Are Car Scratches Covered by Insurance? It Depends on Your Policy and Deductible
SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More
Car insurance does cover scratches and dents, depending on the type of policy you hold. Comprehensive insurance typically covers damage not resulting from collisions, such as vandalism or hail, while collision insurance covers damages after striking a physical object like a car or a tree.
That said, you will only want to file a claim for a scratch if the repair costs greatly exceed your deductible. Keep reading to learn more about when you should file a claim for a scratch, as well as the average cost for different types of scratches.
Does Auto Insurance Cover Scratches?
Car insurance may cover car scratches, but this is contingent upon your car insurance type and how the scratch occurred. Comprehensive coverage is your go-to for non-collision-related scratches, such as those from vandalism or natural disasters, covering repairs post-deductible. For scratches caused by striking a physical object such as another car, a tree or a guardrail, then collision coverage should cover your scratches, even if you were the at-fault driver.
If you get into a car accident with another driver and they are at fault, then their insurance company should cover scratches and other damages caused to your car.
Does Car Insurance Cover Keying?
Keying is a form of vandalism, which is covered only if you’ve added comprehensive coverage to your insurance policy. If you have a liability-only policy, then keying-related damages will likely not be covered.
Does Car Insurance Cover Dents?
If you have collision insurance, then dents resulting from a car accident should be covered. If your dents were caused by hail, a fallen tree branch or some other non-collision source, then you will need comprehensive insurance if you want coverage.
How Much Do Car Scratch Repairs Cost?
Minor Car Scratches
Smaller scratches like scuffs, which only lightly damage the clear coat over the paint, are the least expensive and simplest to repair, often requiring just hand buffing or polishing. These are sometimes hard to detect due to the lack of color change and generally cost under $100 to fix.
Clear-coat scratches go deeper into the clear coat but don't affect the paint color or reach the primer and metal. These can be polished down to nearly invisible, though not entirely erased and typically also cost under $100 for professional repair.
Major Car Scratches
Major scratches like paint scratches penetrate through the clear coat down to the primer, necessitating touch-up paint for correction. Visible as white marks, these scratches require sanding, buffing and repainting of the area, leading to repair costs ranging from $400 to $1,000 or more.
Deep paint scratches, on the other hand, reach down to the metal, posing a risk of rust if not promptly addressed. These scratches are the most costly to repair, with prices ranging from $800 to $1,500 on average, due to the extensive work needed to fix the damage and prevent future corrosion.
Can I File a Claim for Car Scratches and Dents?
You have every right to file a car insurance claim if someone scratches or dents your car. That said, it may not be worth filing a claim at all depending on the severity of the scratch since you will need to pay a deductible. The most common car insurance deductible is $500 and with minor scratches generally costing less than $100 to repair, this is a type of repair you will likely have to pay out of pocket.
Even if the repair slightly exceeds your deductible — say your deductible is $500 and you’re quoted $520 to repair it — you will also need to remember that filing a claim can result in your premium going up when you renew your policy. In this case, your insurance company will only cover $20 after you pay your $500 deductible and you’ll be paying even more in higher rates over the long run.
Moreover, consider the impact of filing a claim on your insurance history. Frequent claims within a short period can flag you as a high-risk driver to insurance companies, potentially leading to policy non-renewal or cancellation. Therefore, it's advisable to file a claim only when the repair costs significantly exceed the deductible and the damage impacts the vehicle's safety or operational integrity.
Can I DIY a Scratch on My Car?
As with anything, there are pros and cons of doing things yourself. The table below breaks down the positives and negatives of tackling a scratch on your own.
Risk of further damage
Quality of finish
- Cost savings: DIY scratch repair can significantly reduce the costs associated with professional bodywork. Instead of paying for labor and the markup on materials, you only need to purchase the necessary supplies.
- Convenience: Repairing a scratch on your car by yourself means you can do it on your own time without the need to schedule appointments or wait for the car to be serviced at a shop.
- Learning experience: Taking on the task of repairing a car scratch offers a hands-on opportunity to learn more about car maintenance and repair techniques, which can be valuable knowledge for future automotive care.
- Personal satisfaction: Completing the repair yourself can provide a sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction in having fixed the problem with your own skills and effort.
- Risk of further damage: Without the proper tools, knowledge or experience, there's a risk of inadvertently worsening the scratch or causing additional damage to the car's finish.
- Quality of finish: Professional body shops have access to high-quality materials and equipment that may not be readily available to the DIY enthusiast, potentially affecting the quality of the final repair.
- Time investment: Depending on the severity and type of scratch, the repair process can be time-consuming. What might take a professional a few hours could end up taking significantly longer without experience.
- Warranty concerns: DIY repairs on newer cars can sometimes void warranty coverage related to paint and bodywork, leading to potentially higher costs in the event of future issues.
How To Get Car Repair Insurance for Scratches and Dents
If you’re still paying off your car, then it’s likely that you already have collision and comprehensive insurance in your policy so you will not need to buy additional coverage. However, you might still want to save money by shopping for a new policy.
To shop around, it's prudent to obtain quotes from three to five different insurance providers. Each insurer will request specific information regarding you and your vehicle, such as its make, model and year, in addition to details about your driving record, date of birth and driver's license number. Compiling this information for several insurers may require a significant amount of time.
Alternatively, you can use a service like SmartFinancial to streamline this process. Complete a quick questionnaire about your coverage needs and get a free auto insurance quote today!