When you’re talking to your agent about car insurance, they may mention a little thing called a “deductible.” You may be a little confused about this amount you may have to pay in addition to your monthly premium, but it’s vital to the way that insurance works and what can make your policy and your rates work for you. Here’s how.
What is a deductible?
If something happens to your car, your auto insurance deductible is the amount you’ve agreed to pay – your insurance has its part, you have your part. For example, let’s say you have a $500 deductible. You’re in an accident where the damages total $2,000. You would have to pay the $500 deductible, and your car insurance would pay the rest of the money to fix your car ($1,500) so long as it’s a covered claim.
We say your car because a car insurance deductible typically applies to collision and comprehensive coverage. If you only have bodily injury and property liability coverage, your insurance company will probably just pay the other driver’s fees. However, the claim could make your rates go up for next year.
Why do I need collision/comprehensive insurance?
While Georgia requires bodily injury and property damage liability, these coverages are only to cover your responsibility to the other driver in an accident. Collision and comprehensive coverage are the types of coverage that can help you repair damage to your car. Without those, you’ll have to pay the entire amount of your car repairs out-of-pocket. So, a deductible, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that bad.
Is it worth going through my car insurance for a repair?
Additionally, some things aren’t really worth going through your car insurance because of your deductible. For example, let’s say you have a $250 repair bill for your car. If you have a $500 deductible, you would have to pay out-of-pocket for the total amount of the repair anyway. Because the repair isn’t more than the deductible, it might not be worth it to file a claim for something you’d pay for out-of-pocket anyway.
Similarly, if you had a $600 repair and a $500 deductible, you may just want to take care of the repair yourself instead of making your insurance pay the extra $100, potentially raising your rates next policy term. However, if you have a much higher repair bill than your deductible, by all means, let your insurance help you out!
How does my deductible affect my car insurance?
The thing about deductibles is that they can affect your premium. So, if you’re already paying more for your monthly premium, you can have a lower deductible because you’ve, in a sense, already “paid (part of) your dues” on a monthly basis.
On the other hand, if you choose a higher deductible, your insurance company can see it as you taking more financial responsibility if you have to repair your car. So, they can lower your monthly premium/payment into the risk pool. It’s all a balancing act.
How do I choose my deductible?
So, what does all this mean for you? Well, it means you can be a little more informed in the deductible you choose. That way, you can customize your auto insurance policy for your needs. A good place to start considering the deductible you want is by asking yourself these questions:
How much would I be able to pay if I filed a claim?
Budget for how much you could reasonably pay if you had to repair your car. What amount could you put into your car without being significantly set back in your finances? Your insurance is there, ultimately, to help you. Don’t let it hurt you.
Am I willing to have a higher monthly payment or higher repair costs later?
If you believe you’re able to pay out more every month for your car insurance, and you don’t think something will happen later, go ahead and choose a lower deductible. Accidents happen, even to safe drivers. Still, if you’re not in a high-risk situation that could affect your auto insurance rates, you may be comfortable taking the chance that you won’t have to pay a deductible later on.
However, if you think you won’t be able to afford higher monthly payments, but you would be able to save up gradually for your deductible, choosing a higher deductible and a lower monthly payment may be for you. Remember, though, that your car insurance deductible doesn’t build on itself like health insurance. Each claim that you file means that you have to pay that deductible for that claim. So, if you have a $500 deductible, and 2 claims throughout your policy term, you would have to pay $500 for each of those 2 claims.
Do I still have to pay a deductible if I’m in an accident, but I’m not at fault?
It depends on the direction you want to take. If you want to ensure that your rates won’t go up, you could go directly through the other driver’s insurance policy to have your car repaired. However, going through another carrier may take longer than expected.
If you have collision coverage, you could go through your insurance to have your car repaired more quickly. In this case, you may end up paying your deductible while your insurance takes care of their part of the repairs. Then your insurance would subrogate (ask the other driver’s insurance company for money) and reimburse you for your deductible.
Overall, deductibles and premiums are a fine balancing act between your premiums, your coverage, and your budget. It can be tough to navigate. That’s why our car insurance professionals are here to help you every step of the way. We’ll walk through your risks so that we give you quotes and discounts on auto insurance that fit your needs. To get started, just give us a call, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with an agent today!