Getting into a car accident is extremely stressful no matter where it happens. But when it happens in a foreign country where your language skills are less than a 3-year-olds’ comprehension, it adds a whole new level of worry, anxiety and stress. Are the procedures the same as in the United States? Will we be taken advantage of by the instigator and the insurance company? We were in a very location with limited language skills and situational knowledge.
Just a day of errands, right?
The day started out easy enough. We went to the store to get refills on our water jugs, then headed to Santa Rosa to make copies of some of our neighborhood keys. Tom waited in the car until he was driven off by the police on an ATV while I had the keys made. The key guy quoted one price, and it ended up being much more. I was taken again. Just another example of needing to know my Spanish better.
We turned left off the one-way main street of Independencia onto M. Hidalgo the parallel one-way street going in the other direction back home. The MegaCable store is located on this street, and a huge line weaved its way outside the door. Some bills can’t be paid online, and you have to pay at the store directly or through an ATM.
Tom slowed to a stop to let an old lady cross the street, and just as we were pressing on the gas to go, WHAM! We were hit from behind forcefully. Our brand-new car that we owned for less than a month was damaged. Tom pulled over as did the guy who hit us, and we surveyed the damage. His license plate was bend on his VW. Our Honda City was severely dented, scratched, the trunk bent and the bumper not flush with the rest of the car. We knew the guy had not seen us stop with how hard he hit us. More than likely, he was texting while driving.
We had insurance, but the other driver did not. Tom asked to exchange info, and the driver gave us what looked like a voter’s registration card. We took a picture of his license plate. I didn’t know what we should do, so I called our car salesman and explained the situation. He asked if we were alright, then told us to call the number on our insurance booklet.
Useful advice: the zero (0) in front of the 1-800 number IS necessary.
Spanish escaped me
I called the insurance company and asked for someone who could speak English. Spanish was not coming to me at this moment. Even though I tried to remain calm, I knew I was in a high stress state of mind. Our insurance company found Raul who could speak and understand English. He explained that the adjuster would come in 30-45 minutes and we all had to wait until he arrived. Tom bought all 3 of us water and taquitas. The other driver was very nice and patient. He tried to speak Spanish to me in slow and small words.
45 minutes later the adjuster arrived. He spoke rapid Spanish. He needed me to fill out some paperwork about what happened in Spanish. Thank goodness for Google Translate!
Our circle of friends was very small at this point, and the only people we knew that spoke both English and Spanish were our car salesman, banker and realtor. I tried to call our banker. He didn’t answer. I called our realtor. I explained what happened and asked him if he had a few minutes to talk to the adjuster and translate for us. As usual, the adjuster spoke for like 10-15 minutes, and our realtor explained everything in one.
After a time, the adjuster told the other driver that the damage to our car would cost 20,000 pesos. The other driver told me that was a lot of money and that he did not have that much money available. Could I help him out with the cost? I asked the adjuster about this. He told the guy not to talk to us because things could get lost in translation. If the adjuster needed to explain anything to us, he would call our realtor to explain.
Well, we didn’t expect this…or this
The other driver got in his car and was using his phone. After about 10 minutes he and the adjuster went over to the adjuster’s car. They had to move the car away from the Promo Pizza entrance and parked further down the street. When we looked again, the car was gone. Did they need to circle the block?
They had been gone a while, and by that time our banker had texted me back. I asked if that was normal for the guy and adjuster to leave. He was as surprised as I was!
Then the police showed up. We were parked in a no parking area in front of an appliance repair store driveway, and the other driver was parked in a handicap parking space. The appliance repair guy had sent his wife home to get chairs for us, so we didn’t have to stand out in the sun.
We explained the accident on Google translate for the police, and even typed “we don’t know what to do now”. He was pleasant, and Tom gave him his DL and visa. It seemed like the policeman was going to wait with us, and then he walked away! I don’t know if he said “wait”, “let’s wait”, “wait here” or what.
So now things were really confusing. Tom’s official documents were gone, the driver and adjuster were gone, and we were left clueless on the side of the street. So I called Raul again and told him the adjuster left with the other driver and the policeman walked away with Tom’s IDs and we really didn’t know what was going on. He asked me to hold while he talked to the adjuster. When he came back on the line, he explained that the adjuster and driver went to get the money and that they would be back in 10 minutes, “more or less.” The policeman came over with his buddy and I asked Raul to explain the situation to them. The policeman was very nice, even laughing at the recount of event, but still did not give back Tom’s IDs.
The adjuster returned with the guy (who wasn’t happy), filled out his paperwork, filled out the police paperwork and talked some more on the phone. He finally got Tom’s IDs back from the police and gave us the paperwork and name of the body shop to get the car repaired.
Should you get insurance in Mexico?
Just a note, it’s worth getting car insurance in Mexico. We pay around 11,000 pesos a year for insurance including a supplement where we have a $0 deductible. This is considerably less than the $20,000 pesos the uninsured driver had to pay for the damage to our car. Also, the insurance companies make sure they get the money for damages on the spot.
We went home and literally felt like a truck ran over us. We had no energy. Tom was all achy. And my immune system shut down and I got sick. Just one more lesson in a new country.