happening a lot, then why make people pay for someone else’s crime. Come on.

Well, here’s my charity for the year. I’ve paid the CA government over $500 in various ticket fees, including these, thus far in 2009! I’m a good citizen.

$1k Car Repairs and a Broken Radio

My car started having “issues” a few months ago. In the mornings, sometimes it wouldn’t want to turn on. I’d try a few times, hold my breath, and eventually it would work.

But then the other day it just – kaput – gave out. It was time to get it towed to a repair shop and see what was wrong, and just how much it would cost me.

So my insurance company sent out a tow truck, and the guy jump started my car so I could drive it to the auto repair shop I read about on Yelp that was beyond the “free towing” distance. I drove it there, safely, and found out that the inspection would be $100 just to find out what’s wrong.

I agreed to that (it seems normal) and got a call a few hours later letting me know that… I needed new back breaks ($$), I should get a 150k checkup ($$) and I probably needed a new starter ($$$$) and my battery chords were all messed up so they had to get replaced too ($$). The total price came to $1018 to fix/check out my car.

I can’t help wondering if I got ripped off. I know it costs a lot to repair cars, and my car wasn’t starting, but that’s a lot of money. Still, I think it was worth it for my car. The guy said the engine and battery look good and should last me.

The only thing I’m pissed about is that when I got my car back my radio was broken. So, it was kind of on the fritz before, but it had been working no problem. Now it won’t turn on. I haven’t gone back to ask about that because I’m sure he’ll say that he didn’t even touch the radio – but really, it’s not turning on, at all. I don’t really want to pay to get that fixed too!

When Paying Late = Saving Money

I set this afternoon aside to organize all of my late bills and pay off what I can. My auto insurance bill was two payments behind (out of sheer laziness on my part). So I called up and requested to pay it off. It turned out they had my wrong address down, and then when they found out I moved (closer to work) I was told that I could get a discount for driving a shorter distance each year.

So I’m saving something like $100 a year just for calling up because I was late paying my bill. Also, I found out if I pay online w/ auto pay (which I was planning on signing up for anyway, it just wasn’t working because they had my old zip code down), I can save $50 a year. Sweet.

I’m still probably paying too much because I have full comprehensive coverage in case my car gets broken into again and I have to get the window repaired. After having it broken into two without the full comprehensive coverage I signed up for it, and low and behold it got broken into again and I got it fixed for “free.”

Meanwhile I just paid off my dermatologist bill and put my medical claim filings into an envelope to be sent out. Now I just have to get my health insurance set up on auto pay and I’m set… as long as I have enough $$$ in my checking account. I’m keeping it fairly low, which is scary for me. I usually keep a few thousand dollars in savings with free overdraft in case I overdraw my checking. I refuse to let myself rack up credit card bills, so I use my debit card for just about everything. That kind of sucks when my bank account runs dry, but otherwise works quite nicely.

Crap. I got pulled over.

I can’t blame anyone else for this mishap. My registration expired… a while ago. However, I paid the $120 registration fee at the DMV (which, I think included a late fee) and was to get my smog checked by Jan. I had until Jan 1 to get my smog checked and get my stickers for my plates.

Of course, being the procrastinating idiot that I am, I waited a little too long to get this done. I received one ticket (for $35) for my expired registration while my car was parked in a public lot. So I finally got around to getting my smog checked THIS MORNING. I paid $90 for my smog check & an oil change that was overdue.

Ten minutes later, I was driving on the freeway and I got pulled over.

I showed the cop my smog receipt and the little registration card (that may or may not have been expired… I’m a bit confused about whether it expired on the 1st of the month, or at the end of the month.)

The worst thing was that somehow my insurance card had gone missing. I kept it in my glove compartment, but the robbers threw everything out of my glove compartment when they went through my car last month. I thought I had put everything back, but apparently my insurance information was missing.

So now I have this “notice to appear” paper that says that I have an infraction for an expired registration and it also notes that I did not have insurance on me, though neither the infraction or misnomer boxes are checked for that. I’m not sure what that means.

The cop said that I should get my sticker and then go to any police department with the paper. He didn’t really explain whether I’m going to owe a zillion dollars or if I just need to prove that I’m actually registered to avoid paying.

This really sucks because today I decided I’m going to start being really tight on my budget and living with a minimal amount in my checking account. I figure I’ll spend less if I pretend I have less to spend. Simple psychology ought to do the trick.

Except now I’m worried I’m going to get an overdraft fee because of all of these unexpected expenses. That’ll teach me to stop procrastinating, eh?

I owe quite a bit of money for different things… $200 for health insurance… $150 for my cyst removal bill… $35 for my ticket… and now who knows how much more for this other ticket-type-thing.

Right now I have $600 in my checking account. I’m supposed to get paid Monday for my work… so that would bring me up to $3900. BUT I plan on putting $1000 of that in a special ING savings account for taxes. That leaves me with $2900, and I have to pay rent in a few days. So I’m at $1850. Not so bad, but after I pay all those bills, plus my phone bill, plus the cable/internet bill, plus the gym bill, plus buy a new phone in two days (my old one is lost and I am eligible for the discount on a new phone on Monday)… well, I won’t have much money left for food.

At least this setup will keep me from spending money on clothes I don’t need!
At least that will keep me from