So, I straight up almost killed someone last week Friday as I was pulling out of the parking lot on the way home from work.
The time was 4:30 pm. It was dusk and it was getting harder to see. My headlights were on. I stopped at the stop sign. Looked both ways. Seeing no one, I proceeded to cross the Northbound lanes that were under construction. Those lanes of road were flanked on all sides left and right / north and south by various construction vehicles that were parked at the time. There is a stop sign which is before an area of road construction that has been going on for about 6 months, followed by another stop sign to get to the main road.
However, after I made my first stop and was crossing the northbound section, which was under construction- someone came whizzing up the cement slab. Really fast. Without even bothering to stop and look to see if anyone was coming. And they were not in a car. They were in a golf-cart looking Gator (forgive my lack of knowledge of construction machinery).
I slammed on my brakes and barely missed hitting him by a few feet. My heart was pounding.
I had almost hit him. I had honestly came a second and feet from hitting someone.
And if I had hit him- I probably would have killed him- considering I had taken off from the stop sign with some force and he was not protected by the safety features of an automobile.
I drove, in a shaken state, the rest of the way home- saying a little prayer of thanks. But halfway home, I started thinking about how grateful I was that I had an Umbrella policy.
I know, I know- I sell these things for a living. I have to say that.
But this time- I was super close to actually have to use it.
If I had actually hit this guy and killed him. Or permanently disabled him- the limits on my auto insurance policy would have been exhausted. And I have really high auto limits. I carry 250/500 auto limits. This is higher than most people. It is certainly higher than the minimum requirement that the State of Wisconsin sets out for people (25/50).
What those limits mean is that in this situation- since only one person was injured, my policy would pay out a maximum of $250,000 worth of damages. If I had the state minimum liability insurance, my policy would pay out a maximum of $25,000 of damages to the person I hit. If you have selected a limit somewhere in between, your policy pays out whatever the total amount of damages are up to your policy limit.
In the instance where someone is killed in an automobile accident, you can be sued for something called wrongful death. In Wisconsin, wrongful death lawsuits start at $350,000 for adults and $500,000 for children. Since in my example, I would have hit an adult, my case would have started at $350,000. Since my insurance limit is $250,000- I would be $100,000 short.
I can tell you that I don’t an easy $100,000 sitting around in my savings account. If I did- I would probably retire. Or at least take that vacation I’ve been mentally planning!
With an Umbrella policy- I am covered for an extra $1 million (or you can purchase larger ones) of liability for instances just like this. Without an Umbrella policy- the judge will garnish my wages until my debt is paid. This could be literally for the rest of my life. The judge can also order that my assets (my house, my cars, any money I have in the bank, 401K’s, etc) be liquidated to pay my judgement. This accident could literally ruin my life (besides the guilt of having taken someone’s life).
Umbrella policies aren’t very expensive when you factor in the fact that they literally save your future. The cost varies with many factors- such as how many people it is covering, how many vehicles, whether it is covering other items such as boats, RV’s, etc and your past propensity for risk (ie- your Motor Vehicle Report). It also would depend on whether you pay for it in full pay or monthly.
Another additional benefit of having an Umbrella policy is that you get an additional discount on your home and auto insurance policies because it is part of a bundle. So you can consider that as offsetting part of the premium. Usually, an Umbrella policy will cost you less than $1/day.
Less than $1/day to feel secure that in 60 seconds I won’t ruin the rest of my family’s lives if I have a tragic accident?
I can find that money somewhere. There is something I can give up to make sure that we are always protected. Because that shaky 10 minute drive home the other night after my near-miss was some of the most scary minutes of my most-recent life. Personally- I’d like to keep it that way.