When Do You Pay the Deductible for Car Insurance in PA?

Has your car recently been damaged? If so, you may be considering the requirements, options and timing of paying your deductible. When to pay your deductible (and even whether or not to make a claim that will involve a consequent deductible payment) depends on the details of how and by whom your vehicle was damaged. There are times when you may be required to pay your deductible, and situations where you may have the option of not even filing a claim. If you are required to pay the deductible for car insurance, understanding the claims process will help you determine the timing of when you will pay it and where you should send your payment.

Factoring the Cost of Your Deductible Into the Decision to File a Claim

To file or not to file – that is the question. If you caused damage to your own car, you may not be required to file an insurance claim (which will involve payment of a deductible) if there is only physical damage to YOUR vehicle and not the property of others. For example, if you or someone you’ve permitted to drive your car backs into a pole, or sideswipes a guardrail, you have the option to not file a claim if the damage to your car is minor. If there is a small scratch or dent, is it worth paying a an amount of $500 or $1,000 to have your insurance pay a claim? Also, you need to consider the probability of your insurance rate increasing as a result.

Although there is not a definitive way to determine the answer based on a calculated formula, you can generally decide if you should file a claim and pay your deductible based on the estimated cost of the damage your vehicle has sustained. Many insurers will not increase your premium for one minor claim costing less than $1,000. There is no guarantee of this, but this is fairly common practice. In the end, you will need to balance both the total cost of the repair and the cost of future premiums impacted by your claim against your out-of-pocket costs in each scenario.

When Are You Required to Pay Your Deductible?

The Accident Is Your Fault - If you’ve recently been involved in an accident that was your fault, you’ll typically be required to pay your portion of collision coverage (your deductible) to have your car repaired or replaced. Your insurance carrier will cover the cost to repair or replace the damaged property of others without requiring a deductible from you. For example, if you strike another motorist’s vehicle, or hit a structure such as a fence or building, you will be required to pay your deductible to repair your car if the accident is your fault, but there will be no payment required toward the repair of the fence or the other driver’s vehicle.
The Fault Is Undetermined - There are situations when determining fault in an auto accident takes some time. If your car has been damaged in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may need to pay your deductible in order to have your car repaired, then wait until fault is determined indicating the cost of repairs is the responsibility of the other party’s insurance carrier. Generally speaking, your deductible will then be refunded when the claim has been settled. This is a less than ideal situation, but it can happen if the details of the accident need to be sorted out over an extended period of time.
The claim falls under comprehensive coverage - In the event your car is damaged by theft, vandalism, striking wildlife or hail, damages would be covered under comprehensive coverage and you will be required to pay your deductible. For example, comprehensive claims are more frequent in rural parts of Pennsylvania during the months of October and November with accidents involving deer. In these situations, there isn’t another driver, so the cost to repair or replace your vehicle will rest solely on your insurance carrier, meaning those repairs will not take place until your deductible payment has been made.

What Is the Process Following an Accident?

Generally speaking, if the likely cost of repair will be higher than your deductible, you’ll contact your insurance carrier and file a claim after an accident. An insurance adjuster will come out to inspect the damage and write a report. Your car will either be driven or towed (depending on the damage) to a local body shop for repairs. At this point you’ll need to pay your deductible directly to your insurance carrier if you filed a comprehensive claim, or a collision claim for an accident that was your fault. It depends on the insurance carrier and your policy, but typically you will be required to pay your deductible prior to the start of repairs on your vehicle. When the payment has been made, the adjuster handling your claim will instruct the repair shop to begin the repair work on your vehicle.

Final Thoughts on When to Pay Your Deductible

Choosing the right deductible amount to purchase for your auto insurance often comes down to how it affects the total premium you will pay annually or every six months. However, when you file a claim and have to actually pay your chosen deductible, your deductible level choices come into sharper focus. This is a good time to assess and possibly reconsider which amounts are right for you. If you have questions about deductible selections or about when to pay it, reach out to a friendly licensed auto insurance professional at Plymouth Rock Assurance.

Plymouth Rock Assurance® and Plymouth Rock® are brand names and service marks used by separate underwriting, managed insurance, and management companies that offer property and casualty insurance in multiple states. Insurance in Pennsylvania is underwritten by Palisades Insurance Company, Palisades Property and Casualty Insurance Company, High Point Preferred Insurance Company, and Rider Insurance Company. Each company is a separate legal entity that is financially responsible only for its own insurance products. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued by each separate company.

Call 855-993-4470, get your free quote online, or find an agent to learn more about when you pay the deductible for car insurance in PA. Visit our contact us page if you need to call us with additional questions.