Tag Archive for 'accident'

How much does the peace of mind cost?

mazda-mpv.jpgHow far will you go for your safety when choosing your new car? Just several years ago I would not have given it much thought.

My first car was Toyota Corolla which I drove for 5 years before trading in for a bigger Accord. There were two reasons really. One - I am tall and there is simply not enough leg room in small Corolla. Second, and it took me a while to admit this to myself, I felt pretty scary each time standing on a highway in the left turn pocket and feeling how passing by cars shake my Corolla as if it was a small boat in the middle of a storm.

We bought our second family car in 2003 and it was a Mazda minivan. This was also mostly a financial decision - Mazda is smaller than the competitors and has slightly better fuel economy. That minivan was declared a total loss by my auto-insurance earlier this month after my wife got into a multiple car accident involving a drunk driver. You can see the van (or what is left of it) on the photo above which I took right after the accident.

Overall in the past two years we have been in a few accidents, every single time reevaluating our life priorities. All the accidents were due to the other driver fault and we consider our driving habits pretty safe. The only variable we can really control is the kind of the car we drive. So one of our priorities became an intention to drive safer cars than what we currently have.

Being a bargain hunter and an overall proponent of everything ‘green’ I did a seemingly irrational thing last Saturday. I bought an SUV as a replacement to our family van. Of course this is not just an SUV. I have done everything I could to make it a bargain among SUV’s. It is a base model cross-over SUV (no bells and whistles to pay for) but it does have All Wheel Drive (safer winter driving) and has good safety ratings. It is one year old and I did haggle like a crazy. For the curious types, it is 2008 Mazda CX-9 and we paid 22.5K.

Now, tell me please. Am I overreacting? Is the peace of mind (even if imaginary for the most part) worth the money I have paid and will be paying for the extra gas to feed this monster? What would you do if you were in my shoes?

An unavoidable expense of $8500

rusty pipeWhen I was leaving for work last Thursday I noticed a big pile of dirt on my neighbor’s front yard. A group of men were gathered around a hole in the ground. I approached to find out what was going on and the men pointed at a stretch of wrecked copper pipe. It looked like someone had bitten a chunk out of it. The pipe connects my neighbor’s house to the water main and had to be replaced.

I later spoke to my neighbor and he said his family noticed a pressure drop, spotted water coming out of the ground in the front yard, and called the service. $8500 is the repairs bill that they are now facing.

Our homes were built 5 years ago at the same time and have exactly the same design. My neighbor said I should start saving money. The service people suspect that the cause is either defective pipe material or poor job the builders have done with the piping, but in either case the owner is the one to take the hit since neither manufacturer nor the builder can be held liable.

I called my Allstate agent and she explained that the home insurance will not cover the cost since no damage is done to the house. This is really bad news for us, and all I can think of right now. My friend told me of a family he knew who had a similar problem with their house and within 2-3 years all homeowners on their side of the street had to eventually replace piping.

A desperate idea to move has visited me tonight; especially since we were planning to do so when kids grow a bit (public schools in this area are not very good), but then I thought that I would need to disclose any problems with the house to the buyer, and while this problem at this point is only hypothetical, it can easily scary away a potential buyer.

So it looks like a deadlock at this point and I can’t think of any way to avoid the upcoming financial disaster. What would you do in my case?

Photo courtesy of atlef at flickr

Share your bargains