So I Had a Car Accident Over Christmas (a big one)

Don’t worry everyone is fine! But it sort of is my very first one… and it freaked me out. Here is the long and short of it, what I’ve learned from it and some nitty gritty insurance details. I had a run in with a big deer on the highway as fast as you can be going with literally no warning. I had people in the car with me including my eight year old niece and mother in law. It’s an accident I’ve spent a lot of time fretting over as a worst case senecio. You also hear so many terrible things about dealing with insurance companies from others, this was my very first claim, so here’s my experience.

I think it will happen to us all eventually, no matter how good a driver you are it’s all a bit of a numbers game. I’ve heard every 7 years, 125,000 km and three times in your driving career but chances are you’ll be involved in one or a few eventually. Almost everyone either had one or knows a few people who did. Read on but this is just my experience. I’ve learned that no matter what life hands you even the darkest clouds have silver linings and this was no different. My insurance company, and everyone (almost, has been great) even though the timing was decidedly not!

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Driving History

I live in one of those places where you have to drive A LOT. I added it up and since I was 16, 18 years ago… I’ve driven about 600 000 km! That’s about 15 times around the equator if you’re interested! And I’ve basically only ever had one other accident and maybe that shouldn’t count. Sure I’ve bumped into a few things like 9, mostly in reverse but never enough to cause more than a bumper scratch of that. One time in my undergrad I dropped off my boyfriend at the time at his house on wet roads, got out to check to see if they were icy in his subdivision, they weren’t there but they turned out to be on the main road. And when I turned out I lost control of my 1995 Nissan Pathfinder, over corrected a few times and came to rest on a 45 degree angle in a deep snowy ditch. I had time to think 4-low will get me out of this, and then the truck sort of gently tipped over on it’s side. We had it righted, knocked out a few dents, didn’t bother reporting it to the insurance and I drove it for another year and a half. I did have to climb out my window and the ashtray did knick my head but it wasn’t really an accident more like us physics people say, “gravity sucks it never blows”.

I consider myself a good driver, but a scary 80% of us say we’re above average and by definition that can’t be true. I took the top tier driving classes, thanks to my mom, at young drivers of Canada on a standard, again thanks mom! I’ve never had a speeding ticket, only two parking tickets and no other driving infraction in all that time. I buy the best winter tiers out there and limit my slippery driving overall and on at least 50 occasions have avoided accidents with other drivers that passengers were impressed with.

Driving Anxiety

But… I do consider myself a somewhat anxious driver, again thanks mom! She was a worrier and would call us home the very moment she saw a snowflake if letting us out at all based solely on the forecast. She filled us with what if’s and dwelled on the how easy it could happens of every news storey. Plus don’t you know how bad and drunk all the other drivers are? Anyway some of that seeped in though other stuff stuck way less. Winter driving gets to me and I’m the person you’re swearing at. I’ll drive as slow as I need to avoid sliding sometimes 40 km/hr or in extreme cases even slower. Mostly I don’t go out if the roads are that bad but we all get caught up in bad weather from time to time. I slow down for rain and wind depending on the vehicle I’m driving. I call it a speed limit, not a speed have too, but that’s what I usually go. I don’t make a habit of speeding, I almost never go over the limit unless it’s by accident. Mostly because if I have and extra $300 I don’t want to spend it on fines and should something happen speeding would make it harder to live with. I follow all of the rules of the road to the letter for the same reasons. I’m not a transplant surgeon and there is no chopper with a cooler waiting on the roof for me to get there, which I’m fond of reminding people who are occasionally mocking of my careful driving style.

I’ve spent a lot of hours thinking and stressing about what might happen. My worst fears were a catastrophic flat or a blow out on a sharp turn and hitting a deer on the highway. The flat happened a few years ago and turned out fine by the way. Spoiler alert Harold rescued me that day too. I worried about how I would react, would I take others down with me would I handle it poorly and do more damage. What if I had people with me.

The Accident

We were heading into the DMV to renew my mother in law’s licence with honey’s niece on the 103 in my forester. Everyone was belted in and using a booster seat and we had just gotten to the divided section where the limit goes to 110 km/hr (68 mph) and I was going about 108 km/hr with the cruise control set so I wouldn’t speed. Truthfully, my first indication that something was wrong was the bang. I even asked my mother in law, “what the hell was that,” and she said a deer. I didn’t even see it after. Looking in the rear view all I saw was car parts behind me. I just braked gently and pulled over to the side and that was it. A nice man that I have no way of tracking down and thanking pulled up to make sure we were all ok, he told me to pull over more if it would start and that the deer was a big doe, in the median and dead. Apparently a bunch of people got on a local facebook group to talk about it and they said it looked like special effects from a movie, that I had no time to do anything, that they were surprised we were all ok and that the deer exploded. That last part I believe since there was hair, blood, guts and even poo all over my truck when it was over.

The damage was bad and the first thing I saw was the poo on my door. My frame was visible and fluids were dripping from the front. I pulled off as far as I could and called Richard telling him we were all ok, what happened what I was going to do next and that I guessed the truck was a right off, then hung up and called CAA (our version of AAA). I told everyone to stay in the truck and wait.

My next call was to CAA, I always ask for our one local tow guy since he’s usually closest, and I know he’ll drive me home and give me a shoulder to cry on if I need it. Harold Myers has been my knight in shining armour a few times over the years for this damsel in distress. Flat tiers, dead alternators and the like always mean a rescue from Harold! He also walks that fine line between acquaintance and full on friend for us in our small community. We chat for a long time at the grocery store and he always stops to watch honey play with his RC Boats. Even before this I viewed him as my personal hero and about 8 feet tall.

It was a bad day for this happen because our province shuts down for the 24th, 25th and 26th of December and that day, the 27th was the first real day back. Combined with a bad Christmas day storm meant everyone, especially the insurance people were backlogged.

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Ouch! That turned out to be over $8000 worth of damage!

The Aftermath

My mother in law kept telling me over and over and loudly to tell everyone the deer hit me, which I did but I had to tell her I didn’t think it mattered since I know the deer didn’t have insurance. I was also conscious of the fact that as upset as I was and I did want to cry, I should keep it together for my little niece so she wasn’t more scared than she had to be. She however was the calmest of the three of us. When I talked to her later I asked her what the worst part of her day was (the deer) and the best part (riding in the biggest truck she ever saw).

My next call was to my insurance company buy I was still on hold when Harold showed up so I just hung up. I hopped out and did the paper work with him and let a few tears slip. Harold said he was happy to see it for himself but the first thing he asked the operator when he heard the name was if I was okay -cue the tears! We got settled including the booster seat in the big truck and pulled my sad little truck up on the flatbed and Gracie got a full view of the damage despite my best laid plans. I had told Richard to come and get the ladies and to pull up behind us so Gracie wouldn’t see the damage to the truck but I texted him to meed us at my mechanics instead. Richard’s brother came and got the girls and took them into town.

My mechanic Peter Mason, who as always was amazing, and they boys were waiting for us with coffee. He reminded me to leave the keys and comforted me too. My mom came to get me and Richard and drive us home and that was it. I remembered my phone, purse and insurance documents but not my mail key in the console. It ended up being two days before I picked up the rental and I realized that was the longest I went without wheels since I was 16. Well 14 but I didn’t have a licence until I was 16.

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My Mechanic rocks, check out his site here!

The Insurance Company

When we got home I called the insurance company back to make a claim, which I was dreading. You hear so many horror stories and one of my first thoughts was oh no I just got this policy in July. I knew my previous insurer was seriously gouging me based on talking to others. I had been paying $85 a month for my virtually worthless old car with a perfect driving record. My sister meanwhile drove a used lexus, had speeding tickets and rear ended two people but was paying about $60. Since I knew my mom was giving me the truck I had time to shop around. I choose Sonnet mostly because you could do it ALL online and I picked the middle of the road policy out of the three options with out much thought. Hell I’d never need it, right? Wrong!

They answered fast this time and expressed concern. They told me that point blank that now we were going to to the scary legal question part and was this a good time? If I wanted to we could do it later. The man was sweet and I answered all the questions truthfully about my speed, whether I drank or ingested drugs in the the last 24 hours, when was the last time I did (about 4 years ago). Right then I realized my careful law abiding, possibly spinster old lady ways were the right ways. I got the impression then and later that their agents read from a funny-ish script. Once the questions were done for example he said, “Whew, now that that’s over, let me put your mind at ease right away.” He told me that since I hit an animal it wasn’t my fault legally and as such my premiums wouldn’t go up. Exactly what my policy entitled me to, like 30 days of rental and that I could decide where it should be fixed if that what it was going to happen. He did ask if I had a picture of the deer or any evidence that it was a deer. I didn’t but the fact that there was hair, blood, guts and guts still on it seemed to satisfy him I wasn’t gaming the system. So if this happens to you take a picture of the deer!

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My insurance company was pretty great and you can buy online in one step it’s kind of great!

They called my mechanic to see if he could fix it, took his recommendation for a body shop, which I took and offered me a rental right away. They were awesome. I didn’t hear anything for the first week which was due to the holiday and the storm. I wanted to be fixed because I don’t like change and that very morning it qualified for a new engine from Subaru. When the estimate went in the shop called me to tell me it was high ($8700) and they might right it off. I called Sonnet and told them if I had a say I wanted it back since it was right on the line and about the new engine so perhaps that would add to the appraised value. The agent said she’d email that to the appraiser right away and that night my body shop guy called to tell me I was approved, I’d be getting it back in two weeks during my evening run, and I was thrilled! That evening I was taking pictures of the storm damage on the beach at the end of our driveway (another BAD storm on the 4th) so perspective was already built in. Another sad side note last week that reminded me other people have real problems, a sign turner was killed at the end of our driveway fixing that storm damaged road.

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I’m not sure what WILL happen with my premiums next year but so far I can’t recommend Sonnet enough. This summer I came home to a new, high quality portable battery pack hanging on my door knob from them as a thank you gift out of the blue! Sure it did that them an extra week to get to it with the holidays, the backlogs and two SERIOUS storms backing things up. In the end they skipped sending someone out to see it to hurry the process along.

The Body Shop

My mechanic has a few show cars that he wins trophies with an he recommended the guy that does his paint work at least. Not that my sad Subaru needed that level of attention but it couldn’t hurt right? Plus Peter is sort of a really picky guy so if he recommends them as good they are probably amazing. I called them to make sure they offered the same guarantees on their work the bigger shops did and gave them the go ahead, within an hour or two they had it picked up and at their place. Given the holidays and storms I called JC Autoworks (every time the owner answered) for updates, had an adjuster been out there, when will it be ready and they called me in a timely fashion too. They seemed happy to fill me in and told me Peter told them to take extra special care of me! Shucks! When they called me to tell me it would be fixed they seemed elated to pass on the great news. They even offered to have the NAPA auto parts guy drop off my mail key at Peter’s for me. When I did go out and get it I saw the truck and as much as I tried to play it cool it freaked me out

When I picked it up the owner Dave took me all through it and told me what was done what he pushed to get covered and what he did for free! I found him to be super straight up and the quality of his work was outstanding. He told me the front bumper was already aftermarket and whoever did it did an amazing job. I had to laugh because as it turns out it was him! My mom took the truck to him to have a couple of bumpers done before she gave it to me. It looks great,  so far drives awesome and he called me 45 minutes after I picked it up to make sure I was happy!

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JC Auto Works did an amazing job, were so respectful and a pleasure to deal with!

Silver Linings

– No re-paying sales tax on a new to me used vehicle (basically a NS government scam IMHO).

– I can keep using the 4 brand new summers and 2 brand new winters I just got.

– Those other two winters will probably be good an extra year since I have barely driven it this winter. Another loaner when they do the engine in February!

  • I learned, again hopefully, to stress when things happen, before it’s just a waste of time
  • I think I really Like my Insurance company? Sonnet.
  • Found a great new body shop! J.C. Autoworks.
  • Mostly everyone was okay (except the deer).
  • When I was sad and anxious Richard bought me Leonard my new office pet to cheer me up. So is that still a no on the fish?
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Me and Leonard in the rental, Richard had to ride in the back! He’s here with me now. Sit Leonard! So well trained!

Big Lessons I Learned

I think it will happen to us all eventually but I realized I literally spent days of my life if you add it up stressed and worried about this very thing happening. When it did I handled it really well and all that worrying is for nothing, same as the tire a few years ago. I’m going to try to remember that going forward.

It’s a cliche but it’s just metal and no matter what as long as everyone is okay it can be replaced or fixed.

I also learned that driving a rental with out winter tiers is the pits, I can’t go anywhere a lot of these January days. I’ve even missed out on some income and work because of it! I’m going to keep buying those Blizacks and think that the law should require them, like in Quebec. If it did rental companies would have to outfit their fleet. I might even write someone about that!

I learned that my careful, cautious law abiding ways do pay off, no one was hurt there were no insurance complications and I’m going to keep doing it!

I also learned that my village is there to support me which sort of made this no big deal to a certain extent. Everyone took really good care of me. drove me around and the neighbours even offered me their truck to drive. When there were no rentals in the city being nice to they guy instead of nasty got me put on the city wide waiting list instead of jut his location. Being sweet to the sales people at other locations got me the inside tips and I found the last rental in the city before the weekend. The tow guy, my mechanic even my family were happy to help me out and so went the extra mile for little old me. Building you village by being nice to people, saying thank you and being a repeat customer means when you need them they will be there. Plus it’s just the right thing to do!

I realized this editing it it’s kind of a rave and it is just that. This is in no way a sponsored post and no one even asked me to recommend them!

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