Car Scratches and Car Insurance

What to Do When Someone Scratches Your Car

Scratched Car
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There’s nothing worse than hearing the earsplitting sound of something scraping down the side of your car—or worse than coming back from a shopping trip or short period of leaving your car unattended and seeing that your vehicle is all scratched up.

Car scratches are not all handled the same when it comes to car insurance; a lot of variables come into play. What kind of car insurance claim are you looking at if you have a scratch in your vehicle?

How Did Your Vehicle Get Scratched?

The actual cause of the scratch makes a huge difference when it comes to whether your car insurance carrier is going to pay to repair the damages. Scratches caused by different factors are covered by different types of coverage—and for some types of damage, if you don’t have a certain type of coverage, you’re just plain out of luck. Knowing what caused the damage, then, is the first step to getting an insurance claim filed.

Scratches Covered by Comprehensive Coverage

If you have a scratch caused by a comprehensive coverage factor, you need comprehensive listed on the damaged vehicle in order for your insurance company to pay for repairing the damage. 

• Your car was keyed in an act of vandalism.

• A tree branch fell on your vehicle.

• A shopping cart pushed by the wind collides with your car.

Most likely you will have a deductible on your comprehensive coverage, and you must cover the amount of the deductible before insurance coverage kicks in and covers the costs of having your vehicle repaired.

A vandalized car insurance claim usually requires a police report.

Example: John's truck was horribly scratched all along the driver's side of the vehicle. The vehicle had clearly been intentionally scratched based on the irregular markings and the severity of the scratches. John files a police report.

He then files a claim with his insurance carrier because he had comprehensive coverage listed on his truck. His deductible is $100. John is responsible for paying his $100 deductible, and his car insurance policy will cover the remaining cost of repairing the damage.

Scratches Covered by Collision Coverage

Collision coverage is required for a scratch when the scratch occurs from hitting another object. It is easy to misjudge the distance from an inanimate object when you are in a tight squeeze situation. Sometimes a scratch is just unavoidable. A collision-related scratch is going to come with a deductible unless someone other than the person driving your vehicle caused the damage.

• Barely scraping by an inanimate object, such as a mailbox or pole

• Car door hitting your car in a parking lot

• Sideswiping another vehicle

• Scratched in car wash

• Scraping tree branches while driving

Example: Driving down the highway a vehicle merges into John's lane and sideswipes the passenger side of his vehicle. John is able to maintain control of his vehicle, and they both pull over into the nearest gas station. John gets the insurance information of the at-fault driver and is able to file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance policy.

Michigan drivers have a different set of rules.

What If I Don't Know How My Car Got Scratched?

Not knowing how your vehicle was scratched could be a problem. You can still file the claim and discuss the situation with the​ claim adjuster. Claim adjusters see so much damage they may be able to get a good idea of what caused the damage just by looking at the scratches. Severe scratches are often caused by a collision. It is going to be up to the claim adjuster how to proceed.

Considering doing the repair on your own? Check out Popular Mechanic's 10 Car Scratch Repair Tips.

Scratches can range in severity and cost to repair. Get estimates from a body shop to determine how much repairs will cost. Keep your deductible in mind when deciding whether the scratch warrants a car insurance claim. Sometimes you are better off repairing the damage and not filing a claim at all.

While it's ultimately a personal choice, seek the help of a licensed insurance agent who can guide you as to whether you are looking at a worthwhile claim for your given situation.