Updated December 4, 2019 . AmFam Team
If you’ve got auto insurance — or are shopping around for some — you may have heard the term “deductible.” When you build a car insurance policy, you’ll have to decide how much of a deductible you want, most often either $500 or $1,000. So what exactly is a car insurance deductible? And how much should yours be? We’ll help you understand your deductible and what’s best for your auto insurance to help protect what matters most.
So what’s the difference between your insurance premium and your deductible? The premium is what you pay per month, every six months or annually — depending on your policy’s payment plan — to maintain your insurance policy. Your insurance deductible is the amount of money you’ll have to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in and pays for your claim.
When it comes to the relationship between your deductible and your premium, generally the lower your deductible is, the higher your premium will be. This is because you’re essentially paying to have fewer out-of-pocket expenses should you file a claim, so your future claims payouts may cost the insurance company more than someone with a higher deductible. On the other hand, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be.
The average car insurance deductible is $500, which, if a claim is filed, will generally be less than whatever the cost of repairs are for a serious accident. If the cost of repairs is less than your deductible, you should not file a claim. Your insurance company won’t pay for any repairs below the deductible, and filing a claim can cause your insurance premium to rise.
For example, if you get into an accident that damages only your windshield, it may cost around $400 to fully replace it. With a $500 deductible, you’d pay the entire cost yourself, rather than your insurance paying for it, and you wouldn’t file a claim. But if you get into a covered accident that damages the structure of your car, causing it to need extensive repairs, this could cost upwards of $3500 to fix. With a $500 deductible, you would only pay $500 towards the repairs, while your insurance company would pay the rest.
So, is it better to have a $500 deductible or a $1,000 deductible? That depends on your individual financial needs. Depending on the potential cost of repairs for damages to your vehicle and your budget, the size of your deductible could be larger or smaller.
Generally, the lower your deductible, the more you pay in premiums. But, because the deductible is lower, you’ll pay less out of pocket for expenses related to car repairs after an accident.
With a higher deductible, your premium rate is generally lower, which means your insurance costs you less than someone with a low deductible. But that also means you pay more out of pocket for car repair costs before your insurance kicks in.
Have more questions about your auto insurance deductible? Connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) — they can help you further understand your auto insurance policy and adjust your deductible if you need a change.