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My Wife Survived A Serious Car Crash, But Minimum Auto Insurance Failed Us

Hawaii lawmakers are considering bills that would provide drivers with better minimum coverage.

I was brought up with the mindset that you never take more than you need, and over the years, I maintained that belief — until last year. That was when I realized that “just enough” was not nearly enough when it came to protecting my family.

In February 2023, my wife was injured in a severe car crash with a driver who ignored posted traffic signs, slammed into her vehicle, and sent her into the path of oncoming traffic, where she was hit again, head-on. Her SUV looked like it had been pried open with a can opener. The whole front and driver side of her vehicle were obliterated.

Miraculously, my wife did not need to go to the hospital. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t injured, though. She was hit so hard that the bruises didn’t show up until the next day. She had neck and back strains.

The impact of the crash, coupled with the force from the airbags, caused significant bruising on the entire left side of her body.

We had insurance, but it was only what I thought we needed: $20,000. The other driver had nothing.

There are billions of people in this world, but I never expected that my wife or I would get into an accident. You don’t realize that the $20,000 minimum insurance did little to nothing to help our family when we needed it most.

We still have medical bills coming in. Our car, which was paid off, was totaled. Now, in addition to emergency and ongoing medical costs, we have years of car payments for a replacement car, and thousands of dollars in interest ahead of us.

When I realized how minimal Hawaii’s motor vehicle insurance coverage was, I called my insurance agent and asked for more. I more than doubled my coverage for both of our vehicles, and you know what it cost? About $15 a month for two vehicles and tens of thousands more dollars in protection for my wife and myself.

This should be the norm. It is why lawmakers are considering two bills, House Bill 1539 and Senate Bill 2342, that would provide drivers with better minimum coverage.

More Education Needed

There are a lot of people out there like me who believe that they are doing the right thing by just getting the bare minimum coverage. People do not understand how insurance works.

We need to be educated to understand the ins and outs of the different types of coverage, what they mean, and how they work. The public needs to know what minimum amount they actually need in order to properly protect them and others in the event of an accident.

I can tell you right now, the reality is that the $20,000 minimum does not work and will not work.
$20,000 is just not enough to cover what needs to be covered.

This accident changed the way my wife does things. She has flashbacks and ongoing pain. She went to physical therapy for months and still goes to a chiropractor. We pay nearly $200 every month out of our own pocket and probably will for some time. Her quality of life will never be the same.

People do not understand how insurance works.

We are lucky. My wife survived, and while she will likely be dealing with the aftereffects of the crash for the rest of her life, she is here. She can walk, work, and enjoy life.

But that is not the case for many other families whose loved ones are incapacitated. While there is no amount of money that could make up for that, increasing the minimum auto insurance requirement is a crucial step in the right direction. It is a necessary step, and lawmakers need to act now.

I am a frugal guy, but I am willing to pay more for auto insurance to protect my family. I know times are tough, but if spending the extra $5 to $15 a month adds tens of thousands of dollars in extra protection for your family, isn’t that worth the investment?

It is amazing how far $15 goes when you put it into perspective.

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