2. Smart Car
3. No. 1 pencils (twelve gross or lifetime supply)
5. Hair insurance
December is a momentous time of year for many reasons, among them the need to renew my car insurance. I switched insurers last year, and saved enough money to see a Broadway show. Because I stuck my head up, all year I got junk mail from insurance companies. Earlier this month, I went online to see if I could get a better deal. I had barely finished filling out the form when my phone rang: it was a guy from Allstate.
It turns out that the secret of saving money on car insurance is to fill in the blanks right. This time, I gave my Rockaway address for the place where the car is “garaged.” I do keep the car out there most of the time now—in fact, it has been exactly one month since I entrusted its safe parking to my neighbors in exchange for letting them drive it. The Allstate agent has his office in nearby Howard Beach, and he recognized my zip code, which turns out to be a little pocket of safety in New York. He said he could insure me for six months for $329.20.
That was almost half the cost of my current insurer, Liberty Mutual, at $1,214 a year.
Of course, I don’t know what he’s going to charge me for the second half of the year, and I am wary by nature: I always try to follow my father’s advice when I’m pricing something, and go to three different places. So I called Geico, which I dumped last year; Geico has been pestering me with junk mail to lure me back. Their price was higher than Liberty Mutual's. An outfit called 21st Century gave me an estimate of $1,861.93 for six months, six times as much as Allstate. What do they take me for?
Meanwhile, the Early Bird of Howard Beach kept calling back, and I asked him why he was so much cheaper. He went over the old premium statement with me, and what kept the other estimates so high, besides the Manhattan zip code, was that I was insured for theft and collision. For a 1990 car, he said, it doesn’t make sense—unless it’s a Mercedes or something. The Éclair is the only car I’ve ever had collision insurance on, because it was in mint condition when I acquired it. By now, it’s a little banged up. There comes a time, the insurance man said, when you have to admit that your car is old. None of the other insurance companies even bothered to ask if I wanted to keep that coverage. So I went with Allstate, though it pains me to let go of my car's youth.
Now, about that hair insurance. Lately I’ve noticed that my hair looks more and more like the hair of the person who cuts it, which would be O.K., except that he is a middle-aged Frenchman. His hair looks fine on him, but he has been creating me more and more in his image. The last French hairdresser I had did that, too, and he had terrible scraggly hair. I think hair salons should offer some kind of insurance: (1) that your hair will not form wings over your ears as soon as you leave the salon; (2) that your hair will grow out gracefully; and (3) that you will not look like a middle-aged Frenchman unless that is what you are. Is that too much to ask?