Does Car Insurance Cover Scratches and Dents?


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Updated: June 19, 2024

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When it comes to scratches from road debris, animals or even another driver — your car insurance likely has you covered. Comprehensive insurance typically covers damage caused by unexpected events, regardless of the scratch's size. If another driver dinged your car, their liability insurance normally covers the repair costs.

But unless another driver’s insurance covers the scratch, it might not be worth patching up if the repair cost is more than your deductible, and filing a claim could raise your future rates.

Key Takeaways

Your comprehensive insurance usually covers unexpected events like vandalism or falling objects that cause scratches.

If another driver damages your car, their liability insurance is responsible for covering the repair costs.

Minor scratches might not be worth claiming, as the repair cost could be lower than your deductible, and filing a claim might increase your premiums.

What Types of Car Insurance Cover Scratches

Depending on the situation, car insurance typically covers scratches under comprehensive or collision coverage. Here's a quick guide to help you determine which type of coverage applies:

Scenario
Coverage Type
How It Works

Road debris scratches your car while driving

Comprehensive

Road debris damage is considered a noncollision event and is usually covered by comp insurance.

You bump into another car and are at fault

Collision

Collision covers damage to your car in an accident, regardless of fault.

You bump into another car (the other driver is at fault)

Other driver's property damage liability

The other driver's property damage liability will cover the damage to your car. If they're uninsured, your uninsured motorist coverage may kick in.

An animal scratches your car

Comprehensive

Damage from animals is typically covered under comprehensive.

A branch falls on your car

Comprehensive

Comprehensive coverage also includes damage from falling objects, including tree branches.

A full coverage car insurance policy will usually cover rental cars while your car is being repaired from covered damages. For example, if a run-in with a deer leaves your car inoperable, your roadside assistance can tow it to the nearest shop. Your comprehensive insurance will cover the repairs, and your rental reimbursement will pay for a rental car while yours is in the shop.

When Car Insurance Might Not Cover Scratches

While car insurance typically covers a variety of scratches, there are some situations where you might find yourself paying out of pocket. Here are a few reasons why your car insurance may not cover scratches:

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    Normal Wear and Tear

    Minor scratches and dings that occur with regular use of your vehicle aren't typically covered.

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    Lack of Comprehensive Coverage

    If you only have liability coverage, you won't receive compensation for damage caused by vandalism, falling objects, animal scratches or road debris.

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    High Deductibles

    If the cost to repair the scratch is less than your deductible, your insurance won't kick in.

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    Intentional Damage

    Intentionally damaging your own car won't be covered by insurance.

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    Unreported Incidents

    Failing to report the incident promptly to your insurer may result in a denied claim.

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    Excluded Perils

    Review your policy carefully, as some may specifically exclude certain types of scratches or damage.

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    Pre-Existing Damage

    Scratches already on your car before you purchased your policy are not covered.

When to Consider Filing a Claim

Filing a claim for a car scratch is worth it if the repair cost is significantly more than your deductible and your insurance policy covers the type of damage. In these situations, you'll likely want to file a claim:

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    Deep or Extensive Scratches

    If the scratch is deep, long or compromises your car's structure, don't hesitate to file a claim.

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    High Repair Costs

    When the cost to fix the scratch is much more than your deductible, your insurance can help cover the expense.

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    Another Driver's Fault

    If another driver caused the scratch, you can file a claim against their insurance to cover the repairs.

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    Low Deductibles

    If your deductible is relatively low, your out-of-pocket expenses will be minimal if you file a claim.

The sooner you report an incident to your insurer, the smoother the process will likely be. Most insurance companies prefer you report any damage within a few days of it happening so they can gather information and assess the damage while it's fresh. This also helps you avoid any potential claim denials due to late reporting.

Even if you don't plan on filing a claim, it's a good idea to let them know.

How to File a Claim for Car Scratches

If you’ve decided that filing a claim is the best move, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Below is the step-by-step process to file a claim:

1
Assess the Damage

Take photos of the scratches and note down any details about the incident.

2
Gather Information

Collect the other driver's information (if applicable) and any relevant documentation.

3
Contact Your Insurer

Report the incident to your insurance company and provide them with all necessary information. You can do this over the phone or through the company website or app.

4
Get a Repair Estimate

Obtain an estimate from a reputable repair shop to determine the cost of fixing the scratches.

5
File the Claim

Submit all the required documentation to your insurer, including photos, estimates and police reports (if applicable).

6
Cooperate With the Adjuster

Work with the claims adjuster to finalize the claim and schedule repairs.

If the repair estimate is less than your deductible, or you'd rather pay out of pocket to avoid a potential premium increase, you can typically cancel your car insurance claim as long as the insurer hasn't issued a payment yet.

FAQ About Car Insurance Coverage of Scratches

Car scratches are a common occurrence, so it's valuable to understand how your insurance policy handles them. Let's tackle some common questions about car insurance and scratches:

Will insurance payout for a scratch?
Will your insurance go up if you scratch your car?
What happens if another car scratches your car?

About Mark Fitzpatrick


Mark Fitzpatrick headshot

Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.