Does My Deductible Apply to All Claims, Even If I Am Not at Fault?

Last Updated on January 10, 2020

People often wonder whether they will be forced to pay their auto insurance deductible even if they are not at fault for an accident.  The aftermath of an auto accident will be frustrating and stressful, especially if you are not at fault. The last thing you should have to worry about is having to pay a deductible.  Below, we provide a quick look at whether deductibles are applicable to all claims or only those at which the driver is at fault.

The Deductible When You Are Not at Fault

Does My Deductible Apply to All Claims, Even If I Am Not at Fault?There is no concrete answer as to whether you have to pay the deductible when you are not at fault for an auto accident.  In short, you might have to pay the deductible stemming from an accident that you are not at fault for. You have the option of waiting until the at-fault driver’s auto insurance provider reaches out to you to pay for your damages.  However, this approach will likely take a considerable amount of time.

The other option is filing a claim with the insurance provider, paying the deductible and letting the insurer cover the rest of the cost for damages.  This approach will ensure you get back behind the wheel that much quicker. However, you will be paying for the deductible applicable to an accident you did not cause.  Enter the deductible recovery.

The Deductible Recovery

Deductible recovery triggers a process known as subrogation.  Subrogation is another way of the insurance provider stating they are attempting to get the deductible back in-hand simply because you did not cause the accident.  In other words, subrogation occurs when an insurance provider receives money from another insurance provider so the driver who is not at fault gets his or her deductible returned.

Let’s take a quick look at how the subrogation process unfolds.  The auto insurance provider covers the cost of damages to your vehicle but for the deductible.  Even if the claim is settled and the authorities determine you are not at fault for the crash, you will still receive your deductible back.  The insurance companies of the drivers involved in the accident then determine which party is truly at fault. Though you already know which of the drivers is at fault, it is still necessary for the insurance providers to go through this process.  You will likely be asked to provide a statement about the accident. Therefore, any pictures, video, police report or other supporting materials will prove quite helpful.

The insurance provider proceeds to recover the deductible after it is determined the other driver was responsible for the accident.  It might be necessary to provide proof that you paid your deductible. Such proof can take the form of a credit card statement or an invoice from the body shop.  The deductible recovery/subrogation process time differs based on the accident’s circumstances. As is often said, every claim is highly unique. It will likely take around six months to recover your deductible.  As long as all of the required information is available, the process will go that much quicker and smoother. In fact, it might only take a week or two to get your deductible money returned.

Always Obtain a Police Report

It is imperative you contact the police so an official police report of the accident can be made.  Reach out to the police immediately after your auto accident. The police will do much more than fill out an accident form; they will attempt to determine which driver is at fault.  Though the police report is not the be-all-end-all when it comes to determining fault, simply having a police report on record will help pin the blame on the negligent (careless) driver to bolster your auto accident claim.  So do your best to resist the temptation to exit the accident scene without contacting the police. It is certainly possible the other driver will stretch the truth or outright lie to the insurance provider in an effort to make it appear as though you are at fault for the accident.

When in Doubt, Request for the Deductible to Be Waived

Your auto insurance provider will eventually get its money back by way of the subrogation process detailed above.  Therefore, it is in your interest to ask the insurer to waive the deductible. In other words, the other driver is at fault and has the auto insurance necessary to cover the loss.  However, if the insurer refuses to waive the deductible, it should at least agree to pursue the deductible so it can be paid back to you after the subrogation process plays out.

If necessary, pay the deductible even though you are not at fault for the accident.  There will be less of a hassle to get your vehicle repaired after the accident is reported to your own insurance company and you cover the cost of the deductible.  Though it will certainly sting to pay a $500 deductible or even more, it will likely be the end of your expenses, especially if you were not at fault for the accident.  The insurance provider should not jack up your auto insurance rates as you were not at fault for the accident.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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