Imagine walking out to your vehicle after a lovely dinner with friends, only to find a noticeable (and highly unattractive) dent in your driver’s side door. Angry and annoyed—with no one around to blame—you pull up your auto insurance app and poke around to see what you can find about cosmetic damage like this. Is it covered? Or do you have to decide between living with the new eyesore or paying to fix it yourself?
Many people assume their auto insurance won’t cover small types of damage like dents and scratches, but that’s not always the case. In some situations, it can be worth it to file a claim and get reimbursed. It just depends on how the damage occurred and how serious it is.
So how do you decide whether or not to bother with insurance? Well, it depends mostly on one simple question.
Why does your car have scratches and dents?
Unfortunately, most of the time when someone swipes your car door with theirs or scratches the side of your vehicle, it happens while you’re not around. You’ll most likely come across the ding or scrape the next morning…or maybe even weeks after it happens. So what’s the best course of action in these cases? Here are several common scenarios you may encounter and how to deal with each of them.
I Accidentally Scratched or Dented My Car
In short, if your car has visible scratches and dents because you hit another object, your collision coverage should cover the damage. If the accident was your fault and you file a claim through your insurance company, however, keep in mind that your premium could rise.
If the damage isn’t from a specific incident that you know of, your insurance company may not offer coverage to help you.
Someone Else Scratched or Dented My Car
If someone else caused the damage—by backing into your car, for example—and they file a claim with their insurance company, their liability insurance should cover you. If the damage is minor and it’s not worth it for them to file a claim and pay their deductible, you could ask them to pay you directly for the damage so you can repair your vehicle.
My Car Was Keyed
Since keying a car is an intentional act and considered vandalism, it should be covered under your auto policy’s comprehensive coverage. If the damage exceeds your deductible, it may be worth filing a claim. Comprehensive coverage claims likely won’t impact your premium as severely as collision claims will.
Keep in mind that your insurance company will probably require you to also file a police report for a vandalism claim. This should be done as soon as possible after you notice the damage so the authorities have a better chance of catching the perpetrator.
A Rock Hit My Windshield
If a rock flies up and hits your windshield while you’re driving, it can be nearly impossible to hold the person responsible accountable. If it occurs because someone is driving illegally—with a load that isn’t securely fastened down—you can contact the police and let them know what happened. This is particularly important if your life was endangered because of the incident.
In any case, if your windshield is hit by a rock and cracks, your comprehensive coverage will cover you if you have glass coverage. Your insurance company may reserve a lower deductible for glass replacement or even waive the deductible for the damage. Talk with your insurance agent so you know exactly what your policy provides in these situations.
What is your deductible?
Before you file a claim for any of these types of damage, consider your deductible—what you must pay before your insurance kicks in. Take your vehicle to an auto mechanic you trust to get an estimate for how much repairs will cost. Then determine how much the damage exceeds your deductible. If your deductible is $500, for example, and the cost to repair the damage is $600, it probably isn’t worth filing a claim. If there’s a big difference, it could be well worth it—especially if you have a newer or more expensive vehicle that costs more to fix.
Keep in mind that your premium may increase after you file a claim. If the cost of the damage doesn’t exceed the deductible by much, consider paying out-of-pocket instead. It can be a pain in the moment, but it could save you a lot of money in the long run by keeping your premium lower.
If you have any questions or concerns about your auto policy—what it does or doesn’t cover—we would love to talk with you. We can help you make changes to your current policy or find a new policy that better fits your needs. Contact us at any time or request an auto insurance quote on our website. We look forward to helping you!