Insurance is one of those things that you just don’t think about, except maybe to gripe about premiums, until you need it. Most of us live our daily lives without worrying about accidents that might happen, but eventually, they will. Having insurance makes the difference between an annoyance and losing everything you’ve got.
I found out first hand why insurance is important when my vehicle was rear-ended last May, a few weeks before my high school graduation. Like most high school seniors, I drove a lot: to school, varsity sports, job, community functions, and social events. Since I live in an area where all my activities are spread out and both my parents work, it would have been unreasonable to expect them to drive me everywhere, so I really needed my own transportation. And I won’t lie: having my own car is freedom! However, as a male teenage driver, my insurance premiums are sky high! Sometimes, it meant that I had nothing left over from my paycheck, and had to choose between car insurance and going out with my friends. I hated making that payment every month, and probably might have considered not paying it, except that I knew my Dad would kick me into the next county for being irresponsible. But on that May night, I was glad that I had insurance, and that the other driver did too.
The accident was not my fault. I had come to a stop at a light. The lady in the SUV plowed right into me because she wasn’t paying attention. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but my pickup truck was totaled. But because she had insurance, I was able to get enough money to put towards a new truck. And because I had insurance, I was able to get a loaner vehicle so that I wouldn’t miss any school or work time.
It was just a dumb accident, the kind that happens every day, but it really got me thinking. Suppose I had been the driver at fault and collided with, not some beat-up 20-year-old truck, but a classic Maserati or Lamborghini worth $100,000? Worse, what if I injured someone?? Forget college, forget ever owning a home, forget my whole future; without insurance, I’d be paying that off for the rest of my life.
There are, of course, a lot worse things to lose than a truck. Every day, people lose their homes and everything in them due to fires, floods, earthquakes, or tornadoes. If you have a good homeowner’s insurance policy, you might mourn the loss of family heirlooms and photographs, but at least you can rebuild and pick up your life where you left off. If you’re not prepared, though, you’ll be in for a world of hurt. I think about the residents of Baton Rouge, LA whose homes were washed away by an almost Biblical flood. Most of them had no flood insurance because they weren’t even near the water; what are they going to do now? Some of them will never recover, just as some of the citizens of New Orleans still haven’t been able to go home a decade after Hurricane Katrina. So, it’s important to have insurance to cover not just expected risks, but also things you don’t expect to ever happen to your home. Sure, the premium might be expensive, but it’s cheaper than having to rebuild or buy a whole new house out of your own pocket.
An even more important types of insurance to have is health insurance. This is something else about which I now have first-hand experience. I play college football, and right before the start of the Fall semester, I broke my nose! I wish I could say that it happened on the football field…but that’s another (embarrassing) story. What’s relevant, though, is that the cost to reset my nose, bandage my face, administer painkillers, and send me on my way was over $6,500! Coincidentally, that’s about the same amount of money I had fork over to my college this semester. Luckily, I have health insurance, but what if I didn’t? I would have to pay that hospital bill myself, and would not be attending college now. If such a minor injury could have derailed my college plans, just imagine the financial devastation caused by a serious illness if I didn’t have insurance to pay for it. Cancer treatment costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and although I believe I’m healthy, even fairly mundane illnesses like appendicitis or a tonsillectomy could bankrupt me if I had to shoulder the entire cost myself.
If the experiences over the past year have taught me anything, it’s that unexpected misfortunes can and do happen. I am extremely thankful that I maintained vehicle and health coverage because I’ve learned that I am not as invincible as I thought. It’s not possible to predict the future, so you’d best be prepared for anything. Right now, I am a single guy, and the choices I make affect only me. Someday, though, I will probably have a wife, kids, and a home. Then it will be even more important to protect myself and them through good insurance so that they don’t suffer if something happens to me. Foregoing premiums in order to save a few dollars in the short run just isn’t worth the risk.
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