Real life in beautiful and ugly Guadalajara.
categories: culture, rants, raves, society

It’s doubtful that anyone who knows me would be surprised that in my earlier years I was a typical dumbass kid, believing that auto insurance was just some sort of giant rip-off scheme.  I drove a Pontiac Grand Am with about 10 – 12 points on my Kansas driving record, and grudgingly paid around $250 a month to cover myself for a wreck I knew I’d never get into (of course you the reader absolutely know that I eventually did, and you know even more that it happened only after I had lapsed a week or so on my monthly payment, having rendered all my prior monthly payments a complete waste at the moment of impact…).

Now that I’m older I can at least say that I’m not as.. typical, as I used to be. 

But had I not painfully discovered the virtues of auto insurance back in the day, I’d have had them force-fed to me upon arriving in Mexico.   Like one of those Christmas ghosts dragging Señor Scrooge around to look at the future, or.. whenever the hell it was.. being here long enough reveals the unfortunate consequences of relying on no more than 50% of the driving public to have insurance.  That’s my own personal estimate.  I honestly don’t believe I could be too far off the mark.   It’s not particularly shocking, really.  But it is somewhat baffling, when you realize how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to obtain coverage here and actually put it to dependable use. 

What I mean by easy and relatively inexpensive is essentially this:   Having caused an accident and been covered will not make premiums go up the next contract.. or ever.  Nor is any driving record kept by the state, with the exception of unpaid tickets (which they keep track of only to stick you with when you go to pay your yearly vehicle property taxes) - thus no higher coverage costs materialize based on that information.. or lack thereof.   And even then, whenever I’ve had an incident of sorts, or just needed to be towed to a mechanic, they’ve never failed the call (what?.. like I’m going to replace the timing belt all by myself on the side of a busy highway with nothing more than a flat head screwdriver…).

I don’t know about you, but I just think that’s.. magnificent!

So why do so many here go without it?

Conventional wisdom likes to suggest that poorer Mexicans, while perhaps able to obtain a used vehicle, simply don’t possess the means to afford insurance along with it… and since they have it bad enough being poor already, it would be terribly uncompassionate ( political speak for “unpopular”) to force them to pay via the threat of fines or possible jail time.   I guess, according to some, that’s what compassion is all about – earning that endearing “God bless you” (political speak either for “vote” or “I solemnly lay down my machete”)  from the poor and less fortunate by providing them also with some cheap, false sense of blessing.

The reality is that many, too damn many, who possess older vehicles do not consider the cost of insurance to be worth covering the risk of possible damages (it’s worth less than it would cost to repair).. or theft (who would have any interest in stealing this fine specimen of crappola?).  Sounds like some typical dumbass kid I knew back in the day.   Notice here the absence of any consideration of responsibility for the unfortunate ramming of someone else’s vehicle…. just an innocent lapse?  Well.. perhaps you should also take note of all these drivers fleeing the scene, if circumstances permit, when that exact scenario transpires.  But not to worry, my man… we’ve got government healthcare here to cover the costs of the victim’s, not especially clean but cost effective, leg amputation… it’s all good…

Even among those who do acquire auto insurance, it’s surprising to hear just how many say they did so  in case their car gets stolen.  Talk about conscience free theft incentive.. but that’s a rant for another day.

Supposedly it’s the law here to have it.. just like in the U.S. …  but I’ve never once seen it enforced, not once.. and I’ve been pulled over a number of times.   At any rate, if you mash up someone else’s pride and joy and you’re not covered, chances are that the other person will have insurance and you can get them to take the blame so that their insurance pays… not only their damages but yours too.  How’s that for justice? 

Surely I’m just pulling your jittery leg and making all this crap up.. right?  Do people really bend over like that!? 

Look.. if you get hit by someone who lacks insurance, and this dead mass of societal lard, who for whatever reason fails to escape the scene, refuses to accept responsibility – you’ve got two options:  1) accept the responsibility yourself and have your insurance cover the whole mess – if you’ve got full coverage (and don’t fancy any bizarre notion that the anal scab will pay your deductible as a show of gratitude) , or.. 2) have both yours and the twat’s car impounded until the matter is resolved, which could – and most often does - take months.. with no guarantee in such a hopelessly corrupted system of you coming out on top.   Which of those two paths do you suppose is the most commonly chosen?  Which would you choose?

How this twisted reality comes to be in any society is anyone’s guess.  My half-baked educated postulation would come back to this even more than half-baked definition of ‘compassion for the poor’, which is that the better-off, besides bearing their own burdens, should shoulder the brunt of the poor’s irresponsibility and other casual misfortunes…

All it does is inadvertently create and perpetuate a quagmire of belligerent tramplers and hapless trampled. 

I’m blessed, I suppose you could say, with a vehicle tough enough for Guadalajara roads and traffic and has “I’m not afraid to get scratched and scarred up” written all over it.  I’m an aggressive driver yes, but tranquilly so.. and certainly not a cheating “me first” type.  But when people do try to trample their way over others within my proximity and at my expense, my calm turns to blood red adrenalin, no matter if it’s a bus, a tractor trailer, or a Prius.  I’m told “well maybe they’re in a hurry, or worse in an emergency..”  What? and nobody else is!?  “Yeah, but they could be crazy and have like a gun or something..”  And what about me?  Maybe I’m the crazy bastard with the gun!!  I’m well aware of how easy it is to get banged up out on these roads or even worse, killed.  But adrenalin, armed with a vehicle like my own, dictates that I make a few tramplers aware of it also… or at least that someone out there isn’t as willing to get pushed around as everyone else seems to be. 

Now on one hand, I like that things are more lax down here.. and that insurance is easy, inexpensive and dependable.  How could I not?  When I was younger I would have even enjoyed the fact that it’s not enforced in any meaningful way.  A lot of gringos, having been down here for a time, like to comment on how Mexico is actually a freer country than the United States.  In many respects, this one included, it indeed is.  But I can’t count the times that Mexicans who have spent time in the states have commented to me on how much better and safer drivers in the U.S. are.  Hmmm.. not exactly true…

I try to explain that by no means are Americans innately more culturally advanced or sophisticated drivers.. the only difference is a system that more concretely applies consequences.  Now of course, if you’re important enough, you can get out of almost anything.  99% of us are not.   But when paying a ticket results in negative marks on your record, which in turn raises your insurance premium… and not having insurance will also get you into a load of trouble… and NOT paying a ticket results in a warrant for your arrest, and the cops don’t accept bribes beyond the ‘crying female with big knockers’ type, if they even accept that… that devil may care attitude that we’re all prone to adopting on the road tends to be kept on a much tighter leash.

Of course, none of that is going stop a kid with a lot of horsepower from being a typical dumbass.

Listing of Mexican Auto Insurers

          Don’t let this tough guy catch you without insurance!

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