Even when you drive safely and exercise caution while behind the wheel, car accidents are still a common occurrence in Georgia.
Another motorist may have been speeding, carelessly changing lanes, driving while texting, or engaged in other risky conduct.
In the aftermath of the crash, one of the first questions on your mind will be: “Do I pay a deductible if I’m not at fault?”
On one hand, you do carry auto insurance to protect against this exact scenario.
On the other hand, it doesn’t seem fair that you should be paying out money when someone else was responsible for causing the collision.
Ultimately, there are many factors that may affect the issue of paying a car insurance deductible when not at fault.
The answer to the question will depend on your unique circumstances, and a skilled car accident lawyer can provide details that are custom-tailored to your situation. However, you may find some general information useful.
Georgia is an At-Fault State
First, it’s important to note how fault works in auto accidents under state law. In an at-fault state like Georgia, you have two choices:
- You can file a claim under your own policy
- You can seek compensation from the responsible driver’s insurance company
The next step is to determine if #1 is even an option, since you may not carry the necessary coverage. For instance, if you have the basic auto insurance minimums required by Georgia law, you may not choose to pay for comprehensive or collision coverage.
You will only pay a deductible if you opt for #1. There are advantages and disadvantages for doing so, which you should review with an attorney before making a decision.
Pros of Filing a Claim with Your Own Insurer
There are two primary advantages to seeking compensation from your insurance company and paying the applicable deductible.
- You can resolve your claim quickly, since you are the customer and your insurance company is contractually bound by the details of your policy. Plus, the insurer has an interest in providing top-quality service to support its reputation and attract other customers. In some cases, the company will get estimates and pay for repairs. If your vehicle was totaled, your policy will contain provisions about valuation and compensation.
- You may get reimbursement from the responsible driver. Your insurance company won’t just walk away after paying out on your claim and is likely to pursue a subrogation action. Essentially, this is a lawsuit that the insurer files against the other motorist to recoup its costs. The insurer may be able to recover for you the amount of the deductible, though there’s no guarantee.
Cons for Seeking Coverage Under Your Policy
In some situations, you may want to avoid filing a claim with your own insurer and paying the deductible listed in your policy. If you can’t afford this amount, your only option may be to file a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company.
This will definitely take longer, as the other insurer is focused on protecting its own interests and those of its policyholder. You can expect a fight to get the compensation you deserve, which leads to delays.
Plus, even if you can afford the deductible, there are other financial reasons you may not want to file with your insurance company. Depending on the specifics of your policy, your premiums may increase.
The insurer may raise your rates to get some of its money back. Still, other companies promote their business based upon not increasing your premiums in the event of an accident. You’ll have to check the fine print on your policy to determine how your insurance company processes these cases.
Speak to a Georgia Car Accident Attorney About Deductibles
To learn more about your rights, please contact Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. to schedule a free consultation. You can reach us at 706-354-4000 or via our website.