When I was fifteen years old, I bought my first car. After months of searching online and scouring local car lots, I finally found a perfect used silver Audi. My dad, an accountant, stressed the importance of buying my own first car in order to teach me responsibility in both driving and finances. I paid two thousand dollars of my own money as a down payment on the car. My grandfather gave me a loan for the remaining six thousand dollars. I remember proudly taking pictures with the car, almost feeling like a naïve version of a proud new parent. I drove the car to school and to work once a week, earning just enough to make monthly loan and insurance payments. I never thought much about my insurance payments; in my mind, they served little purpose. To me, insurance was a necessary evil similar to bills or taxes. That autumn, however, I learned just how vital insurance truly is.
My boyfriend was driving my car; he and two other friends and I were on our way to a state park for a youth group event. The excitement of the event and the beautiful fall weather had us in high spirits. One of my friends made a joking comment about a scratch on my dash. As we all leaned in to look, my world quite literally shattered. I looked through the cracked and crumpled windshield to see that we had hit another car. In the moment that we had all looked down, the car had stopped in front of us. I sat in the car, dazed, until my friends’ frantic shouts of, “Get out of the car!” jolted me back to reality. I opened the door, barely noticing the ominous creaking sound. I stepped away from the car and turned back to look at the damaged Audi. The hood had literally crumpled. The headlights were broken, a tire was flat, and the whole car looked strangely twisted. Smoke rose from under the hood, and some kind of fluid puddled on the ground. At that point, however, the weight of the damage barely sank in. I was just thankful that my friends and my boyfriend were uninjured.
After a few days passed, however, grim reality settled in. My car had accumulated over eighteen thousand dollars’ worth of damages, an absolutely astronomical amount for a student working a minimum wage job part-time. Because the damages more than doubled the worth of the car, my beloved Audi was declared totaled. However, the sadness of losing the car paled in comparison to the overriding question in my mind: how could I pay for another car? Surely I would not receive even the full value of the car from the insurance company. I had less than a thousand dollars in the bank; as a high school student who worked only on Saturdays, my opportunities for making money were very limited. Without a car, I would be unable to drive to work and therefore unable to make money at all. No solutions to my conundrum occurred to me.
A few weeks later, my mom approached me with the insurance company’s verdict. Her words stunned me. The settlement totaled an excess of eleven thousand dollars, more than three thousand dollars above what I had originally paid for the car. Suddenly, I realized the importance of those months of insurance payments. Those small monthly checks helped me to regain my financial stability when I had no other way of doing so. I was eventually able to buy a newer Audi using the settlement from my old car, and I even had money left over. That car accident opened my eyes to the value of insurance. If I had not had car insurance, I would have been left helpless until I managed to find the money for a new car. Thanks to my insurance, I was able to get an even nicer car. Accidents like mine are painful for everyone. However, insurance eases the burden. Insurance is important to me because I know that I am secure. If anything tragic happens again, I know I can rely on my insurance to come through. Insurance enables people to look past financial circumstances and focus on the feelings of the people involved.
Having my car totaled at age sixteen truly opened my eyes to the importance of insurance for financial stability. As a student, I had no way to cover the cost of my accident; but the insurance money enabled me to get a new car and regain my financial security. The importance of insurance for all Americans cannot be overestimated. With insurance, Americans can be confident of financial security even in the face of unforeseen circumstances.
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