Most auto accidents result in minor injuries, but they all, by definition result in at least some property damage. Many people contact me about their accident and ask, “Do I have to pay the deductible if it’s not my fault?”
Most people don’t pay much attention when they’re buying automobile insurance online or from an insurance broker. The majority of drivers are looking for the cheapest insurance possible to meet the mandatory minimum requirements set forth by the State of Illinois. As such, they accept high deductibles and purchase inadequate amounts of uninsured and underinsured coverage. Unfortunately, if you commoditize the insurance, you may get left paying a high deductible if you are involved in an accident.
What is a deductible?
In short, a deductible is a specific amount of money an insured has to pay before the insurance company pitches in to pay for the damage to a damaged vehicle.
For example, if you contracted with Allstate Insurance for a $500.00 deductible and your car has $750.00 in damage to it, you will have to pay the first $500.00 before the insurance company pitches in the extra $250.00.
Do I have to pay the deductible if it’s not my fault?
If the accident is not your fault AND you want to use your own insurance to pay for the repairs, you will have to pay the deductible before your insurance company pitches in to get your car fixed. Your insurance company will then file a claim against the defendant’s auto insurance policy for reimbursement. When your insurance company gets reimbursed for the money they put out on your behalf, you should be reimbursed your deductible.
Unfortunately, this can take some time and the defendant’s insurance company may dispute who is at fault for the accident. This could result in a significant delay in getting reimbursed.
Why would I use my insurance then?
It is often quicker to use your own insurance to get your car repaired. It often takes time for the third party (the defendant’s insurance) insurance to “accept liability” or responsibility for the accident. If you have collision coverage, your insurance will often step in to get your car repaired immediately.
Some defendants always take longer to investigate the facts of an accident. For example, we’ve worked on several cases where the defendant is a governmental entity/employee. The government is always slow in offering compensation for damaged property. In these cases, it’s almost always better to go through your own insurance.
You may be involved in a case where the facts of the accident are in question or even in dispute. If that’s the case, the defendant’s insurance company is not going to pay for your property damage until liability is allocated and agreed upon. In this case, it’s also best to use your own insurance company to pay for the property damage.
Do I have to pay the deductible if it’s not my fault and we both have the same insurance company?
There are situations that we have been involved in where a client did not have to pay their deductible even though they used their own insurance. For example, if both parties to the accident have the same insurance company, I’ve had cases where the deductible issue was handled “in-house” and my client did not have to put out the money to pay the deductible.
I’ve also had situations where liability for the accident was so obvious that the defendant’s insurance company accepted liability immediately. In that case, my client’s insurance knew they were going to get reimbursed for the deductible and as such, waived the deductible.
These cases are the exception more than the rule however. And consequently, when I’m asked the question: “Do I have to pay the deductible if it’s not my fault?” The answer is usually “yes.”
If you are faced with this situation, we are more than happy to provide you a free consultation to discuss your options. Call us at 312-848-9783 now.