Do I Pay Excess for a Non-Fault Claim?


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By Crispin Bateman

on Wednesday 16 January 2019


Broken glass on road after a car accident

What is excess? – Car insurance excess explained

Insurance is a great idea – something goes wrong, someone else pays for it. Of course, you’ve paid for in it advance, kind of like a forced savings fund, but when the amount needed to cover damages is bigger than the amount you’ve paid in, it feels like a win.

The thing is, if you could simply claim for every tiny dent and scratch that happens to your car with absolutely no down side, then you would, right?

And insurance companies don’t want that.

An excess is the level under which your insurance company don’t want to be bothered with paying. If, for example, you have an excess of £200, then any damage done to your car that is under £200 is going to be something you promise to sort out yourself.

Additionally, if there is a major claim on your insurance, then you agree to pay £200 towards it – a repair bill of £1000 is going to be paid with £800 from the insurance company and £200 from you.

The more your excess, the cheaper your insurance, but the worse it is for you if you ever have to make a claim.

What is voluntary excess?

All car insurance policies have an excess that is set by the insurer – there’s nothing you can do about this and hopefully, it’s pretty low. You are also given the option, however, to increase the excess by a voluntary amount.

This voluntary excess is added to the standard excess to form an overall excess amount. A compulsory excess of £100 and a voluntary excess of £200 would mean a total excess level of £300.

How much voluntary excess should I pay?

When setting up your car insurance, it can save you a lot on your premium to set a higher excess, but always be sensible and set what you can actually afford. If you believe you can choose to take on the risk, then place a higher voluntary risk.

If you’d rather pay more on your insurance but have stronger cover in the face of a car accident, then choose a lower voluntary excess level.

What is driver specific excess?

If more than one person drives your car, it is possible to set personal specific excess levels for each driver – these are called driver specific excesses and are useful to keep insurance costs down when adding a younger family member onto an existing insurance policy.

Do I have to pay excess if not at fault?

The at-fault driver is usually the one whose insurance company pays for all costs related to a road traffic accident. If you have an accident that was the fault of a third party, then it is usual that ultimately, you do not have to pay excess.

What can happen, however, is that for expediency or in cases of dispute, your insurance company will pay for the repair of your vehicle and you will have to pay excess. This cost, however, will be returned to you once the total is reclaimed from the at-fault insurer.

Do I pay excess on a write off?

Like any other accident, if you make a claim on your insurance you will have to pay excess, even in the case of a total loss (sometimes called a ‘write off’).

In these cases, the excess amount is deducted from the final amount paid to you from the insurance company.

For example, if your car is worth £8,400 at the time of the total loss, and your excess is £500, your reimbursed total from the insurance company will be £7,900.

Do I pay excess on third-party claims?

If a claim is made against you, your insurance company will have to foot the bill for the damages, and you will have to pay your excess towards that.

Do I only pay excess if I claim?

You will need to pay excess if you claim, or if someone makes a claim against you. However, there are some exceptions where a different excess exists, or no excess is in place – an example of this is windscreen cover which you can claim for but is likely to have a much smaller excess associated with it than your main excess.

Some excess examples

Example 1: Do I pay excess if someone hits me?

Compulsory excess: £200
Voluntary excess: £150

Situation: You are involved in a car accident where someone crosses a red light at a junction and drives into the side of your car. The damage to your car comes to £1800 and there’s the cost of a replacement courtesy car to you which is valued at £40 per day. It takes six days before the repairs are completed and some dispute means the at-fault insurer delays payment and your insurance company covers you in the meantime.

The costs of £1800 + £240 (6 days x £40) are covered by your insurance company and you are asked to contribute £350 as your agreed excess. However, some months later, the full payment is made by the at-fault insurer and you are reimbursed your £350.

Example 2: Minor damage non-fault claim – do I pay excess?

Situation: While reversing into a space, a neighbour clips your wing mirror and destroys it. They admit fault and knock on your door to resolve the issue.

The costs are £200 total. The neighbour asks that they just cover the costs personally to preserve their no-claims discount and writes you a cheque for £200. With no need to involve either insurer, no excesses are relevant, and it is all resolved privately.

Example 3: What happens with total loss for multiple vehicles?

Compulsory excess: £400
Voluntary excess: £300

Situation: You make a mistake while driving and collide with a car in the next lane, destroying both cars and damaging the local area. The costs run into the tens of thousands.

Your car market value was £13,850. After all the costs have been sorted, you receive a cheque for £13,150 from your insurer.

What about Excess Protection Insurance?

In addition to your standard car insurance, it is also possible to get an extra layer of insurance to pay your excess in the event of a crash. Excess protection insurance will cover your excess amount (usually up to £500) in the event of an insurance claim that exceeds the excess, leaving you with nothing to pay in the case of a larger crash. While it doesn’t help you mitigate the costs of minor claims, it does provide you with an extra cushion if something more serious were to occur.

If you would like to know more about excess, or how Non-Fault Claims can help you get a better level of compensation if you have been involved in a road traffic accident then give us a call today.

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