So you’re buying a car and need to make a decision about insurance. Presumably you’ll compare price and coverage options, and in doing so you’ll see that price varies based on the deductible you select. What is a deductible, and what factors should you consider in making your decision?
Deductible Defined and Explained: Your deductible is the amount of money you must pay for vehicle repairs before the auto insurance company pays the remaining costs. For example, if your car is damaged and your deductible is $1,000 but the damage to your car is $1,500, you would pay the $1,000 and your insurance provider would cover the remaining $500.
Choosing a Deductible: Making this choice depends on your personal comfort level, the amount of risk you’re willing to take, and is sometimes determined by the entity that finances your car. An insurance broker can help you make a decision based on your personal situation, but here are a few factors to consider when deciding:
- Emergency funds: Do you have a healthy savings account and/or emergency fund? What can you afford to pay out of pocket if something happens? A higher deductible can lower your monthly premiums and save you money each month, but if you cannot afford the deductible itself when repairs are needed, this is likely not a good option.
- Value of your vehicle: More expensive vehicles are typically more expensive to insure. For high-value vehicles, a high deductible might make sense because the savings can be significant. On the other hand, the value of an older vehicle might be similar to the cost of a high deductible. This means that in some instances, replacement of the older vehicle might be more cost effective than repairs, suggesting a low deductible is best.
- Risk: Evaluate your personal likelihood of needing to file a claim. It doesn’t matter if you’re a good driver; everyone has some level of risk. Do you drive frequently, and in high-traffic times or areas? Do you live in a place with a large proportion of high-risk drivers? Do you have a teenager learning to drive? What other personal risk factors should you consider?