If I have a $500 deductible, what do I pay if the damage is less
than that? Will my insurer just pay for the whole
If the cost to repair your vehicle after a
is less than your deductible amount, then there is no reason to
make a claim with your auto insurance company because it will pay
zero -- as in absolutely nothing -- toward your car's repair
Car insurance is for the big things, not the little ones.
Otherwise it would cost even more.
For your physical damage coverages of
you choose a deductible amount at the inception of your policy, you
said yours is $500, and that is the amount you must pay out before
your car insurance benefits will kick in. It is completely
your own responsibility to take care of repair costs that are below
Once repair costs reach your $500 deductible amount, you can
make a claim and your collision or comprehensive coverage
(whichever coverage the damage falls under) would pay for the
repair costs that exceed your deductible amount. That,
however, doesn't mean it's always wise to make a claim just because
your deductible amount had been reached.
Even if the cost of repairs exceeds your deductible amount, you
may still want to pay out-of-pocket for the repairs to keep a claim
off of your claims history. If the repairs come up to, say,
$600 and you can afford to pay out the whole amount, then you
probably should. Auto insurers take into account your claims
history when determining your car insurance premiums.
One minor claim under $1,000 may not raise your rates at this
time, but if in the near future you have additional claims, then
your overall claims activity could cause your rates to rise, or
even cause your insurance company to not renew your policy at the
end of your term.
If you are comfortable with paying for minor damages to your car
and have the money to cover them, then you may also consider
choosing a higher deductible. (See "Will higher deductibles
save you money?")
However, don't ever make your deductible so high that you can't
afford it and can't pay for repairs up to that amount. (See
"What if I can't pay my deductible") And you may not be able raise
your deductible if you have a lienholder that requires you to keep
your deductible at $500 or below.