Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shit happens, sometimes you hit a parked car.

I hate driving. It is boring. I just don’t understand how people can enjoy the open road. I find my mind drifts and I stop paying attention to my surroundings. Bam! I hit a parked car.

The accident was minor. I backed out of a parking spot at the US Embassy and bumped taillights with the car directly behind me. My light broke, her light broke, her bumper was scratched.

Insurance here is a little different and takes a lot longer than in the US. It took me a couple of days to figure out the process. My insurance is third party insurance, so it covered her damage, but not mine. She had to do all the work. She had to get two quotes and send them to me with a “Letter of Demand”. The letter notes the vital information of the vehicles involved and demands payment. She then is responsible for taking this package to my insurance company along with copies of her license, etc.

I only had to fill out a form stating that an accident occurred and submit a copy of my driver’s license. For good measure, I also gave them a copy of my passport. The form had some standard questions, like “Draw the accident”, but other things were very different. The term “endorsements” which usually refers to “glasses or contacts”, in Lesotho means “previous accidents”. I was very lucky to have help from an Ntate from the Embassy who walked me through the paperwork and even drove me to the insurance company to drop off my part of the package.

After the packages were submitted the process was fairly normal. The insurance company sent out an appraiser and the work was approved. The repairs can be made at one of the places that performed a quote. This should be quick for a taillight and other minor damage.

The insurance broker told me that it would be 3 days. This woman has waited more than 3 weeks. Her quote was for about 4000Rand ($600). My new taillight, $26.99 on, came before her car was repaired.

The worst part of this, is that the woman’s husband lives in South Africa. The border is 5 minutes from here. She is not able to cross the border and go home until her car is repaired. South Africa will fine anyone who tries to cross the border with a damaged vehicle. I asked someone associated with the local police force if she could get through without a fine if she showed an insurance letter stating that the repair process was ongoing. This person asked around and said that there was no way of getting around the fines.

Guilt is really my only cost in bumping this other car. The other person, not even in her car at the time, was responsible for most of the legwork acquiring quotes and writing the letter. She is also the one to suffer, by not being allowed to cross the border to get home. All this hassle over two broken taillights and a scratched bumper.

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