I Made This Mistake When Buying Auto Insurance, and It Almost Cost Me My Job

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  • Years ago, I bought cheap auto insurance for an equally cheap car.
  • By skimping on coverage, I subjected myself to a world of upheaval and aggravation.

It's a blunder you don't want to repeat.

When I moved to the suburbs as a young adult, it was my first real foray into driving. Sure, I had a license I'd obtained in my late teens. But having grown up and lived in a large city until roughly age 25, my driver's license wasn't something I'd actually used.

Meanwhile, my move to the suburbs required me to purchase a car. And my goal was to purchase the cheapest one possible as a starter vehicle of sorts. That was my first mistake.

My second mistake was trying to save money on auto insurance by opting for minimal coverage on my car. And that wound up coming back to bite me.

A blunder not worth repeating

My first car seemed safe enough to drive despite its obvious flaws, like a moon roof that wouldn't quite close so that every time it rained heavily, I had to wear a poncho or risk getting drenched at the wheel. But I soon discovered what poor shape my car was really in when I got into a minor fender-bender that left the other vehicle with not so much as a dent, while my vehicle was in complete disrepair.

Not only did an extremely minor accident trigger both airbags to go off in my car, but it also basically caused my vehicle to implode. One costly tow to an auto shop, and I got the news no new driver wants to hear -- "your car is totaled."

That was frustrating enough in its own right. But what made things worse is that my auto insurance policy did not cover the cost of a rental car.

Meanwhile, I lived in suburbia, where rental cars are not easy to come by. Such was the case when I tried to rent one for a couple of weeks back then. The few places that had cars available on short notice wanted to charge me a fortune, to the point where I would've been spending more to get to my job than what I actually earned.

I got so annoyed at the situation that I nearly considered quitting my job. Instead, my husband came to my rescue by driving me to work every day while we took the time to look for a new car to buy.

It wasn't a great solution, though. My job didn't start until 9:00 a.m. while my husband had to be at work at 8:00 a.m. for meetings. Because our offices were 30 minutes away from one another, he had to drop me off at 7:30 a.m., at which point my building wasn't even open. So I basically had to stand outside, in the cold, for 30 minutes a day, many days in a row, until we managed to find a replacement vehicle and put an end to our carpool arrangement.

Lesson learned

Tempting as it can be to save money on both a used vehicle and auto insurance, ultimately, you get what you pay for. The takeaway? Be careful when buying car insurance, because certain perks, like getting rental car access or reimbursement, could go a long way when you end up in a jam.

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