It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here!
My car insurance settlement has finally arrived.
Ok, let me back up a step. For those of you who don’t know, on July 10th, 2011, I totalled my fiance’s car in an accident and broke my wrist. Well, I didn’t total it, it was the other driver’s fault, but the result is the same.
The car was written off and we were issued a meagre cheque for the old neon. We bought a new-to-us Volkswagen City Golf, and the stress of not having cash on hand to float us in the mean time is what really got me interested in personal finance. You can read more about the saga here.
Getting the car situation sorted was stressful. We didn’t have a cash cushion to fall back on, but we got that matter behind us in fairly short order. Unfortunately, there was other lasting damage from the accident in the form of my broken wrist.
The Worst Bone To Break
I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. I waited in the emergency room for eight hours. An x-ray revealed I’d broken my scaphoid bone. I won’t go into the long and drawn out saga of my care. I went to the hospital many times over the next three months, because this bone is like the absolute most finicky bone to break, and the chances of it healing perfectly and completely were slim.
Fortunately, I live in Canada, and all of the hospital visits, the multiple casts, the MRIs and the X-rays, were free. No one had to pay – well, except the tax payers (Thanks guys!)
Getting a Pain and Suffering Settlement
Since I was injured by the other driver, I was entitled to a pain and suffering claim from the other insurance company. In my province, no matter who is at fault, your own insurance company covers the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle, and the other insurance company is in charge of the pain and suffering settlement. I’m entitled to the settlement because I’ll likely develop arthritis in that hand early in my life, and the emotional damage from that needs to be compensated.
In my province, to keep car insurance costs reasonable, there’s a $2,500 cap on pain and suffering for soft tissue damage. Don’t ask me why, but a broken bone is considered soft tissue. I know, it’s dumb, but these are the parameters within which I was working.
It took me 16 months to finally get my settlement. During that time, my claim was not filed for a month, then it was lost, then it was transferred to three separate branches. When it finally was assigned to an adjuster, it took several months to get the associated paperwork from the doctors and police officers, and most of that information had to be obtained by myself and sent to the insurance company directly.
It was a giant hassle, and I was tempted to give up, but I persevered and today I finally get to deposit my settlement cheque.
Tips for Getting a Good Car Insurance Settlement
- Don’t Give Up. In these sixteen months, I called the insurance company every two weeks. I didn’t get angry, I just called to make sure they were doing what they said they would do last time I talked to them. Nine times out of ten, they hadn’t gotten around to it yet, and my calling would prompt them into action. If I hadn’t called so frequently, I’d still be waiting.
- Arm Yourself with Knowledge. I spent a lot of time reading up about what someone with my injury was likely to receive in terms of compensation. That way, when they tried to low ball me, I knew what I was talking about.
- Don’t Minimize Your Injuries. I didn’t embellish my injuries, but I was upfront and honest about them, especially the emotional part, which can’t really be collaborated with physician reports.
- Be Flexible. I knew what I was worth, but in the end I could expedite things if I accepted a little less money. Since I’d waited 16 months, I was comfortable with lowering my expectations in favour of a quicker resolution.
- Consult a Lawyer. Injury lawyers and typically more than happy to discuss a case, even if they decide not to take it on. My case wasn’t lucrative enough for an injury lawyer to be interested in. The ones that I consulted with at the beginning of the process gave me enough free advice to give me peace of mind that I wasn’t being screwed over.
I ended up with a $2,000 settlement. It’s not much, but then, I’m not that injured. I barely notice my broken wrist on a day to day basis. It gets tender on wet and rainy days like today, but other than that, it doesn’t bother me all that much.
I’ve already divied the money up. (What did you expect?) $1,200 will go to my student loans. This makes me happy because it brings my current total owing on my student loans down to $14,207.00, a nice little boost to get keep me excited about debt repayment. It also means that by next month, I’ll have paid off half of my student loans in a year.
When I started out on this debt repayment journey, I never thought that would be even slightly possible, so I’m super excited about that. I don’t think I’ll be able to get the other half paid off in another 12 months, but anything can happen right?
The other $800 I’m going to divide between myself and my fiancé for some spending money. We’ve been living awfully frugally lately and there are a number of things we’d both like to buy for ourselves. I’m going to get some new running shoes, and some curtains for the bedroom to start.
Being in a car accident sucks, especially if it’s not your fault and results in an injury. Dealing with insurance companies also sucks. But, with a little patience and a lot of follow up, I managed to get some compensation for the trouble the accident caused me, and my car insurance rates didn’t even go up!
Have you ever had to try to negotiate a car insurance settlement? I want to know!