When an auto accident occurs, you will likely have many questions. A common one is whether you will need to pay your insurance deductible if you were not responsible for causing the collision. This is a common source of confusion for many drivers when filing a claim, even though deductibles are required regardless of fault.
It is essential to know what purpose deductibles serve. Knowing why you must pay them even when not at fault is beneficial. An Oklahoma car accident lawyer can help you through the process so it is not as overwhelming.
The Role Deductibles Play
A deductible is the portion of a claim cost that the policyholder must pay themselves before insurance coverage kicks in to pay the rest. For example, with a $500 deductible, the driver must pay $500 out of pocket. This amount goes towards repairs or replacement before the insurer contributes payment.
For example, if a driver has a $500 deductible and is involved in an accident that costs $1,200 in damage, they would pay the $500 first. The policy would pay the remaining $700. The deductible is owed before any repairs can begin.
Deductibles help incentivize policyholders not to file small claims that would increase administrative costs for insurance providers. Policyholders can usually choose higher or lower deductible amounts. Higher deductibles result in lower monthly premiums.
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Why Your Deductible Still Applies Even When You Are Not at Fault
One of the most frustrating parts of being in an accident that was not your fault is discovering you still have to pay your insurance deductible upfront on repairs. It can be overwhelming with such an unexpected expense. Here is a more in-depth look at why this is the case:
- Your own collision policy covers repairs to your vehicle, no matter which driver was responsible for the accident. Collision claims are considered “first-party” transactions between you and your insurance company.
- The specific amount you chose for your deductible, such as $500 or $1,000, is part of the insurance contract and terms you agreed to. It applies to repair costs for your vehicle after accidents, vandalism, or other covered damage.
- Insurance companies are generally prohibited from waiving or reducing your deductible based solely on accident fault since legal liability is determined afterward during the subrogation process. Fault has no bearing on your upfront responsibility.
- You must first pay out-of-pocket to cover your deductible amount to activate and access your collision coverage benefits. Only then will your insurer contribute payments toward the remaining repair costs.
- Very few scenarios exist where an insurer can waive the deductible due to fault before liability is established. You almost always have to pay first, even when you are not at fault.
It can be daunting to know you are left with costs even if the accident was not your fault. Thankfully, you should be able to recoup the money you spent. With a lawyer, you can submit the necessary paperwork to get reimbursed for what you have spent.
How to Recover Your Paid Deductible from the Liable Party
It is important that you know how to recover your deductible. You can work on these steps with a personal injury lawyer in Oklahoma. You can recover your deductible with the following in mind:
- Through a legal process called subrogation, your own insurance agency stands in your shoes and pursues repayment of your deductible amount from the at-fault driver’s insurance provider after they have accepted liability.
- Fault and liability must be clearly established and documented first.
- Once the other insurer agrees their policyholder was at fault and accepts financial responsibility, your insurer can seek reimbursement for the deductible you paid.
The timeline for resolving subrogation and receiving your repaid deductible depends on several factors. Make sure you have enough evidence to support clear fault. Keep in mind that any back-and-forth negotiations can slow down the process.
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Scenarios When Deductibles May Be Waived in Oklahoma
There are some situations where auto insurance companies in Oklahoma may waive the collision deductible. This can happen after an accident you were not responsible for. Some insurers may waive deductibles for collisions that are clearly beyond the driver’s control and not their fault, such as:
- Swerving to avoid an animal suddenly jumping into the road
- Hail damage resulting from a severe and unexpected storm
- A tree limb falling on the car due to high winds
Every insurance policy is different, so carefully review your specific terms and conditions for details on when deductibles could be waived. For example, if the at-fault driver has insurance through the same company as you, they may waive your deductible to simplify internal claims handling without needing subrogation. There may also be situations like glass repair or accidents on private property where deductibles can be waived.
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When the At-Fault Driver does Not Have Insurance
A frustrating situation is getting in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Not only do you have to pay your deductible and deal with the aftermath. You also may not recover damages if the at-fault party has no insurance or insufficient coverage.
If an uninsured driver crashes into you, your collision deductible most likely cannot be waived, even though the other motorist is liable. Oklahoma insurance regulations generally do not allow waiving deductibles based solely on the other party’s lack of insurance. However, your insurer may reduce or waive your deductible if you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) on your own policy.
This optional extra coverage protects you in accidents caused by drivers with no or insufficient insurance. It does not help pay for the damage. However, it helps with compensation for loss of life and medical costs. A personal injury attorney in Oklahoma can help you through this scenario.
Let Us Help You Get Justice and Recoup Your Fees
Having to pay insurance deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for an accident that was not your fault is unfair and frustrating. An Oklahoma personal injury attorney is vital to have on your side to make sure you are not left to pay for anything. Contact us to schedule your free consultation to get started with the process.
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