Whitney Tilson keeping busy post-hedge fund career – below is the latest – is this an affiliate sale for Jeff at Volvo? JK we are happy he is safe and has an important lesson. A seatbelt saved my life when I was younger – its important to drive responsibly and carefully.
We bought a new car yesterday because our old one was totaled in a very frightening accident (see pictures below).
I don’t want to go into the details here for privacy reasons (I am sending this around widely in the hopes that the lessons here might save a life someday), but someone (not me) was driving our car, a 2017 Volvo XC90, alone in rural western Massachusetts in the very early morning hours the day after Thanksgiving, dozed off for a moment (only five minutes from getting back safely), and the car went off the road (right where you see the car with the lights on in pic 1 below; the road curves, as you can see, and the car went straight).
Thankfully there was no ravine, oncoming traffic, etc., so the car went through the tall grass (you can see the beaten down grass track in pic 1), the front left wheel hit a stump and tore off, and the car came to a rest in between two trees (but not hitting them – what a miracle!), as you can see in pic 2.
The car braked itself, the seatbelts tightened, and all of the airbags deployed (pics 3 and 4) and this, combined with the good fortune of the car not hitting anything, resulted in the driver (thankfully!!!) walking away completely unhurt – but obviously completely traumatized.
The moment the car came to a stop, the Volvo On Call system automatically dialed and a very nice person was on the car’s speaker phone, saying: “We just got notification that the airbags deployed in your car. Are you OK? [“Yes”] Do you want me to call 911? [“Yes”] Do you want me to stay on the phone?” What a great system that is!
While the visible damage was only around the wheel that was torn off (you can see it in the far right of pic 2), there was apparently structural damage so GEICO declared the car a total loss and paid off our lease (minus our $1,000 deductible).
GEICO, by the way, has been magnificent from start to finish. Every person was a pleasure to deal with and they covered every expense: towing the car multiple times, a rental car for up to 30 days, etc. And best of all, when I called to transfer the insurance to the new car, there was no penalty whatsoever (I was expecting our $3,400 annual policy to at least double)! We’ve been customers for 17 years and haven’t had any major claims so we were in their Accident Forgiveness Program, which means that as long as we don’t have another claim in the next five years, this accident will not trigger any change whatsoever in our coverage or pricing. Guess who’s going to be a GEICO customer for life?
I want to pass along two major lessons in the hopes that, of the thousands of people who are going to read this (I have big email lists!), it might save someone’s life someday:
1) If you’re driving and feeling tired, DON’T JUST KEEP DRIVING, even if you’re only a few minutes from your destination (which was this case here). Instead, pull over and rest ideally, but if you can’t, turn on loud music, roll down the window, drink something with caffeine or take NoDoz, etc.
2) DON’T SCRIMP ON SAFETY. The next time you buy a car, pay more for a higher-end one, not because it looks hot and goes fast (though who’s complaining about that? ;-), but because cars from the more expensive brands are a) structurally more solid; and b) have the latest, best technology to both avoid/prevent crashes (the tech in the new Volvos is insane!) and to help you survive them (auto-tightening seatbelts, airbags everywhere).
And here’s another idea: If you’re driving a car more than a few years old (and you can afford it of course), buy a new car. That’s in fact one of the main reasons why we traded in our eight-year-old Volvo XC90 15 months ago for the exact same car, just the 2017 model.
I hate to say I predicted this, but I did – the only thing I got wrong is that I wasn’t the driver. I’ll admit that sometimes I get distracted when I’m driving – and I know that there are A TON of other distracted drivers on the road. My worst fear is that I kill someone else when I’m driving because I take my eyes off the road, even if only for an instant, because someone calls or texts me or I’m looking at Google Maps or changing the radio station. So with this in mind, we chose to invest a lot of money for something we really didn’t need – and it paid off BIG TIME a few weeks ago!
I’M BEGGING YOU TO PLEASE LEARN FROM WHAT HAPPENED HERE AND TAKE THESE TWO LESSONS TO HEART!
Turning to a happier topic, we needed a replacement car and would only consider a Volvo after what just happened, so we initially thought we’d just re-buy the same car, which we loved, but then we looked at Volvo’s smaller SUV, the XC60, which just came out with an entirely new model for 2018. It’s nearly identical to its bigger cousin, the XC90 – the same engine, look and feel, technology, etc. – but is a little narrower and quite a bit shorter, so there’s no third row of seats.
But with two of our daughters now away at college (only one left at home!), we’re no longer driving soccer car pools, etc., so 99% of the time, we don’t need the extra seats/space, so we decided to buy the XC60.
Fortunately, the dealer had a loaner car in mint condition, with only 3,000 miles and all of the features we wanted (basically fully loaded), so we saved ~$5,000 vs. buying a brand new one ($55,000 vs. $60,000) and drove the car home from the dealer. Below are pics of it. We’re very excited!
By the way, if you’re looking for a Volvo and live in/around NYC, we’ve had great experiences with Volvo of Manhattan (on 54th and 11th) and I’d particularly recommend our salesperson yesterday, Jeff Garcia (JGarcia@experienceautogroup.com; (646) 802-1948 – use my name, as I told him that many of my friends would soon be buying cars from him ;-). He’s a great guy, took good care of us, and gave us an excellent price – the opposite of the stereotypical car salesman.