Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • A deductible is the amount you normally need to pay before your car insurance coverage limits take effect
  • There are different factors that may determine if you have to pay a deductible or not, such as which driver is responsible for the accident
  • If you were at-fault for an accident, then your claim may require that you pay a deductible to get your vehicle repaired
  • Also, if your car is damaged in an incident that is not related to a collision, you may still need to pay a deductible
  • If you’re filing a claim through another party’s car insurance, you may not have any deductible amount to pay before getting your car repaired

When it comes to your insurance policy, your deductible is the amount that you agree to pay before your policy limits take effect. This amount is discussed ahead of time with your insurance company, so when it comes time to pay it should be no surprise. Although you may have agreed to this amount before signing up with your provider, it’s important to understand what situations may require you to pay a deductible.

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What is your car insurance deductible?


Your insurance policy is a combination of many different coverage options. Within these options, you have state-required insurance coverage options and then optional coverage options. Some of these optional coverage choices may carry a deductible.

Your insurance provider uses the deductible to help offset some of the high costs associated with auto insurance coverage. By requiring the policyholder to pay a portion of the loss, your provider is not required to cover every little dent and ding; they can save their claim settlements for the times you truly need assistance. There are two main coverages that carry a deductible: collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.

When you are purchasing your new car insurance policy, or renewing your current one, it’s important to review your coverage options and any listed deductibles or conditions. If you have questions, it’s important to speak to your provider before an accident or other incident occurs.

Also, different providers may offer different deductible amounts or coverage limits. You always have the option to shop around for different providers, which can give you a better idea of what options are available to suit your needs.

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Does your insurance policy have the correct coverage options in it?

Collision coverage is the coverage option in your insurance policy that helps provide protection if you are involved in a collision. Many insurance policies have stipulations on what constitutes a collision and what does not. One of these common stipulations is that your collision involves another vehicle or an object, such as a tree or a pothole.

Damages caused to your car that would not be covered under collision coverage may be covered under comprehensive coverage.

If collision coverage protects your car in the event of a collision, then comprehensive coverage could be considered “other than collision” coverage. This policy coverage helps protect your car from unexpected events or damages caused by natural events, like when hail affects your area and dents up your car or a tree branch falls on your parked vehicle.

Just like with collision coverage, comprehensive coverage may have stipulations or exceptions on what counts as a covered loss.

Were you involved in a collision with another vehicle or object?


When your car is involved in a collision with another car or an object, your first instinct may be to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance. If you are determined to be at-fault for the accident, then you may be required to file a claim through your insurance regardless. If you were not at-fault, however, then you may need to consider your options.

If you were not at-fault, however, then you may need to consider your options.

When you file a claim under your policy, any damages to your vehicle will normally fall under the collision coverage portion of your policy. This means that you will be paying a deductible to get your vehicle repaired or replaced. If the damages to your vehicle are less than your deductible, your insurance provider may not be required to pay any settlement to help repair or replace your vehicle.

Was your car damaged by an incident that is not related to a collision?


If your car is damaged by something other than a collision, then your comprehensive coverage will normally take effect. When your car is damaged by hail, fire, rain, or any other event that falls under the “other than collision” umbrella, you’ll probably want to file a claim immediately. However, just like with your collision coverage, comprehensive coverage often carries a deductible.

For example, if a tree branch falls and damages your car, your car insurance would normally provide coverage under the comprehensive coverage option. If you carry a deductible of $1000, but the damage to your car is less than this amount, then your insurance provider is not obligated to provide any additional coverage. If the damage is over $1000, then your provider may provide additional coverage above that limit.

If you carry a deductible of $1000, but the damage to your car is less than this amount, then your insurance provider is not obligated to provide any additional coverage. If the damage is over $1000, then your provider may provide additional coverage above that limit.

While this coverage option is important to have, it’s vital that you consider the total damage to your vehicle and your deductible amount before you file a claim. There are times where it may be more advantageous to cover the damage to your vehicle yourself; saving your insurance coverage for when you truly need it.

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Are there situations where your deductible may not apply?

There may be certain situations where your deductible may not apply to a claim you are filing.

In some instances, your insurance provider may be willing to provide a settlement to your claim if you cannot pay your deductible up front. However, they will often reduce your settlement amount by the deductible you were obligated to pay. This saves you from having to pay your deductible in the traditional sense, but it also allows your provider to reduce still the amount they are paying out for a claim.

Additionally, if you are involved in an accident where you are not at-fault, you may not be required to pay a deductible.

If you are filing the claim for damages under the at-fault party’s insurance, then getting your vehicle repaired or replaced will normally fall under a different coverage option on their policy

This means that you will not be responsible for covering a portion of the loss since you were not responsible for the property damages.

If the other party’s insurance policy does not have adequate policy limits or the driver does not have insurance, you may be protected under underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

If you carry this coverage option on your policy, you provider may not require a deductible before providing coverage, since you are providing yourself with coverage that another driver was financially responsible for.

The Purpose of Your Deductible


Your insurance deductible is just one of the ways that insurance providers help to offset some of the costs associated with car insurance claims. By having the policyholder cover a portion of the loss, this allows your provider to focus on providing coverage to larger claims or covered losses.

If you have questions about your coverage or any applicable deductible, speak to your insurance provider before an incident occurs.

Also, make sure to review your policy and your coverage options annually. This allows you the chance to determine if your coverage still fits your insurance needs.

It’s also important to review your deductible and any other coverage conditions on an annual basis, just in case they have changed or been otherwise altered. If your policy coverage changes at renewal time, it may be time to shop around for coverage quotes from other providers.

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