How Do I Recover My Deductible From the At-Fault Driver?

So you’ve been in a collision where you weren’t at fault. How do you recover your deductible from the at-fault driver? Can you recover your deductible from the at-fault driver? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about claiming money from the at-fault driver following an accident.

No, You Don’t Have to Pay Your Deductible If You’re Not At-Fault

If you’re not at-fault in an accident, then you should not have to pay your deductible. Typically, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay your deductible.

After the collision, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will estimate the amount of damage to your car. Then, they’ll pay you the required amount of money for repairs, or they’ll pay the amount your car was worth at the time of the accident. When you go through this process, you’re not filing a claim on your own insurance policy – so you don’t need to pay your own deductible.

However, some people recommend going through your own insurance company – even if the other driver was at fault.

Why Should You Go Through Your Own Insurance Company?

Filing a claim on your own insurance policy seems counter-intuitive if the other driver is at fault. However, there are advantages of working through your own insurance driver in an accident

The biggest advantage is time. If you file a claim with your insurance company, you’re going to receive compensation much more quickly than you would than when dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

That’s because you’re not a client of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If you’re not a client, these companies are more likely to drag their feet, delay the process, and prioritize other customers over you.

Fortunately, going through your own insurance company doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pay. Instead, your insurance company might begin the process of “subrogation” to recover any money you – and your insurance company – had to pay.

How Subrogation Works

Subrogation” is an unfamiliar term outside of the insurance industry. Unless you’ve made insurance claims in the past, you may have never heard of the term.

Understanding what subrogation is – and how insurance companies use it to recover costs – is important when you’re trying to recover your deductible from an at-fault driver.

Subrogation is defined as a legal right that allows one party (like your insurance company) to make a payment that is actually owed by another party (like the at-fault driver’s insurance company), then collect the money from the other company after payment has been made.

Typically, car insurance companies use subrogation to recover any money paid after a collision where you were not at fault.

Subrogation comes at the end of the claims process. In many cases, your company will go through the subrogation process without you even knowing about it. It’s a behind the scenes process where money is transferred between insurance companies.

Your Insurance Company is Required to Inform You of the Subrogation Process

By law, your insurance company is required to inform you of the subrogation process. They’re required to do this for two reasons:

  • If your insurance company is trying to recover costs through subrogation, then they’re required to recover your deductible as part of the process, then refund that deductible to you. Your insurance company cannot try to “pocket” your deductible
  • Typically, your insurance policy has a section explaining that you’re required to cooperate with any attempts by the insurer to pursue subrogation. This isn’t usually a concern for drivers. However, one of the most important sections is the part that forbids you from signing waivers or agreements releasing the other driver from responsibility after he or she has already been judged at-fault for the incident. If you do this, then your insurance company may not be able to begin the subrogation process, and they won’t be able to recover their payments.

You Can Still Recover Your Deductible Outside of your Insurance Company

Typically, your insurance company will pursue the subrogation process for you. You don’t need to do anything to recover the deductible – the insurance company will recover their payments and your deductible on your behalf.

If your insurance company doesn’t begin the subrogation process for any reason, then you can still attempt to recover the deductible from the other driver or his insurer. Doing so requires you to contact the other insurance company and explain the situation. Alternatively, you can approach the other driver, then let the other driver deal with his insurance company.

What About If You Were Partially At Fault?

How do you recover your deductible in a situation where you were partially at fault? In this situation, you’ll pay a deductible relative to your involvement in the accident.

If it found that you were 40% at fault for the collision, for example, then you’ll receive a 60% refund of your deductible (assuming your insurance company decides to subrogate your claim).

“Waiver of Subrogation” Might Prevent You From Getting Your Deductible

Make sure you read your insurance policy for any conditions explaining subrogation. Many insurers will insert a section called “waiver of subrogation”, for example.

This clause is designed to protect your insurance company if you waive subrogation after an accident. In this situation, the insurance company may refuse to pay your claim because they will not be able to seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company.


Ultimately, in most cases, the process of recovering your deductible from the at-fault driver has nothing to do with you. If you do file a claim on your insurance policy after an at-fault incident, then your insurance company will most likely begin the subrogation process. Subrogation is when your insurance policy recovers money – including your deductible – from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

In rare situations where your insurance company does not begin the subrogation process, then you may wish to approach the other driver or insurance company to recover your deductible. However, in most situations, this is not necessary.


  Comments: 17

  1. This is more of a question then a comment. What happens if you’re involved in an accident where the other person has the same insurance as you do? You’re not at fault but was still required to pay the deductible because it was a hit and run… does the insurance company still required to reimburse you the deductible paid?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Eileen,
      It seems that you have a couple of questions. For the first question, what happens if the other person has the same insurance as you, the answer is that nothing different happens than it would if they were different companies. The insurance company will still file the claim for both parties and pay out what they need to for the people involved. The second part, related to a deductible, depends on your coverage. Hit and runs typically are covered under Uninsured Motorist Property Damage, which usually has a $0 or a $250 deductible. If you don’t have that coverage, then your Collision deductible would apply.

      • Just have a question…
        If someone added you to their car Insurance, and you had an accident, that wasn’t your fault, and you were sent a Refund Deductible check. Does that check go to the one who added you to their car Insurance?
        Or does it belong to you?
        The one who added me to car Insurance said I have to cash $1000 check, send them $800, and I keep $200.
        Check is in my name.
        Let me know, if you can help me out with this please.

        • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

          Hi Cynthia,
          It seems that it would go towards whoever paid the deductible. I’m not sure what your exact situation is and who’s insurance you are on, but there is no legal right or wrong, it would be between you and the other person. It’s important to note though that you might need your own policy. Again, this depends on whose policy you’re on and what your situation is. Are you family living in the same house? Roommates? If you’re not related and don’t live in the same house, then you should have your own policy and the car should be in your name.
          As far as the money goes, whoever paid the deductible should get the money, but that is a personal matter. If they paid it and are letting you keep $200, then that would be a good deal.

        • If i hit someone’s car and have no collision and fixed my car on my own. 1- should i pay other’s deductible? She call me and requested from me 2- is this increase my insurance premium?

  2. I was broadsided by an uninsured driver who ran a stop sign. My insurance company ruled my insured car as a total loss. I still owe $12,000 to my finance company and with depreciation and all considered my insurance will give me only $8,400. What is my best course of action. Can I sue the uninsured driver for the the unpaid balance on my car, now that it’s useless?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Ron,
      Unfortunately, you probably can’t sue the uninsured driver. You can talk to your insurance company to see if they are going to try to collect that money from the uninsured driver. If they are, then you can’t sue someone twice for the same accident. Also, part of an insurance contract is giving up the right to collect money. This is called subrogation, and it allows insurance companies to pay you and then collect the money from the other party. At this point, there isn’t much you can do. In hindsight and for the future, you probably need to buy GAP insurance, which covers the difference between what you still owe and the ACV amount paid out.

  3. How long is the subrogation process? Is there a deadline for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to refund your deductible? If so, how long?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Terrie,
      The subrogation process can take a short amount of time or a very long time, depending on the complexity of the case and the people involved. On average, it can take a few months to sort everything out on a simple case. Unfortunately, there isn’t a deadline or timeframe for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for your deductible. They tend to do it at their own pace, and for some companies, it’s a slow pace. However, the good thing is that they will pay it eventually because they are required to pay it, so just keep reminding them.

  4. I was hit by a pedicycle and ended up paying deductible. Can I file anything against my insurance for not refunding a collision deductible?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      It’s difficult to fully answer without knowing the details of your claim. If you were hit and it was the other person’s fault, then their insurance should pay for your damages. If you already filed it under your insurance to speed up the process, then it was likely a Collision claim and you had to pay your Collision deductible. There isn’t anything you can do to get that money back, other than collect the other person’s insurance information. Once your company gets the money from their company, they will refund your deductible amount. If you don’t have the other person’s information, then your insurance company has to pay the claim out of your insurance, which has a deductible.

  5. Hello I have a question, after a year from the day I claimed an accident with my insurance, I got an email saying my insurance were unable to pursue subrogation against the other party and they’re closing our file. My question is, who is really at fault? and will my insurance rate go up?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Khanh,
      Did you already receive money from your insurance company? If so, then this doesn’t really matter. Your rates might still go up, but it would simply be because of the accident, not this letter. It’s difficult to say who is at fault because I don’t have the details of the accident, but usually it’s fairly obvious who is at fault for the accident and the insurance company would already know this. Don’t be surprised if there is a rate increase though. Insurance companies usually gradually increase their rates anyway, even more so after a person has an accident.

  6. A traffic light about to turn red then i stop about 2 – 3 sec a truck hit me at the left side of my back,then insurance adjuster telling me that its not a rear ended and his initial decision is 50/50 fault,here in ontario is when someone hit you at the back is definitely the rear driver is at fault right? His reasons is there is a conflict of statement and his telling me that is more damage on the side,i have photos to prove that im in my lane and the truck is end up at the center up to the opposite lane.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Jayson,
      It’s difficult to say, since I’m not familiar with Canadian insurance laws. But generally you are correct, if someone hits you from behind then its almost always their fault, and certainly not 50/50. Depending on how much your damages are, you could either fight this or just accept their decision, it’s up to you. Fighting an insurance company is never fun, but it can be successful, you’ll just have to be persistent. If you have an insurance agent, then they can do most of the fighting for you.

  7. What if you get into an accident and you’re at fault. In addition, you were not insured. So if the other party’s insurance company calls you, are you liable to pay the deductible fees only?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Sonam,
      If you’re at fault and have no insurance, then you’ll be responsible to pay for all of the damages to the other person. Those damages could include physical damage to the car, as well as medical bills to the other person. These costs could be anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to well over $100,000 depending on the severity of the accident. You’ll likely need to set up some type of payment plan on this, which you’ll be paying for quite some time. As soon as you can, it’s imperative to get auto insurance.

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