Making a car insurance claim can be a stressful experience but knowing how to claim back your excess can make things a little easier. If you have been involved in an accident and need to make a car insurance claim, here are the steps you need to take to get your excess refunded.
What is car insurance excess?
Car insurance excess is the pre-agreed amount a policyholder will need to make to their insurance provider when they make a claim. Often, insurance providers ask for excess payments upfront before the claim process can begin.
Example: Bill’s car insurance policy sets his insurance excess at £400. If Bill’s car sustains £2,000 worth of damage, he’ll need to pay the insurance company £400 before he can claim the £1,600 owed to him for repairs.
How can you claim your car insurance excess back?
While most insurers require excess payments upfront before the claims process begins, that money isn’t necessarily gone for good. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the claim, it may be possible to claim back a car insurance excess.
Let’s look at the four possible ways you can claim on your car insurance excess:
1. If an identifiable third party is at fault
If a third party is clearly responsible for the damage that led to the claim, the claiming back process is easy. Most insurers will automatically request that the third party’s insurer cover their client’s excess as part of the claim.
Example: Bill’s car is rear-ended while he’s sitting at a red light by a third party who admits liability. The insurance company covering the third party covers the damage to Bill’s car along with the £400 excess payment.
2. If an unidentifiable third party is at fault
In some cases, it may not be possible to identify the party responsible for the damage. In these situations, your insurer will usually require you to cover the excess payment in full. However, if a third party is identified at a later date, you’ll likely have grounds to appeal.
Example: Bill’s car is vandalized while parked on the street. There are no witnesses and no security footage of the incident. Even though Bill is not at fault, he is required to pay the £400 excess payment in full to initiate the claims process.
3. If you’re at fault
If you are the one responsible for the damages that led to the car insurance claim, you will likely need to pay your excess payment yourself. In these scenarios, there isn’t a reliable way to claim back your insurance excess.
Example: Bill grazes a parked car as he’s leaving for work. The car is parked legally, and Bill admits liability. Bill is required to pay the £400 excess payment before his insurer covers the damage to the other car.
4. If it isn’t clear who is at fault
If the circumstances around the accident are more ambiguous, and it’s not clear who is at fault, things can get a little more complicated. In this case, your insurance company may still process the claim, but will likely request that you pay the excess upfront. If the insurer feels that they are able to recover the excess payment from the other party’s insurer, they may reimburse you at a later date.
It’s also common for insurers to waive excess payments in ambiguous circumstances. Claimants can argue that their insurer should not hold them liable for the excess payment, but each case is judged on its own merits.
Example: Bill scrapes a car parked illegally on the side of the road as he drives by. There is some damage to the car, but it’s unclear who is at fault. Bill’s insurance provider decides to waive Bill’s excess payment and reimburse him.
In most cases, car insurance excess payments are non-refundable. In some cases, claiming back an insurance excess is automatic. If a third party is clearly at fault, your insurance provider will automatically reimburse you when they receive payments from the liable party.
However, in ambiguous cases, you might need to make your case with your insurance provider. This is why you should consider the excess when picking a car insurance policy.
Claim unsuccessful? Find out what to do if your insurance claim was denied here.
For more information about car insurance excess, check out the below FAQs.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why is there an excess?
There is an excess to pay on your car insurance because it allows insurers to protect themselves against fraudulent or false claims. If there was no excess, people would continuously be making claims to try their luck.
What’s the difference between compulsory excess and voluntary excess?
Compulsory excess is a fixed cost that cannot be changed whereas voluntary excess is an amount that you can choose to pay on top of the compulsory. The more you choose to pay on your voluntary excess, the cheaper your insurance premiums will be. This is something to keep in mind when renewing your poilcy.
Can I change my voluntary and compulsory excess?
You cannot change your compulsory excess amount, however, you can change your voluntary excess.
When do you pay excess on car insurance?
You pay excess on car insurance when you make a claim on your insurance policy. If you are found not to be at fault, you may then be able to recover the excess you paid.
Does claiming back your insurance excess affect your no claims discount?
Claiming back your insurance excess will not affect your no claims discount if you are not at fault. If, however, you are at fault or the costs cannot be claimed from the other party, you will lose your no claims. You can find out more from the Financial Ombudsman here.
James Banerjee is an Account Director who graduated from the University of Kent in 2014. He works in SEO on clients such as HSBC UK and Nestle and he has a keen interest in personal finances and money-saving advice.