The police officer took me inside the police station and had me sit on a bench behind the counter.
I was 20 years old, working at an orphanage in Juarez City, Mexico. One of the largest border towns in the world, I was working on the outskirts of the city in the desert at an orphanage for a year before I went to college.
My cell phone barely had a signal that I could use to call my mentor in El Paso.
“Um…Dan…I need help…”
I can’t recall all the details of our conversation, because I was such a nervous wreck.
After having a wreck in Mexico.
I do remember him telling me that calling my mom right away was not a good idea.
He was definitely right about that!
Ok, so just in case you’re not familiar with how traffic accidents work in Mexico…
NOT THE SAME AS IN THE USA…
Mexican car insurance sends out an adjuster in real time to sort things out. They figure out damages and get it all sorted out right there at the scene of the accident.
And that is the important part…
If…you have actual Mexican Insurance.
Not the rider on your USAA car insurance policy that says you are covered up to 25 miles across the border.
You know that feeling when you slam on the brakes of the vehicle and then you realize that you are not going to stop in time to not hit whatever is in front of you?
Good. Because that feeling totally sucks.
And when the car in front of me changed lanes suddenly and revealed a car stopped at the traffic light right in front of me, I slammed on the brakes of the oversized 15 passenger van with old brakes and got to experience that feeling.
And then I got to experience the feeling of crashing into the car in front of me.
Granted, I slowed way down and almost got stopped in time, but hit the car enough that it was jarring.
Mostly for the car I ran into, because I was in a giant van after all…
And now I was in the middle of the scene of a car accident, where the mom driving the car in front of me had her toddler in the front seat and they were all banged up.
Because the seat belt laws in Mexico aren’t enforced…
And they were loaded into an ambulance on back boards.
20 year old me was a mess. My life was flashing before my eyes.
And that’s when I learned how car insurance in Mexico works.
Because I didn’t have it.
Nor did I have the cash right there to pay the person who I hit for the damages to the car, the time they were going to miss from work, and the hospital bill.
I know right? The situation kept getting steadily worse.
After they put the van I was driving in the impound lot, the office drove me to the station.
Where they sat me down on a bench behind the counter.
Alone, 20 years old, bright red hair, pale white skin, sitting in the police station, waiting for whatever was going to happen next.
Side note…they have the eye bolts in police benches in police stations in Mexico. I didn’t know why until they handcuffed a guy to the eyebolt at the other end of the bench from me…
So there’s that. I reckon they didn’t think I was a high enough threat to lock me down.
At that point, I was calculating whether I could leap the counter, race out of the station, and sprint to the closest border crossing like my freedom depended on it.
Right? Because that would have made it so much better.
After several hours, the director of the mission I was working with arrived at the station and got me out of jail.
But it definitely was not a “get out of jail free” situation.
Thankfully, no one was actually hurt. Bumps and bruises for the folks in the car I hit, but basically just a fender bender. At the end of the day, it cost about $900 to pay for the damage to the car, the wages lost, and the hospital bill for the people whose car I had hit.
I know, not a huge amount.
Unless you’re a 20 year old missionary that had to raise the funds with donations to be there in the first place.
There was no item in my missionary budget for a $900 car accident.
And so I had to exercise my fundraising muscle again to raise another $900 for my year of ministry.
The real kicker…
1 year of Mexican car insurance would have cost about $125.
But nobody told me what the risk was for driving in Mexico.
And I paid for it.
Because I had no idea what the risk was that I was taking.
And I didn’t even know the risk was there to avoid.
Didn’t even know what questions I should have asked to discover what the risk was!
Now, 20 years later, I have learned to find the expert RIGHT AWAY when I venture into something new. Something that I haven’t done yet.
Finding the expert is a critical piece of the puzzle.
Today, I’m an expert at getting insurance coverage for when I travel abroad. Because I’ve made the mistakes that cost me a lot.
When it comes to most areas of life, finding someone who has done it already can mean the difference between success and failure.
Whether it’s getting insurance coverage for travel. Or buying your first home. Or buying an investment property. Or raising money from private investors for a really big investment property.
Having someone on your side who can tell you what the risks are that you don’t even know exist will mean the difference between making it through, or crashing (literally in my case) and giving up.
This is exactly why we built out the Deal Room. So that there are experts available to help navigate the perils of buying multifamily properties.
This year could be the year that changes your life.
Get in the same room as those who have done what you want to do.
Change your future for generations.