The Vehicle Accident That Changed How I See Everything
I’m beginning to think I did something or someone wrong in the last year because karma, or just plain bad luck, got me displaced from my home, troubled one of my work offices, and nearly got me killed. Think the bad and unexpected cannot happen? It can and did to me, more than once, over three short months.
If you read my blog or follow me on social media you will probably remember that my home took quite a blow last month when a pipe burst during San Antonio’s surprise winter storm. One small pipe caused thousands of dollars in damage to my home and so many items inside it. Had it not been for a thorough insurance policy, and honestly my inside knowledge as a State Farm Insurance Agent and multiple office owner, my family of four could have faced a very uncertain and uncomfortable few months or worse, having suffered extensive home damage. My policy, which included reimbursement for hotels and gas milage as well as coverage for water damage, saved us.
"Snowvid 2021" was not to be outdone by something else, however. Just last month someone broke into my south location work office. Windows were broken. Damage was done. And I am currently working through its aftermath.
The scariest situation I recently found myself in, however, was one that took my breath away and nearly my life. In December, I was involved in a bad auto accident. The harrowing experience changed a lot, including my perspective on what really matters in life - as both a husband and father and insurance agent.
The accident happened when and where I least expected, proving that even the best drivers and those with years of driving knowledge and experience are not not at risk. My accident happened less than a mile from my home.
On this day, as I drove ever-closer to my house, I slowed to stop at a red light. It is one I rarely ever get, green. I'm sure you know similar intersections.
That’s when I saw the headlights.
In a flash, the headlights of an oncoming vehicle were right in front of me. And they weren’t stopping. All I saw next was the outline of an airbag. Multiple bags, thrusting open all around me.
I also thought I smelled something burning.
Knowing I had to get out of the vehicle as fast as I possibly could, I leaned over towards the passenger side door and kicked it with all my strength.
The truck door flew open and I ran out towards safety.
I had been hit, head-on by a moving S-U-V.
For a second, I just stood there along the road. I stared ahead my truck, mangled. Dented. Shaking from adrenaline, I scanned by body and looked for signs of injury. That's when it hit me: I was now a victim of an auto accident. Like the so many people I help daily processing auto claims after an accident, I was now that person. The unexpected happened. And it happened to me.
Fortunately, I wasn’t really in pain. But I could be, later. And that’s important.
I didn’t allow myself more than a second to initially take in the scene. In that moment I knew I had to switch hats, morphing from Jaime Luna dad, husband, and auto owner, to Jaime Luna, insurance agent. As soon as police arrived I began to scan, mentally, an accident checklist that I provide to my auto policy holders. The checklist reminds auto accident victims to do the following as immediately as possible:
As for the ID card from the other party involved in the vehicle accident.
Take a photo of the responsible party’s driver’s license.
Ask the other party for a valid email and good contact number.
Take detailed photographs of the accident scene and from every possible angle.
When talking with police and giving your account of the accident, be specific. Comment on everything you can remember because it could help police piece together what happened. Your recollection is extremely important and can shape the outcome of the accident with insurance companies and in difficult cases, even litigation.
Remove valuables and anything important from your vehicle.
When in doubt, see a doctor.
I did exactly that that last point on the checklist, making an appointment to see my physician the following day.
That same day, despite feeling overwhelmed, tired, and shaken from being involved in an auto accident, I also called my insurance company immediately upon arriving home. This is key for several reasons. Your agent should ask to record the statement. Knowing this, be honest and detailed with your explanation.
There are a few other things accident victims should and can do to ensure the claims process and aftermath of the accident go as smoothly as possible:
Decide to which body shop your vehicle will be taken.
If there is a chance the vehicle is a total loss and may be taken to an impound lot, double-check the vehicle for valuables you may have missed because you may not get a chance to get them back.
Ask the body shop or wherever the vehicle is taken when and how you can get it back.
If you need a temporary vehicle, get the ball rolling right away.
Don’t rush to settle with the at fault’s insurance company. Heed the advice of your insurance company or agent.
As I took care of my health, safety, upcoming transportation details, and filed necessary reports, the claim process got underway with my insurance company, State Farm. Most companies should talk you through your policy and coverage. Agents should also take a look at the responsible party’s policy. This is where things can begin to get a little tricky if you are not familiar with the process. It is especially helpful to have an agent with whom you have an established relationship. It helps to have someone whom you trust and feel will be in your corner, throughout the process. Someone, that, if something needs to be pursued, will do the needed investigation, questioning, or, if need be, initial litigation steps on your behalf. In short, you want an agent who will make the necessary calls making you and your claim a priority.
As an agent myself, I am obviously familiar with State Farm’s customer service strengths and confidence through which it works through claims.
In my accident case, I was not disappointed.
Remember how I said it was important to have a medical professional check an accident victim, especially one hit by a moving vehicle while stopped? Though I felt pretty good at the scene of the accident, I experienced significant soreness in the days that followed. My doctor wanted me to start seeing a chiropractor to help with stiffness and mobility. I didn’t worry about cost. I simply sought the help a physician recommended.
I have an umbrella insurance that can help with costs should the driver who was at fault be underinsured.
In the end, my story ends well, thankfully. I was able to get my vehicle fixed, I was reimbursed for my medical bills, and it was determined that my trusted truck could be fixed at the body shop of my choice.
Those other random incidents that left me with broken work windows and a hole in my dining room ceiling? They too were remedied swiftly, thanks to having a thorough homeowner’s policy and another strong policy on my business offices.
Three claims, three positive outcomes. All because I didn’t play chicken with coverage. Triple-checking that you have adequate coverage for every challenging or bad situation you can possibly think of, is key. I see how impactful this is for my customers on the daily. Now, I know firsthand.
Because you never know when something bad may happen. Once, twice, or in my case, three times, over a short period of time.