Disasters arrive without warning. And they often arrive gently, like the merest tap on your shoulder. It’s only when you turn around, that you realize just how bad it is.

On the twentieth of June at 12:02 PM I got an odd text from my oldest daughter: “I broke the car.” My first thought was that something had gone wrong with it, such as a warning light popping on, or maybe a flat tire.

But soon, I discovered just what her text meant. About a mile from our house, as my daughter was driving along at about 45 miles per hour (which was the speed limit) she entered an intersection. The light was green.

But at the moment my daughter entered the intersection, a woman in another car decided to turn left right in front of her. The other driver failed to notice that someone—my daughter—was coming the other way.

My daughter stepped on her brake and swerved in a desperate attempt to miss the inattentive driver, doing exactly what she’d been taught to do in her driver’s education class. Unfortunately, despite her best effort, my daughter could not miss the other car completely, given the laws of physics.

Had my daughter not reacted as quickly as she had—remarkable given how little time she had—she would have slammed straight into the side of that woman’s car. As it was, she smacked its back end, taking out the right front end of her own car, putting it into a spin, and deploying her airbag.

Thankfully, neither my daughter nor the other driver were injured significantly in the accident. My daughter sustained a small bruise on her right knee and strained the muscles in her abdomen. That was probably from her seatbelt locking up as it was designed to do.

The police arrived relatively quickly, along with other emergency vehicles. Neither my daughter’s car nor the other driver’s car were in drivable conditions.

The police officer who helped my daughter let her know that the other driver was the one that was at fault. He expressed surprise at how calm and collected my daughter was. She didn’t panic at all.

My daughter’s boyfriend picked her up and brought her home. I contacted our insurance company immediately and let them know what had happened.

And so the process of recovering from the accident began.

Most thankfully, the other driver had insurance. In fact, we were in contact with the other driver’s insurance within an hour—long before the other driver. In fact, for the next three days, the other insurance company could not get hold of their client. Despite that, and despite our description of the accident, and despite our insurance company’s efforts, the other insurance company was initially reluctant to accept any responsibility. However, once they got the police report—about a week after the accident—their reluctance evaporated. They accepted full liability.

Even when things go smoothly—and things did go remarkably smoothly—there are still annoyances when an accident happens.

There was the complexity of getting a rental car.

Despite the fact that our insurance company was paying for the rental car, we still had to put down a deposit of fifty dollars. Then, after my daughter went back to her grandmother’s house (where she is staying, since her college is near there) the rental car started having rather significant mechanical problems: the steering was wonky and it shimmied weirdly at freeway speeds. So my wife had to go down to Orange County and help my daughter exchange it for a different rental car; my daughter couldn’t do that on her own, since the insurance is in our names.

Thankfully, there was no additional expense in replacing the rental car, beyond that involved in my wife making a hundred mile round trip.

Then there was the complexity of our deductible. Since the other driver was at fault, we had been led to believe that we would not have to pay a deductible. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Instead, we had to pay it first. Then we got to wait for the other insurance company to pay our insurance company for everything that our insurance company was initially forking out, and the deductible we were forking out. Once the other insurance company paid up, then, and only then, would our deductible be reimbursed.

Still, that was mostly just an annoyance, since it took barely a month from the time we paid the deductible until the time it was reimbursed. Thus, in the end, we were out no money at all. Nevertheless, it was an unanticipated and unplanned expense that wrought havoc with our cash flow.

All in all, the process couldn’t have gone much smoother than it did. Certainly it would have been preferable had there been no accident at all. But our health insurance took care of my daughter’s examination after the accident and the pain killers that were prescribed to her. The other insurance company paid off on all of that. And happily, my daughter was essentially undamaged. Though she remains a bit nervous as she approaches intersections.

Her car was repaired perfectly within only two weeks’ time. One would never know, looking at her vehicle, that it ever sustained 7100 dollars’ worth of damage.
In the end, the only consequence of an accident that could have been far, far worse, was the temporary disruption: the attention it required, the time it required, the stress, and the temporary outlay of money, since recovered. Our insurance took care of things just as insurance companies are supposed to. Insurance is well worth the cost.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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