“Put down the cell phone!”
“Don’t you see me, you idiot?”
Then comes the sickening moment when you realize that there is no way to avoid this CRAAAAAASH!
Regrettably, this scene plays out all too often, every day. While automobile crashes are occasionally tragic, most accidents result in no major injuries, a police report, an insurance claim…
AND…a thousand dollar mistake.
Driver training across the country focuses on turn signals, mirrors, seat belts and all the other modern safety tools that help a driver avoid a traffic accident. However there isn’t much discussion on what to do when you are now the crestfallen owner of a twisted hunk of metal instead of the reliable car that you used to drive.
Because you aren’t in the wrecked car business and because no one teaches what to do in an accident, this is the point where you are about to be charged hundreds of dollars in fees for something you can get for free!
When the police arrive they are going to ask if you have a tow company you want to call. Of course you don’t. How many of us have a favorite tow company and can successfully recall it in a crisis?
So the police officer will have a local tow truck dispatched to the scene to remove your now crumpled car. The tow truck will deliver the car to an impound yard and behind the scenes the city, the tower, and the impound yard will be drafting up their invoices to bill you for their “help.” In the Dallas/Fort Worth area these charges will run close to a thousand dollars!
If you carry only liability insurance then you are personally liable for these fines because your insurance company is not required to pay. For totaled older model vehicles the fines to get your car out of impound are probably greater than the vehicle’s value. For most consumers this ends up feeling like a one-two-three punch combination. First punch – your car was totaled in wreck. Second punch – you are being charged a thousand dollars for a vehicle that is useless to you now. Knockout punch – you need to buy a new car but the city, tow, and impound fees eat up a big chunk of your cash and if you avoid paying them a collection agency will get involved and your credit will suffer.
Not only can these fees be completely avoided, you can even make a few hundred extra dollars if you know what to do.
If you carry only liability insurance use your cell phone and call an auto recycling center from the scene of the accident. Confirm they have a licensed tow truck driver and free towing for cars they buy. Once you have confirmed these basics negotiate the sale of your totaled car. Even in a twisted heap your car is still worth a few hundred dollars in scrap metal and the automobile recycling center will deliver your cash with the tow truck.
When the recycling center tow driver arrives he will have you sign over the title and a bill of sale. Then he will give you the cash promised on the phone and tow your car for free.
No city fee for scheduling the tow. No towing fee from a commercial tower. No impound fee because you sold the vehicle for its salvage value. Bad things happen, like getting into a wreck, but you don’t have to accept the status quo solution that puts consumers at a disadvantage. Know how to handle yourself after a wreck and you will walk away from an accident with a few hundred dollars and a lot less problems.
To make this work requires about three minutes of your time now while you are thinking about it. Just look up the number for a reputable recycling center in your area (we are all using that term now but the good operators don’t get offended if you call us junk yards or salvage yards). Now put the number into your phone and you have all the info you need to make a smart choice if you find yourself standing in the median, healthy but distraught over your unfortunate crash.