Florida is the sunshine state, where millions flock every season to enjoy overpriced rides at Disneyland and see the tourist traps, like ‘world’s largest lawn flamingo’. Florida is the retirement state, where millions of snowbirds show up every November so they have another place to bitch about the weather. Florida is the car accident fraud state, where the mildest of fender benders will result in personal injury litigation that will follow you to your grave.
I got a call from my mother, who was off in my fabulous, slightly used (the engine has turned over twice) Dodge. She had just gotten to experience a common Florida occurrence, which is more common than sunburns at the beach and STDs during spring break.
The roadside shakedown.
The anatomy of a roadside shakedown is as follows. An accident will happen under suspicious circumstances. The shaker will then get out of their car and demand the shakee (it this case my mother), give them $500.
That always seems to be the amount people demand. $500. No more, no less. My mother wisely elected to not turn over the money. I wasn’t there, but I believe her response went something like this.
“(Expletive, racial slur) no.”
She turned over my incredibly awful insurance policy information so they could file a claim. I don’t know exactly what it covers, but as I got the most cut rate, nonstandard plan I could, I imagine it only covers incidents related to ‘act of bird.’
There is a method to my madness.
In a fraud intense state like Florida, having a good policy could actually work against you. Coincidentally, most individuals here wind up having injuries that directly equal your policy limits. For example, if you have a $10,000 policy, the neck injury becomes ‘whiplash’. If you have a $100,000 policy, that neck injury suddenly turns into ‘multiple level cervical herniations and thoracic outlet syndrome’. If you have a $1,000,000 policy, that neck injury becomes ‘cervical fusion surgery with underlying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’.
As I would hate to see anyone have to go through surgery, I make a point of having the bare minimum plan.
“But insurance is supposed to protect you from paying out of pocket! What if they sue you?”
Well then, their ambulance chasing lawyer will take a look at my assets first. Let me due the math.
Current Assets – Current Debt = -$40,000
I am firmly in the red…or the black…whatever color it is when your finances are in terrible condition. My greatest assets include a car that probably Blue Books at $2000 and a twitchy 9 pound dog with an inflammatory anal gland condition (current value, about $25).
You know the most common reason that lawyers drop clients in this state? Because the other party doesn’t have insurance. To be entirely honest, I wish I didn’t carry any at all. Then, I would have offered to pay the other party in acorns or tales of adventure.
Luckily, my mom is ok, though this accident did set her firmly into ‘angry muttering mode’. For me, the whole incident is worth it because I got a blog post out of it. And it reminds me of one thing…
I do not miss working in insurance.