Thursday, October 15, 2009

Total Loss

On Monday, October 11th, I was involved in a front corner to front corner collision in my 1997 Honda Civic.  Everyone involved (me, the other driver, a passenger in the other car) was able to walk away with nothing but the shakes, but both cars had to be towed away.  The other driver turned left from the eastbound side of Imperial Hwy towards Poplar, across three lanes of westbound traffic.  I was in the right hand lane, traveling through the Poplar intersection and we struck, my front driver's quadrant on his front passenger's quadrant.   His airbags went off, but mine didn't (I must have braked and turned away from him to hit on the corner instead of head on.  The Brea Police officer who responded told me that a left turning car is almost always at fault in that situation as a vehicle traveling straight through an un-signaled intersection has right of way over a left-turning car from opposing traffic.  The one issue that might complicate this judgment is that the middle lane had stopped as traffic had backed up to the edge of the intersection in the middle lane (the right lane was still clear).  They might decide I had a responsibility to slow down in that case, and might be partially at fault.  If I were instructing a teenager to drive, I'd probably tell them the same thing.  Cars are stopped?  Slow down, even if you think you know why and think the reason doesn't apply to you.

Tuesday morning, I was sore as hell, with joint, back, and neck pain.  I got in to get a physical exam/manipulation, and to my relief was told that it appeared to be "just" soft tissue damage.  They didn't even take x-rays.  That was a relief.  My car got towed to a repair yard to get inspected for a repair estimate.

Wednesday I was told that the insurance company wasn't going to have the vehicle repaired as the cost estimate ($4,200) exceeded the wholesale value of the car (probably around $2K).  I'd known that was going to happen, so had begun to put myself in car-buying mode.  I cleared all my belongings out and released it to the insurance company for their inspection process.  At some point the claims adjuster for the accident will decided if I'm at fault at all and wave all, part, or none of my deductible.  At the same time, an inspector will decided how close to the bluebook value my car was and make me a cash settlement offer on the vehicle.

In the mean-time, I'm renting a car to get around (insurance benefit) and have begun the car shopping process.  I'm a green sucker, I guess, but I'm looking to purchase a hybrid.  My mother owns both the first and third generation Prius, so I'm biased towards that.  At the same time, the supply is horrifically constrained.  I went by Longo Toyota, the largest Toyota dealership in the world (sales volume), and almost every one of their Priuses were pre-sold.  They had the exact model/color I was looking for available, however (a pre-sold vehicle was pre-sold to someone who didn't qualify for financing).  We'll see whether that's a good thing for me.  The demand means they get the sticker price.  Perhaps I can go through a service (credit union's Autoland or Costco) and get something better.

The supply constraint has me re-thinking whether the Honda Civic Hybrid might be a better buy for me.  The comparable models (Prius III with Navigation vs. Civic Hybrid with Navigation) have about the same sticker price.  I'd almost certainly be able to get a better price on the Civic, and they have a 1.9-2.9% finance special on it.

I'm trying to focus on the positives of the experience.  I nursed my car along for 12 years and got great value from it.  I was in an accident which totaled two cars (probably), but hurt no one.  I've got a job and financial cushion which allows me to not panic at the thought of getting a new car.

I'm a pretty lucky guy.

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