Does auto insurance cover scratches?


In short, yes auto insurance will cover scratches. However, the scratches have to be caused by a covered peril in your policy, like a car accident or vandalism. And, depending on your deductible, it may not be worth filing a claim.

Kara McGinley

Published April 16, 2020|3 min read


Editorial disclosure


  • Car insurance will cover scratches, assuming you have comprehensive and collision coverage and the scratches are caused by a covered peril

  • Comprehensive and collision coverage require you to pay a deductible, so if your car is scratched it might be cheaper to pay out of pocket for the repairs

  • If you are in an at-fault accident and scratch someone else’s car, your car insurance liability coverage will pay for the repairs

Car insurance is financial protection in case you cause an accident with your car and damage someone else’s vehicle or cause them bodily injury. Car insurance will also protect your car if it is damaged in an accident, stolen or damaged by another peril, like falling objects, fire, or flood.

Car accidents can cause all different types of damage and unintended consequences, and this includes scratches. That said, scratches can be caused by perils other than car accidents, like hail damage, and whether or not you’re protected will depend on the type of coverage you have.

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When does car insurance cover scratches?

A car insurance policy is made up of different types of coverage and each type offers different protection. Whether or not scratches will be covered depends on what caused the damage and which coverage protects you from that damage. Below are the types of coverage that make up a “full coverage” car insurance policy.

Coverage TypeWhat It Does
Bodily injury liabilityThe part of your liability coverage that pays for medical bills if you've injured someone in an accident
Property damage liabilityThe other part of liability coverage, covers the cost of property damage you've caused in an accident
Personal injury protectionCovers medical expenses for you or your passengers after an accident
Uninsured/underinsured motoristCovers the costs if you're in an accident caused by a driver with little or no car insurance
ComprehensiveCovers damage to your car that happens when you're not driving
CollisionCovers damage to your car after a car accident, no matter who was at fault

If you have a bare bones car insurance policy, you might not be protected from certain perils. For example, if a tree branch falls on your car and you have comprehensive coverage, then you will be protected, but if you don’t have comp coverage as part of your policy then you will have to pay for the repairs out of pocket.

If you have collision coverage, then your car will be covered from damages caused by a collision no matter who was at fault. So if you caused a car accident and it resulted in scratches on your vehicle, then your collision coverage will protect you. Collision insurance, along with uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, can also cover the damage from a hit and run, so if someone scrapes your car and drives off, or scratches your bumper while it’s parked, the damage may still be covered by insurance.

Many insurance companies sell comprehensive and collision coverage together, however some might sell them as two separate products. Together, they are the parts of an auto policy that protect your vehicle itself.


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When does car insurance not cover scratches?

If you do not have comprehensive and collision coverage then scratches probably won’t be covered, unless you got into a car accident and the other person was found to be at-fault.

There are a few other reasons why a claim might not be covered.

  • The scratches were caused by general wear and tear over time

  • You were negligent or acted in a reckless manner

  • You acted in violation of your car insurance policy

  • You waited too long to file a claim

Car insurance also has coverage limits, meaning the maximum amount you will be paid out for a claim. If you have low limits, there is a chance you may only be partially paid out for scratches.

Should I file a car insurance claim for scratches?

When it comes to scratches to your car, sometimes it might be cheaper to pay out of pocket than to file a claim.

Both comprehensive and collision coverage require you to pay a deductible (which is usually $500 or $1,000) before your coverage can kick in. If the price of your deductible exceeds the price of repairs, it’s probably easier to pay out of pocket — especially if the scratches are the only damage.

Filing a claim can also lead to a rate increase, especially if the damage was your fault, like if you backed into a telephone pole. If the costs of repairing the scratches on your vehicle aren’t much more than your deductible, then it might still make sense to pay out of pocket and avoid a rate increase and a claim on your record.

Generally speaking, if you get into an accident with another person you should file a car insurance claim. If the other driver was at-fault, then their insurance company will pay you for the scratch damage. If you don’t tell your insurance company about the accident and the other person later files a claim against you, your insurance company might deny you coverage, which leaves you on the hook.

What if I scratch someone else’s car?

Car insurance protects you if you cause damage to someone else’s vehicle. If you get into an accident with someone, your car insurance liability coverage will pay for any damages that you are liable for, including scratches.

If you are driving someone else’s car and it gets scratched, you can still file a claim and your liability insurance should cover you. That said, the owner of the car will have to contact their insurer and they may pay for the damages.