Does car insurance cover self-inflicted damage?

Drivers with collision and comprehensive insurance are covered for damage they cause to their own car, unless the damage was purposeful or happened while breaking the law.

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Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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As long as your car insurance policy includes comprehensive and collision coverage, your insurance will cover damage to your vehicle even if you were the one who caused it.

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There are a few exceptions to this, but generally, as long as you have the right coverage, you’re covered if you back into a fire hydrant, take out a side mirror, crack your windshield with a rogue baseball, or otherwise bang up your car.

Key takeaways

  • Drivers with comprehensive and collision insurance are covered for damage they cause to their own vehicle.

  • Self-inflicted damage covered by your insurance includes damage caused by inattentiveness, like if your car rolls out of your driveway into a ditch.

  • Some types of self-inflicted damage aren’t covered, including purposeful damage or damage caused while you were breaking the law.

Does car insurance cover damage I cause to my own car?

Yes, car insurance will cover unintentional self-inflicted damage to your car if you have a full coverage policy. 

Though the term “full coverage” isn’t very accurate — there is no such thing as an insurance policy that covers everything — it is generally used to describe a policy that includes liability coverage, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage.

  • Liability coverage: Liability insurance covers the damage you cause to other people, including both bodily injury and property damage.

  • Collision coverage: Collision insurance covers damage to your own car from a collision, whether or not you are at fault.

  • Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive insurance covers non-collision-related damage to your car, like vandalism, fire and explosions, falling objects, weather-related damage, damage caused by animals, and theft.

→ Read more about full coverage car insurance

How is self-inflicted damage covered by my policy?

It depends on the type of damage. For example, if you threw a rock into a tree to knock down a stuck frisbee and the rock fell onto your windshield, you would file a comprehensive claim to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your windshield.

On the other hand, if you swerved on the road to avoid hitting a squirrel and accidentally ran into a fence post, your collision coverage would pay for the damage to your car and your liability insurance would pay for the damage you caused to someone else’s fence.

Insurance companies generally understand that humans aren’t perfect and will make mistakes from time to time. 

Whether you had a forgetful moment and left your sunroof open during a storm or you ran off the road because you were fiddling with the radio, your car insurance company will still pay your claims, even though you were the reason for the damage in the first place.

When would my car insurance deny a claim for self-inflicted damage?

Self-inflicted damage isn’t always covered by car insurance. There are several reasons your car insurance company might deny your claim for self-inflicted damage, including:

1. You damaged your car on purpose

Sometimes people might damage their car on purpose, either to commit insurance fraud or as an act of vandalism or rage. If you set fire to your car for the insurance money or take a golf club to your spouse’s car in a fit of anger, your insurance company isn’t going to cover the damage.

2. You broke the law

Accidental damage may not be covered in certain situations, either. For example, if you were breaking the law when your car was damaged, like driving under the influence or without a valid license, your insurance company could potentially deny the claim. 

3. The damage isn’t covered by your policy

You may also have a claim denied if the damage is specifically excluded from your coverage or goes beyond the limits of your policy. For example, if you only have liability coverage and you accidentally damage your car, your insurance company won’t pay for that because liability insurance only covers damage you cause to other people, not yourself.

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Does my car insurance cover a claim if I’m not in the car, like if my car rolls out of the driveway and hits my neighbor’s car?

If you forgot to set the parking brake and your car rolled into a ditch, your collision coverage would still pay for any damage to your car, minus your deductible. Similarly, if your car rolls away and damages someone else’s car, your insurance will probably cover it. 

Insurance follows the car, not the driver, which means you are covered for damage even if you weren’t the driver (or if there was no driver at all) up to the limits of your policy. 

Better yet, insurance companies don’t exclude forgetfulness or senseless mistakes, so if your car is stolen because you left the keys in it or your car rolls out of the driveway into the road, your insurance will likely cover the damage.

Can I file a liability claim for my own car?

No, liability insurance only covers damage you cause to other people or their property, up to the limits of your insurance policy.

If you damage your vehicle and you need to file a claim, you would file under your comprehensive or collision insurance. This is the case in almost every situation; if you caused the damage to your car or the damage wasn’t caused by a person (like hail or flood damage) you would not file a liability claim.

If someone else damages your car, you would file a claim against their liability insurance and they would pay for any damages. If they don’t have enough insurance to cover the damage they caused, they would still be required to pay for additional damages out-of-pocket.

But if you have collision coverage, your insurance company would pay the difference and take the other driver to court to recoup their expenses in a process called subrogation.

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Frequently asked questions

What happens if you run into your own car?

If both cars have collision coverage you could file a claim with your insurance company, but if you only have liability coverage you won’t be covered for damage you cause to your own property.

What type of auto insurance covers damage that you cause?

Damage you cause to someone else and their property is covered by your liability insurance, up to the limits of your policy. If you have collision coverage, you will also be covered for damages to your car if you hit a car or another object.

Does insurance cover if you hit an object?

If you have collision coverage, you are covered for damages to your vehicle if you hit an object, like a fence or a mailbox. If you don’t have collision coverage you will have to pay any costs to repair your car out-of-pocket.

Does insurance cover stupidity?

Yes, if you have full coverage and accidentally do something that damages your car, you will likely be covered for the claim, but this only applies to things that are covered by your insurance. If something isn’t included in your policy, you won’t be covered no matter what caused the damage.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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