700 Edge Street
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

Things Your Adjuster Really Should Explain – Deductibles


About once or twice a week, here at Fenders Collision USA, we have a Customer that does not totally grasp the concept of Insurance Deductibles. That’s okay…it can be a bit confusing the first time around.

Whenever one purchases an Insurance Policy of any type, in this case an auto policy, they will be asked to select a deductible. A deductible is an amount, usually $250, $500, or even $1000 or more, that the Individual purchasing the Policy agrees to in advance. This agreed amount will have to be paid by the Individual PRIOR to the Insurance Company contributing any of their funds to a claim.

In other words, if you, as the purchaser of the Insurance Policy, select a deductible amount of $500, then you agree that any damages to your automobile that are $500 and less, you will cover. For example, if your automobile has damages of $1200 AND you are seeking a claim under your own policy, then you will have to pay $500 and your Insurance Company will pay the additional $700…it’s really that simple.

Remember, in the claim process, the deductible is exhausted first and then the Insurance Company contributes.

With that being said, the above only applies to you if you are invoking your own Insurance Policy to repair your vehicle.  Damages that occurred due to no fault of your own, but due to the actions of another Driver, may allow you to claim against their Auto Policy. As a Claimant, you are not obligated to pay any deductible.

We have included answers to some the of the commonly asked questions:

Q – ” When do I need to pay my deductible after an accident and to whom?”

A – Here at Fenders Collision, most of our Customers pay their deductibles once repairs have been completed and they are picking up their vehicles. Since the deductible is part of the repair amount, the deductible is paid directly to the Repair Shop.

Q – ”  Will the Repair Shop cover my deductible?”

A – Margins within automotive collision repairs are very tight. Most reputable Repair Shops will not cover your deductible due to this very fact. However, you may be able to offset your deductible by not replacing a part on the vehicle that only has cosmetic damage. We have done this in the past with Customers after they have signed a simple decline form. Some Insurance Companies do this as a matter of practice by using an “Appearance Allowance”. For example, if the headlight on your damaged vehicle has a minor scuff that you are willing to live with, then they will pay you a portion of the headlight’s cost that you can then use to offset your deductible amount.

Q – ” I damaged someone’s vehicle, but there is no damage to mine. Will I have to pay a deductible in order for them to have their car repaired?”

A – No. The damages to their vehicle will be covered under the Liability Section of your Auto policy. This section covers the damages to other’s property that you have cause. Since you have no damage to your own vehicle and, therefore, will not be seeking repairs, then there will be no need to pay a deductible.


“I’ll Just Pay For Your Damages, Okay?”

The True Costs Of Allowing The Other Party To Pay Out-Of-Pocket!

During my career as a Senior Claims Adjuster for a major Insurance Carrier, I came across countless situations where the person responsible for the damages to someone’s car or truck wanted to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket. During our normal work week here at Fenders Collision USA in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, we will complete a Damage Repair Estimate for at least one potential customer who expresses…”the other guy just wants to pay for the repairs himself”.

“I Have Insurance, But…”

One of the first questions that we ask our potential customers when they come to our 700 Edge Street location is if the collision damages will be covered by an insurance claim. We work with so many Insurance Carriers, such as Allstate, Geico, Mercury, Progressive, State Farm, USAA, Workmens and numerous others that typically the answer is yes. However, when our potential customer informs us that the other party wants to pay, I will usually inquire as to why. The reasons given by the other party are almost always the same:

  • “I don’t want my insurance rates to go up!”
  • “It is such minor damage that it can’t be all that much!”
  • “I have a $1000 deductible and it has got to be less than that!”

…and on and on and on…

Those Unforeseen Cost Of Auto Accident Repairs

However, few seem to grasp the potential for hidden costs and other liability issues that come with damaging another person’s property. Once a person accepts responsibility for the damages, they are in effect accepting responsibility for all costs associated with repairing those damages.

The collision repair process begins with disassembling or “tearing down” the vehicle in the area of impact. It is during this initial stage of disassembling and inspection that addition hidden damages are uncovered. Hidden damages and other unforeseen expenses, such as part’s price increases, shipping, etc., can often add hundreds of dollars to the final invoice. Now if the responsible party has accepted the initial estimate as the actual final repair cost, then difficulties will probably arise when they are approached about these additional unforeseen costs.

Car Rental…Who Pays?

Another major issue that is seldom given much thought is the loss of use of the vehicle while it is being repaired. At a minimum, most collision repairs will take two to three days and often take longer depending on the severity of the damages. The vehicle owner will often require alternative transportation or, at the very least, compensation for loss of that vehicle’s use even if they have a second car or truck to use. Daily car rental fees can range anywhere from $30 – $60 per day not including taxes and add-on fees.

Time and time, I have seen that the person who usually receives the worst end of the deal is not the one responsible for the accident in the first place, but the vehicle owner that is just trying to get there car or truck back to a state of “normal”. This is why I always advise that allowing the responsible party to pay for your collision damages themselves is seldom a good idea.

Auto Accidents On Vacation

That was not in the travel brochure!

So much collision damage…so far from home!

Simon and Sarah Martin have been traveling to the Emerald Coast here in the Florida Panhandle from their home in Ottawa, Canada for nearly four decades. Each year Simon carefully packs their car under Sarah’s guidance and time-tested checklists before heading south for several months in search of a more agreeable climate.

The Martins are soon joined by tens of thousands of other visitors that flood into Navarre, Mary Esther, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Miramar Beach, Sandestin, Santa Rosa Beach, Rosemary Beach and other Florida cities and seaside communities that stretch along highways 98 and 30A. Almost all are looking for the same thing…to escape the realities of harsh northern winters.

After settling in, this pair of Destin Snowbirds set out to explore the community once again and soon find themselves sharing the roadways and parking lots with a multitude of other visitors to the area. With this many drivers unfamiliar with the area it is but a matter of time until some of them meet by accident and not in a good way.

A lesson from our Snowbirds…find an auto body repair shop that you can trust and stick with them!

Alfred Rosenberg, a new member of the Snowbird crowd, will swear to this day that he did not see the left turn signal of the Martin’s 2012 Chrysler 300. Alfred was amazed to find Simon Martin so matter-of-fact about the auto accident.

“This is not our first southern vacation auto accident since coming to the Fort Walton Beach/Destin area forty years ago” Simon calmly stated.

“I’ll call my Insurance Company immediately and see where they want me to take our cars for repairs!” Alfred said excitedly.

“If it is all the same to you, then we’ll just exchange driver’s information as Sarah and I have already found a dependable body shop in Fort Walton Beach. We know that it is our right to have our vehicle repaired where we want and not where the insurance company pushes us to.” Simon said quietly to Alfred.

Finding himself confused, Alfred asked Simon to explain further and this is what he learned standing in that shopping outlet parking lot…

How to find a professional auto body repair shop while far from home

  1. Have your insurance company refer to you someone within their “network of repair shops”. This may or may not be your best option as many insurance companies choose collision and auto body repair shop based on financial concessions given from the shop in exchange for referrals. However, if you choose a “network shop” to repair your crash damages and you have an issue once you return home, then you can often go to another local “network shop” for assistance.