Mine first real accident was when I was 16 and driving my poor, long-suffering Saab 900. The main street through town was a 45 MPH “highway” with stop lights about every half mile. It was at one of these that my lane suddenly came to a stop. I hit the brakes and pulled up with plenty of room to spare but the woman behind me... did not. In fact, looking in my rear view mirror she wasn’t braking at all and hit me going about 40. This catapulted me into the car in front.

The Saab made it out OK. The front impact pushed the fog lights into the grill, but it was only cosmetic damage. The rear bumper was pushed downwards, but otherwise looked OK. The car that hit me, a Mazda 626, was in pretty bad shape. The driver’s side headlight was on top of the engine and there was various other damage that I don’t fully recall. I believe she had to be towed, but I was pretty dazed at this point so I don’t fully remember. The car in front of me had a minor scratch in the bumper where my front plate hit it.

This is where things get... weird. The driver who hit me was nice enough, but was also on her way back from an AA meeting. At the time I didn’t think anything of this but what it meant is that she had high risk insurance, which was going to be a problem later.

The person I hit hadn’t got out of their car at this point, so someone went to check on them. There were three people in the car and they wouldn’t get out or open the windows more than a crack.

Yup... you guessed it! They were all “severely injured” with whiplash. Of course they are. Oh boy... Their story would change frequently over the next couple of months, but needless to say they were garbage people looking to make a quick buck.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I get a call from my insurance company. Turns out the people in front didn’t get as much money as they wanted from the high risk insurer and were trying to get some from my insurance claiming I was “following too close.” My insurance was actually pretty chill about it, took a statement, and then, apparently, sent them a letter telling them to go die in a fire. Adjuster’s words, not mine. That was the last we heard about it.

So... OK. Time to fix the car. An independent adjuster for our insurance company comes out and takes a look, but says we need to wait for the other insurance’s adjuster to come out. About a month of waiting later we get a check for $500 for “the value of the vehicle” from the AA lady’s insurance.

What what?

Turns out the adjuster was working for both our insurance and hers at the same time. He’d decided that the car was worth $1,000, but it had a cracked windshield so that was, apparently, $500 off the value and proceeded to total it out at $500. They did “generously” also write a check for 15 days loss of use, even though it’d been closer to 60 and the car still wasn’t even in the shop yet.

Good news is we repaired the Saab out of pocket, somehow avoided a branded title, and it is still on the road and in my possession today. I learned a lot about how insurance do(esn’t) work and no one gives a crap about how much you like your car.