Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Car smash crap

Just before Christmas I was involved in a fairly minor car accident. A foreign tourist, driving a friends car, started to make a right hand turn from the middle of the road and, as I was overtaking her on the left hand side, changed her mind and turned straight into me collecting the whole right hand side of my car.

While no one was hurt the damage done to both cars was fairly substantial, at least from a financial perspective. Fortunately mine was still driveable - we live a 70km round trip from town where I work and the kids go to school so the vehicle is essential.

There were two wittnesses to the bingle, both of whom offered me support and reassured me that I was not in the wrong. The driver of the other car also apologised and admitted she had not "signalled" and that she wasn't sure where she was going. All admissions were made in the earshot of at least one of the two wittnesses.

Last week I got a call from my insurance company to say that I had been found innocent of fault and that the full cost of repairs would be covered without excess (I don't know if "excess" is something peculiar to Australia - it's a gap payment between the cost of the repairs and the amount the insurance company will pay out).

This was good news. Our excess is several thousand dollars, and, with a trip to Africa coming up in May, was something we couldn't afford. For once things seemed to be happening in a straightforward way.

That is until this morning.

About 10 minutes after arriving at work I received a call from my insurance company to say they had "changed their assessment" and that now they were saying I was at fault and would have to pay the excess on the claim.

I asked why, and they said they had reviewed "the" wittnesses statement and that it seems I had been involved in a "rear end" type of accident. In Australia these kind of accidents are usually deemed to be the fault of the rear car regardless of circumstances. I asked the guy on the other end of the line if they had spoken to the other wittnesses - there were two - to which I didn't get much of an answer. I also reiterated the fact that this was not a "rear ender". The damage to my car was along the entire right hand side and to the other vehicle's front left hand corner.

By this time all kinds of conspiracy theories were rushing around my head. I thought about asking the guy on the other end of the phone if he "knew" I was a church minister (like that would matter!) or that the money he was taking off me for excess was going to be used for an overseas aid and development mission and that he was really taking money away from starving children in Africa.

Thankfully I thought better of it, explained my case again, and put the phone down with the "promise" that the second wittness would be contacted but that I would still have to pay the excess, with it being refunded if the decision was reversed.

I have no intention of paying any excess (we are still waiting for repairs nearly 2 months after the accident) until this whole things is sorted as I know how tightly insurance companies hold onto money, but the whole thing really did leave me rattled.

On top of all this, our power steering pump also decided to give up the ghost today. I have no choice but to continue driving the car with dodgy steering while we wait to see how much the repairs (in time as well as in money) are going to cost us - I aint holding my breath!

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