That cringe-worthy "crunch" when you back up into another car in a crowded parking lot. That jolting jerk when you're hit from behind at a stop light. That scary feeling of time standing still when you skid into a snowbank. These are the moments you realize your day just got a whole lot worse.
Car accidents are on the rise. And if you've ever been in one, you know that it's not only frightening, but also downright disruptive to your life. From dealing with the auto repair shop and rental car agency, to spending time on the phone with your insurance company (yes, we get it), the hassle and expense of an accident's aftermath can add insult to possible injury. A new survey by Esurance reveals that it's common for drivers to spend more than $1,000 out-of-pocket and 20-plus hours handling post-accident issues. That's a lot of money and time, considering 77 percent of drivers have been in at least one accident. And the average driver will be in 3 or 4 in a lifetime.
What's more, we're making it harder on ourselves than it needs to be and missing vital steps that could make the whole process a lot less painful. Here's what our survey uncovered, plus a few tips for drivers on how to get back on the road quicker after a collision — and save a few bucks in the process.
Accidents take a big toll on drivers' time and finances
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the economic impact of car crashes to be a staggering $871 billion annually. Even for those drivers with insurance, dealing with an accident can be unexpectedly costly and time-consuming, regardless of the cause or circumstance. In fact, two-thirds of drivers who've experienced an accident were not even personally at fault, but still spent valuable time and money post-accident.
So where does that time typically go? For starters:
- 85 percent of people who've experienced any type of accident have had to repair or replace their vehicle. That means waiting for a mechanic and possibly dealing with a car rental or finding alternative transportation.
- Even minor fender benders (38 percent of our respondents experienced only minor damage) typically require repairs. And the nationwide average for repair time is more than 10 days, according to Mitchell, a collision data company.
- On the other hand, some repairs can be much more extensive, or even impossible. 35 percent have had their cars deemed "totaled," due to irreparable damage or repair costs that exceed the value of the car. And we all know how time-consuming car-shopping can be.