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Opinion

Auto insurance confirms safety, reliability

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March 27, 2008

Every automobile has its own history in a similar way that every individual has his or her own history. A responsible automobile’s owner should treat and handle it well to prolong mechanical life and should hope that everyone else would do the same.

My first car was a slightly used 2001 Chrysler Sebring and my life savings went into purchasing it. At first I hated the burgundy car; it looked like an old person’s vehicle…but I definitely prided the car on its quick acceleration.

The first day I had it I spent in a ditch after fish-tailing down a gravel road. The Sebring’s plastic grill was bent out of shape and the front license plate was ripped off and left behind, so I needed new ones.

And since the first adventure with my new car wasn’t so lucky, I settled on some plates that then advertised the car as “J1NXED.”

Three months later I broke up with my boyfriend by driving up to his house and putting a note on his car telling him I was finished with him.

He apparently didn’t like that I had made up my mind and he desperately wanted to talk to me. So he hopped into his car and drove like a mad man through the back roads in an angry fit looking for me.

Once he found me attempting to drive past him, he pulled his e-brake and swung his car perpendicular to mine, blocking the road.

What the brilliant soul didn’t realize was that he (1) blocked the road (2) on a bridge (3) in front of my 55-mph traveling vehicle. I had no time to stop and nowhere to go (guardrails blocked my escape rout); our cars collided.

J1NXED was a mere $2,000 away from being totaled and my idiotic ex didn’t have any car insurance to cover the lack of his intelligence. So, my auto insurance company sued him.

Through the years I grew to love my car more and more. I could always depend on her to take me where I wanted to go including a spontaneous post spring break trip to North Carolina my freshman year. The adventures I had behind that wheel were unforgettable.

Two days before last Christmas was the final time I was able to drive my car. The roads were bad and I was driving slower than your grandmother who can’t see over the steering wheel—15 miles per hour.

A pick-up truck entered my lane at a speed too fast for typical winter Wisconsin blizzard conditions.

The drunken fool behind his wheel gave me a head-on-collision to add to my list of “stupid accidents I didn’t cause.” But it was the last accident I would ever be in with J1NXED; she was totaled, gone.

On Christmas Eve I was stranded without a car. I was sad—why should I be punished for something I didn’t cause? Luckily, my auto insurance was there for me again.

My crumpled car bore a toothless grin, bent frame and a smashed windshield while leaking a mix of fluids. But it was covered under the kind of insurance that takes care of irresponsible individuals that don’t think auto insurance is important.

My auto insurance paid for what my 2001 Chrysler Sebring was worth, including the new tire that was put on it in August and the $400 worth of maintenance that was done in November. If I hadn’t had auto insurance, all that money would have been stolen from my pocket and I would be a much poorer college student than I already am.

Insurance is something that I depend on. It’s easier to budget for x amount of dollars a year than lose and pay over $23,700 as a result of one accident.

Six minutes on the phone with my auto insurance representative told me what the cost of auto insurance derives from. Mainly, it’s the year and make of the automobile.

A quick look at each individual car’s VIN# tells auto insurance companies what kind of bells and whistles are equipped in the vehicle. You’ll pay more for a large-rimmed two-door with dual exhaust, a sun roof and leather interior than a four door with cloth seats. Cars with more safety features insure at lower rates while sportier models drive us the price.

A person’s credit score also goes into play with the amount of insurance he or she will have to pay. And of course, an individual’s driving record counts; accidents, DWIs and operating while suspended require larger bills while minor speeding and seatbelt tickets may only cost you a night out.

Although I would love to be zipping around in a sporty car with all the toys included, I’ll gladly deal with my little four-cylinder engine with plastic rims to save some cash. And just in case someone else rams into me for whatever reason, I’ll be safe in my fully-airbag-loaded car with my fully-loaded auto insurance.

Abby Maliszewski is a student at UW-River Falls.