Let’s make our case simple: a car insurance policy protects you and your family by giving you a safety net when you need it the most. It saves you time, it saves you from (more) stress, and it gives you a financial “get out of jail free” card to ease the hefty monetary consequences that come with an accident. After all, that’s the way the world works: it dictates that our safety is largely dependant on money, whether we like it or not. The more of it we have, the easier it is to protect ourselves from harm or to recover if we cannot.
Money is a safety net into which we can fall should the unexpected occur, and that brings us to another concrete reality of day-to-day life: the unexpected is going to occur sooner or later, and the surprise is not always going to be a good one. Car insurance shores up that net and keeps it sturdy — sturdy in a way that most of us can’t afford outright. If we don’t need it (and we usually won’t), we nonetheless get the peace of mind knowing that it’s there. But on those rare occasions when we do, that “just in case” caution will turn out to be a blessing just when you need it most.
The law says you must have car insurance
It may be mandatory almost everywhere in the United States, but roughly 1 in 8 people drive without car insurance anyway. That’s a pretty high number, and in some states, it’s even worse: Florida’s figures, for instance, come closer to 1 in 4. That’s a dangerous risk for not only them but also every other person they may pass by while on the road.
Not having car insurance does not inherently make them bad people. Uninsured drivers are not usually reckless motorheads who enjoy living dangerously and hoarding their money to indulge in various vices. They’re everyday people who are as responsible and safe in their driving as the rest of us; they just can’t afford the coverage, but still need a vehicle to get to work and make a living.
Not having insurance might save you a good chunk of money in the short-term, and for many, that’s absolutely necessary. But it’s a dangerous gamble to make. Nobody expects to get into a car crash (unless they happen to be a professional stunt driver), but everybody is probably going to get into at least a few throughout their lifetime. That’s how life works. And when it happens, not having insurance is probably going to hurt a lot — possibly physically, and most definitely fiscally.
Spending money on car insurance now saves you money long-term
Say you go six months, or a year, or even two years without having any kind of accident. In that span of time, paying out for car insurance may strike you as being a waste, since it’s not being used for anything right then and there. But consider the what-ifs: you may not have had one recently, but what if you get into an accident tomorrow? Or next week? What if your son wrecks the car while on the way home from his friend’s house this weekend? What if your wife gets hit while pulling out of the parking lot while going to lunch?
There’s no way of guaranteeing that you’ll never have an accident, no matter how infrequently you drive or how safe you are behind the wheel. “Expect the unexpected,” as they say. So when it happens, it’s better to have something to catch you when you fall and then help you back up, rather than nothing at all.
So, many months, your insurance isn’t doing you any favors because you simply don’t need it — until you do. And you can’t switch it “on” or “off” on a whim and only when you’ve had a collision. When the time comes, the money you invested is going to pay off quite literally, because it’s probably going to be less than you would have had to shell out if you were uninsured.
Car accidents are expensive
Cars are not cheap. Neither is a trip to a hospital. An average auto repair bill can come out to at least $500, and one-third of all drivers can’t afford an unexpected one. A few hours in the hospital or a single surgery can cost several thousand dollars, well into the hundreds depending on the severity, and medical costs are the cause of around two-thirds of all bankruptcies filed in the country.
A car accident can, in the span of a few moments, require you to suddenly deal with multiple bills in both arenas, and, if you’re at fault, leave you to pay for both yourself and the other party. That can add up almost instantaneously to hundreds of thousands of dollars that you probably don’t have. In the best case, you’re still losing several thousand dollars: money that you had spent years painstakingly tucking away for college, or a new car, or a house, or any number of other important, planned-for purchases. One slip can bring all of that planning crashing down.
Car insurance and the promise of help
With a good policy on your side (particularly if it includes coverage for uninsured drivers), you may still need to pay something from your own pocket. However, the bulk of the possibly vast sums that very quickly add up will be covered for you, whether it’s in the form of money that you owe another driver or money that you personally need for recovery and moving on with your life.
That, ultimately, is the protection that car insurance provides: financial stability. A crash is something that can very easily snowball into further disaster in the blink of an eye even if your car is salvageable and nobody was seriously injured, with bills and outstanding debts and the inability to afford the necessities piling on too quickly to manage.
That’s why most of us need help, and that’s why a fallback is key to keeping yourself and anyone who may financially depend on you living a full and healthy life. Expecting the unexpected requires more than just knowing that something could happen; it requires you to actually plan for it, too. And that’s an investment we should all be making.
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