My condo unit was recently flooded by my neighbor’s broken washing machine. My insurer says I have to ante up the $250 deductible. Why? It’s not my fault. The neighbors should pay.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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If you file a claim with your insurance company it should pay you the benefits it promised — damages less the deductible.

The person causing the damage would be liable for the entire damages, but of course if the neighbor or his insurance company is unwilling to pay is unwilling to pay, you’d have to sue to collect. That’s why many people go to their own homeowner’s company and eat the deductible.

Ask the neighbor to pay the deductible. But if he or his company does not, you’d have a bit of a problem. When your insurer pays your claim, it is “subrogated” to your rights to go after the neighbor. If your insurance company bothers to collect from the neighbor or his insurance company, it should pay your deductible back. The kicker is that very often your company does not bother collecting because it can cost more to try than it is likely to collect, especially if the neighbor has no homeowners insurance. In that case you could ask your insurance company for permission for you to sue to recover the deductible and any other damage. The company may let you with an understanding that if you sue you ask for the entire damage and pay them anything over the deductible.

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