Always Expect The Unexpected

by Sean Bryant on March 7, 2013

AmbulanceWhen I was 26 years old I thought I was untouchable and that bad things couldn’t happen to me. In fact, that’s the mentality of most in that age group. Having just returned from my honeymoon, I never thought that I would be facing tragedy in my life. Unfortunately, that was far from the truth. That mentality could have had serious effects on my family, not only emotionally, but also financially.

As I look back on that fateful day, it started out amazing. I was a newlywed and had just returned from a weeklong relaxing vacation in Mexico. I was on the verge of leaving the small investment research company I had been working for to accept a new job at a major bank. This was a step that would really help boost my career and everything seemed to be falling into place. I was untouchable, or so I thought.

I hopped off the bus in the Chicago loop, grabbed a coffee and started the five-block walk to my office. As I came up to a red light, I waited at the corner. As soon as I saw the walk sign I started making my way across and that is when I heard it. First, there was a squeal of tires, and then a loud crash. I looked over to my left and all I could see was a mini van barreling right at me. I am a pretty athletic person, so my first instinct was to jump. As I did that, my body made contact with the windshield and I was out.

After I woke up on the sidewalk where I had been thrown, I began walking, dazed and confused, through the smashed storefront window of a Corner Bakery. Later, I had found out that the van had hit a trashcan right after me and sent it into the restaurant. I was covered in blood and all I could think about was that I was scared to die. Not just because I was so young and had so much more to offer, but because I had a wife who counted on me just like I counted on her.

Fast-forward a few months, quite a few doctors’ appointments later and a lot of time spent with a physical therapist and I managed to make a full recovery.

The Importance of Insurance for Medical Bills

This was certainly an abnormal scenario, because not everyone is going to wake up, go to work and get hit by a car. However, it does show the importance of having proper insurance. The company I worked for was small, so the health insurance wasn’t exactly the best. I did have a short-term disability insurance policy, which helped cover the loss in wages after my vacation and sick days had been used.

We found out a few days after the accident that the man who had hit me did not have car insurance. This is where it became important that on my car insurance policy I had a uninsured/underinsured rider. This allowed me to receive a lump sum payment that would cover the nearly $30,000 in medical bills. This came as quite a shock to me since I was a pedestrian and not in a car, but I wasn’t going to complain.

Protect Your Family With Life Insurance

How close I came to death is what affected me the most. I had a very minimal life insurance policy through my job that would have paid the bare expenses. It wouldn’t have given my wife any breathing room to allow her to continue living the lifestyle that we were accustomed to living.

Having a decent sized life insurance policy is extremely important no matter how old you are. As you get married and have children, it becomes more and more vital. Dealing with a loss is hard enough. Adding the strain on finances can be more than one person can handle.

Final Thought

None of us wake up in the morning thinking today is the day that something is going to happen to us. We should, however, make sure we have a plan in place. Like my parents always say, “it is better to be safe than sorry.” Had I not had proper insurance, things could have been a lot different for my wife and I financially during the first couple years of our marriage.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

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  • AvgJoeMoney

    Man, not just life insurance, but disability coverage. That’s all I thought of, was “how was his disability coverage” until you wrote about it. Glad you’re alive, dude.

    • It was a rough year. Surprising enough I only missed 2-3 weeks of work. The worst part was needing to see just about every doctor there is.

  • Wow that is scary! I’m glad you’re ok! It angers me SO much to hear about drivers without insurance. It seems the ones who always get in accidents are the ones who never have it. Why do they have their licensee to drive?!?! grrrr. You’re right in that you never know when those emergencies can happen, which is why I hate to hear anyone without health insurance. They think “I’m young so I won’t get sick,” but weird things can happen at any time! And I need to look into short term disability insurance. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Thanks. 🙂

      When I look back on it now almost 6 years later it might have been hard, but it has shaped who I am today.

  • Happy to hear you are fine!

    this is something I really need to work on, so far I think I am young, healthy and invincible. Thanks for the reminder.

  • I’m glad you’re okay and sorry that you had to experience such a dramatic wake-up call to your own mortality. I am a huge proponent of insurance – and not just because I’m a financial advisor and drank the kool-aid! I have seen too many lives ruined because they refused to be prepared for the unexpected and considered insurance a waste of money. The only thing we know will happen – is the unexpected.

  • What a wake up call. Scary indeed. Glad to hear that you were OK. This will put some things in perspective for sure.

  • Brian @ Luke1428

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story. It’s a great reminder that we don’t know what the future holds and, in many respects, it’s not even under our control.

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  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    Powerful post, Sean!!! Thanks for sharing. I’ve had a similar experience and boy, it gives you a wake up call about what’s important in life, doesn’t it. SO glad it turned out ok in the end.

  • Brick By Brick Investing

    I’m glad you were able to recover 100%. Life insurance is one of those conversations that you hate having with your family but is absolutely necessary. My wife and I review our life insurance policies once a year to make sure that the coverage we have is necessary.

  • Nick @

    Wow that is a crazy story! Like the other comments, I am glad you made a full recovery. Being in a similar place in my life as you were back then, I am pretty much the opposite of you. I am overly worried about things happening to me or to my family. I have a crazy amount of life insurance and I probably don’t take enough risks!

  • Oh my goodness! That is nuts… Glad you came out of it OK. You are one of the only personal pedestrian accident stories I’ve heard. Had a friend get hit on a motorcycle — really got hurt. It’s interesting that you blacked out immediately on impact. The van must have hit you really hard. Did anyone come to your rescue while you were on the ground?

    • While I was on the ground I don’t really remember, my first memories after the accident were walking through the window of the restaurant and the employees having me lay down in one of the booths.

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