Dealing with a motor vehicle accident can be a stressful and overwhelming ordeal. Not only are victims of these crashes often left with threatening injuries, debilitating pain, and extensive property damages, but many of these victims also worry about whether they will have to pay for their expenses out-of-pocket. In fact, one of the most common questions individuals have after a car accident is whether they are on the hook for their insurance claim deductible. That is why in this blog post, our car accident lawyers are here to provide you the information you need to know regarding insurance deductibles. Specifically, we will go over what they are, who has to pay them, and your options to recover this money if you didn’t cause the accident.
What Exactly Is an Insurance Deductible?
A car insurance deductible refers to the amount of money you agree to pay out of pocket when you file an insurance claim. Once you pay this specific amount, your insurance company can then step in to help cover the remaining cost of your damages, but only up to your policy limit. Typically, a deductible is required with collision coverage, which is coverage that would protect you when you don’t cause an accident. You may also have to pay a deductible with comprehensive coverage and, in some cases, with underinsured or uninsured coverage.
The Difference Between Car Insurance Deductibles and Premiums
Deductibles are not the same as premiums. A premium is the amount of money you pay to your insurance company to receive coverage if you file a claim. On the other hand, the deductible is an entirely separate amount from the premium, and even though this amount will still come out of your pocket, you will only have to pay the deductible if you ever file an insurance claim after an accident. Generally, if you have a low deductible, you will have to pay less money out of pocket if you file a claim. However, your car insurance premium will typically be higher. In comparison, if you have high deductible car insurance, you will have to pay more money if you are involved in a crash, but you will have a lower premium.
Do You Have to Pay a Deductible if You Are Not at Fault for a Motor Vehicle Crash?
If you are not at fault for a car crash, you can choose to go after the liable driver’s insurance company and have them pay for your damages. However, this takes some time and is often filled with numerous hurdles since the other insurance company rarely wants to get you the money you need after your accident. In truth, these insurance companies will try to do anything they can to get you less money than you deserve. This situation can become even more complicated in no-fault states since motorists in these locations must go through their own insurance after an accident, regardless of fault. That is why in the interest of time, many individuals decide to file a claim with their own insurance company, pay their deductible if they have one, and have the insurance company pay the remaining costs related to their damages. Yet, this does not mean these individuals will lose out on their deductible. Instead, at this point, their insurance company will attempt to recover the amount of their deductible from the at-fault driver’s insurance company through subrogation.
How Does Deductible Recovery Work?
Typically, with a deductible recovery, the insurance company will work through a process referred to as subrogation. Subrogation is a way to protect yourself and your insurance company from paying for a motor vehicle collision that was not your fault. Basically, with subrogation, an insurance company receives money from the liable driver’s insurance company, so the not-at-fault driver gets their deductible back. Typically, subrogation with motor vehicle insurance works in the following way:
- You pay your deductible, and your insurance company pays for the damages.
- The insurance companies determine who is at fault for the crash: To figure out this liability, insurance companies will often ask for a statement from the involved parties about the crash and collect as much information about the incident as possible. That is why it is important that if you were involved in a motor vehicle collision, you obtain a police report of the crash, pictures and videos of the accident, and any other evidence from the scene that can help show the insurance company who was at fault for the accident.
- Your insurer will recover your deductible: Once it is determined the other motorist was at fault for the crash, your insurance company will work through the subrogation process to recover your deductible. During this step, you may also need to submit proof that you paid your deductible, which can be shown through a credit card statement or a body shop invoice.
How Long Does Subrogation Take?
Since each accident is different, and each claim is unique, there are no strict timelines for getting your deductible back. Often it will depend on the circumstances of the accident. However, on average, for many people, it will take about six months to recover a deductible. In some instances, if both sides can cooperate and provide the information that is necessary for the claim, this process can go much faster, and the deductible can come back in a few weeks. Yet, it is also important to point out that there is no guarantee that your insurance company will recover this money through subrogation. That is why it is often in your best interest to reach out to a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible following your crash. These lawyers can review your accident and consider the legal options you have in the wake of your car collision. Plus, they can also help move this subrogation process along and work as a strong advocate on your behalf, fighting for the financial recovery you need.
How Do You Prove You Were Not at Fault for the Motor Vehicle Accident?
Following a car crash, the insurance companies will want to determine who was liable for the motor vehicle accident to figure out which insurer is responsible for the claim. However, do not leave this investigation up to the insurance companies. There are things you can do and steps you can take to prove to these companies that you were not at fault for the incident. Consider the following:
Reach out to the Authorities Immediately After Your Crash
After a car crash, you should contact the local authorities as soon as possible. Not only is this the fastest way to get your accident on record, but it is also the quickest way to notify emergency medical personnel that you or someone at the scene needs emergency medical help. Once the police arrive at the accident scene, they will perform a preliminary investigation and write down their findings in their police report.
This police report can provide you with valuable evidence, especially when you want to recover your deductible, since it can help show who caused the crash.
Collect Evidence From the Accident Scene
If the scene is safe and you do not require any emergency medical help, you should collect as much evidence from the crash as possible. This should include pictures and videos of the vehicles involved in the accident, their placement on the road, your visible injuries, the weather conditions at the time of the incident, the damage to the cars, skid marks on the street, traffic signals near the area, and any other evidence that can help show what happened and who was at fault for the collision.
Get Information From the Other Drivers Involved in the Accident
You will also want to exchange information with the other drivers involved in the collision, including names, contact details, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers. However, as you talk to these other individuals, you need to make sure you watch what you say. Avoid making any definitive statements about the incident, taking fault for anything that happened, or apologizing for anything that occurred. These types of accounts can come back in the future and hurt your case, affecting your ability to collect your deductible and other compensation from the insurer.
Look for Witnesses
If there were people at the scene who saw what happened, make sure to get their names and phone numbers. These witness statements can often provide you with valuable information regarding the accident, especially when it comes to liability, and also help substantiate your claims. However, if these witnesses are hesitant about providing you their information, do not try to force them. Instead, retain an experienced car accident attorney that can work on obtaining this testimony for you.
Get Checked Over by Your Doctor
Even if you do not require emergency medical treatment, get examined by your doctor as soon as possible following your accident. Not only can serious trauma such as traumatic brain injuries take days to manifest, but the longer you wait to get medical treatment, the more deadly these injuries can become. For these reasons, you should head to your doctor as soon as possible after your motor vehicle crash. In addition, this prompt medical treatment can be valuable to your case. Insurance companies will often look for any reason to deny your claim or provide you less money than you deserve. By not getting immediate medical help, these insurance companies will use this as evidence against you and argue that your damages are not that serious. Thankfully, when you get looked over by your doctor, they can write down information regarding your injuries and how these injuries occurred in your medical report, providing you with evidence of a direct connection between the car accident and the harm you sustained.
Work With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney to Help You Understand Your Insurance Policy
Insurance laws are not always straightforward, making it difficult to understand what you have to pay out-of-pocket for a car accident and what you may qualify to recover. Thankfully, when you work with an experienced car accident attorney who is familiar with these insurance claims, they can help you understand your eligibility for compensation and assist you as you fight for the money you deserve. They do this by:
- Looking into the details of your car accident and the injuries you sustained to figure out what financial recovery options you have.
- Going through your insurance policy and helping you understand how your coverage and deductibles work and how they can impact your recovery.
- Answering all the questions you have regarding the accident, the insurance process, and what you have to do next.
- Representing you in all case-related communications with the other side and the insurance company.
- Working with your insurance company to file a claim.
- Investigating the car crash and securing the evidence needed to prove what happened.
- Identifying all the liable parties and determining if you can claim additional compensation from them.
- Fighting for you in settlement negotiations and ensuring they go after the just amount you deserve.
- Working with your insurance company to get your deductible amount, if you had to pay it following the motor vehicle accident.
- Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover the maximum damages you need.
If you were harmed in a motor vehicle accident because of another person’s wrongful, intentional, or negligent actions, do not wait any longer to seek the legal help you need. Instead, reach out to a personal injury accident lawyer today for a free case evaluation and discover how these attorneys can fight for the financial compensation you deserve.