Everybody knows how important it is to obtain proper insurance for their vehicles. If you don’t know how much coverage to get, you can talk it over with a trusted family member or friend or even with your insurance agent when comparing plans.
But once you get insurance, the next important thing is to remember to pay your bills on time, every time! Even if your insurance company has a little wiggle room in terms of late payments, it’s prudent to pay your bills on a timely basis.
Some people find that it’s a good idea to put reminders about their recurring bills on a calendar above the desk where they do their payments. This was one of the solutions that my good friends decided to use after they went through an amusing sequence of events concerning their auto insurance bill.
My friend Max had recently married his girlfriend of two years, Beverly. The happy couple began the process of combining their bank accounts and setting up insurance for their homes and vehicles.
As a new married couple that had never shared bill paying before with anyone, Max and Beverly played it by ear, as he told me over lunch last week. One month he would h andle the bills, usually doing them while watching one of the late night talk shows, since doing paperwork was such a boring chore for him.
Another month Beverly would pay the bills. I guess I figured that one of them would wind up liking bill paying more than the other, or would prove more responsible and take over the job permanently. After all, that’s how my wife and I settled on h andling this chore. I had been taking a lot of overtime because we were saving up money to convert a guest room into a nursery for the baby we were planning to have.
My wife, Alice, wound up having to do the bills more and more frequently because I was spending so many late nights at the office, and since she was better at math than me and much more responsible, she wound up taking it on permanently, while I was in charge of taking care of all household repairs, putting out the trash and mowing the lawn. I figured Max and Beverly would eventually settle on one person paying the bills in their family soon enough.
Little did they know that the decision would soon be forced upon them quite dramatically!
As Max continued telling me the story over lunch, he has forgotten to pay the quarterly car insurance bill and wound up putting it in the mail about 10 days after it was due. He had a vague idea that there was a grace period, and he was pretty sure that he sent it in with enough buffer time. However, the next day he experienced severe pain in his abdomen, and had to go to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.
He went in on a Wednesday and they performed the operation in the late afternoon. Max came out of anesthesia and was fine a few hours later. Beverly went home to change and grab some clothes and other items for Max. She grabbed the mail and saw a “Past Due” mark on the insurance envelope.
Beverly grabbed her checkbook and wrote a check on the spot for what looked like an extremely overdue car insurance bill, and then stopped at the post office to drop it off on the way back to the hospital.
She didn’t bother telling Max about the bill, as they were focused on finding out when he might be released.
About a week later, Max was feeling up to going through the family finances and discovered that he and Beverly had accidentally double-paid their car insurance bill. “Well,” he said to her, “when you pay the bills next month, you don’t have to worry about sending a check to the insurance company. It’s paid up a month in advance.”
At this point, they decided to let Beverly take over paying the bills, as she is allergic to being late for anything. Max has now healed completely, and he and his wife have yet to make another late payment on any of their bills.