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Deductibles explained

Insurance is a contract between you and the insurance company. Like all contracts, it's give and take. That's what makes a good bargain. In this case, we're talking about an auto insurance policy. So, in return for the premium, you're asking the insurer to pay whatever costs arise from the traffic accidents you get into. It's like a bet. The insurer works out what the odds are given the car you drive and your track record - it's called risk assessment - and sets the premium accordingly.

 
   

But you can also gamble. Suppose you think that, as a good driver, you're never going to get in an accident or, if you do, it's never going to be more than a fender bender with nominal damage on both sides. In a perfect world of free choice, you could decide not to carry insurance at all. You'll always have enough cash in hand to pay out for the minor dinks and dents you cause. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. All but three states in the union require you to carry auto insurance. If you drive any vehicle on the road without a valid policy in place, you commit a crime. Why is that? Well, it usually takes two to have a traffic accident. You may be the most careful driver in the world, but the idiot who rear-ends you while you're parked may lack the same skills. It's also possible that you may overestimate your skills and underestimate the amount of money you may have to pay if there is an accident. Suppose, for example, you hit an imported luxury car and injure the rich lawyer driving, the costs of repairing the car and compensating the lawyer for pain and suffering may be just short of astronomical.

So deductibles are a happy compromise. Most insurance companies allow you to pay the first part of any claim you make. The amounts are usually stepped as $100, $250, $500 or $1,000. So if you cause damage valued at $3,400, the insurance company will pay the balance after you have paid your contribution. Yes, payment of the deductible is a precondition of the insurer paying out. So, when you're getting your online quotes, always remember to opt for the amount of deductible you can afford. That way, your car insurance policy will come with a discount. The higher the deductible, the bigger the discount!

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