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Car insurance covers a lot of damage, but does it cover paint scratches? Depending on how severe the scratch is, it could impact the value of your car. And, of course, it can make an unsightly blemish on an otherwise shiny new vehicle. Here we’ll look at whether car insurance covers scratches, including what most insurers’ responses are to the problem.
In general, car insurance will cover paint scratches if your comprehensive, collision, uninsured motorist, or scratch and dent policy includes such damage under their terms. The severity of the damage, and the cost to repair it, are also crucial deciding factors.
Of course, coverage options vary based on the insurer you pick and how much your deductible and policy premiums are. Don’t worry, though—we’ll explain everything you need to know here.
What to Do if Someone Scratches Your Car While Parked?
If someone scratches your car while you’re parked, how severe the damage is—and how it happened—will decide what type of coverage it falls under.
For example, uninsured motorist coverage can reimburse you for injuries or property damage if the other person scraped your car with theirs and doesn’t have insurance. If the scratch happens when someone backs into you and causes additional damage, however, that could fall under collision coverage.
Another potential scenario is if someone keys your car while it’s parked. That falls under an act of vandalism, which is included in most insurers’ comprehensive policies.
Depending on how it happened, you’ll need to file the appropriate claim with your insurance company. Then, you will have to pay the applicable deductible before the insurer provides the funds to repair your vehicle.
Will My Insurance Cover a Paint Scratch?
Depending on how bad the scratch is, your insurance policy may cover it. Whether it will cover the damage can depend on the cost of fixing the paint—if the expense is more than the amount of your deductible, then it makes sense to file a claim.
If the damage amounts to more than the value of your car, the insurer would instead mark the vehicle as a total loss than repair it.
But another deciding factor for paint scratch coverage is how the incident happened. The circumstances surrounding the scratch are the key to determining how you’ll file a claim.
Collision Coverage and Scratches
For a scratch to fall under collision coverage, certain factors must be present. First, you must be driving the vehicle—collision incidents are ones that happen when you’re behind the wheel (whether the damage is strictly your fault or not).
Things like scraping a pole with your car, finding scratches after an automatic car wash, or someone else’s car door knocking into yours in a parking lot can all fall under collision coverage.
Comprehensive Coverage and Scratches
Comprehensive coverage tends to handle weather and other scenarios that result in scratches. From nature scratching your paint to the wind knocking objects into your door to acts of vandalism, comprehensive coverage takes care of things that are outside your control as a responsible driver.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Scratches
Generally, uninsured motorist coverage applies to severe incidents that require significant repairs to your vehicle. However, depending on the conditions under which your car was scratched—like a hit and run—then scratch repairs might be part of the deal when you receive the insurance payout.
Scratch and Dent Insurance
Some insurers offer additional coverage under separate policies for scratches and dents or ‘cosmetic’ repairs. This coverage varies widely and is not available with every insurer—more on that below.
How Do Insurers Decide Whether to Cover Paint Scratches?
Unfortunately, most insurance carriers don’t outright say they’ll cover paint damage under any of their policies. It’s often on a case-by-case basis that they determine whether to pay, and a lot of factors go into the decision.
When filing a scratch claim with any insurer, you need to choose the right coverage type under which to submit it. Also, you’ll need to pay your deductible before the company will pay out for damages. Here’s how leading insurance companies may address damage from paint scratches.
Geico’s comprehensive physical damage coverage “Pays for damage to your car from theft, vandalism, flood, fire or other covered perils.” Collision coverage helps with damage when another vehicle or an object hits you.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may also cover your damages, depending on the circumstances.
Similar to Geico and other leading insurers, Allstate offers comprehensive, collision, and uninsured motorist coverage options. Therefore, depending on the conditions that resulted in a paint scratch, you’ll need to file your claim accordingly—and pay the deductible.
Progressive’s comprehensive insurance coverage spans everything from vandalism to windshield and glass damage, plus rock, tree limb, and weather-related incidents, including paint problems caused by those events. Depending on the scenario, you might file a collision coverage or uninsured motorist claim.
Like other insurers, State Farm offers comprehensive, collision, and uninsured motorist coverage options.
How Much Does It Cost to Paint Over a Scratch on a Car?
The cost to fix a scratch on a car varies, but if you’re only applying a coat of paint, it can cost as little as the price of a paint sample. If you have a different paint job, the paint can be the priciest component involved.
In other cases, cleaning and painting over a light scratch can cost less than a hundred dollars.
But if you must visit a repair shop for help, you can expect to pay at least two hundred or more dollars for even the smallest job. Bigger jobs, including those that involve structural damage to your car or even a lot of sanding and priming, can cost upwards of $1,000.
For some drivers, it’s cheaper to pay out of pocket for repairs versus paying a deductible with their insurer. Of course, filing an insurance claim typically increases your premiums, too, and may void your good driver discount.
Getting a quote on repairs is a smart first step. That way, you can decide whether it’s worth it to file an insurance claim or if it’s better to pay on your own (or let the scratch stay).
How Do You Fix Paint Scratches on a Car by Yourself?
If you decide not to file a claim and instead DIY a fix for paint scratches, you have a few options. However, whether you can successfully repair the scratch depends on how deep it is plus what equipment you have available.
How to Fix Light Scratches
For light scratches that don’t peel back paint, waxing can prove an effective way of minimizing the scrape. A product like Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover can help buff out minor scratches.
How to Fix Deeper Paint Scratches
For more significant damage, using a micro-abrasive product like Meguiars Ultimate Compound—in combination with a buffer or vigorous application via a foam applicator—can help repair damage.
Fixing Deep Paint Scratches and Dings
If the scratch has reached the paint through the top clear coat, you will probably need to sand and buff the area. Then, you need to fill in the scratch. Applying a product like 3M’s Bondo putty can help fill even the deepest cracks. Afterward, you can paint and wax the area to conceal the repair.
How to Get Paint to Fix a Vehicle Scratch
While some cars—usually black or white ones—can use color-matching compounds or store-bought paint, other paint jobs require more effort to fix. The good news is, most dealerships carry small bottles of every paint color for each make and model of vehicle.
Therefore, you can typically buy a small bottle of the manufacturer’s paint that will exactly match your car’s original paint job.
Is Scratch and Dent Insurance Worth It?
Some insurers offer scratch and dent insurance, or some variation of coverage to handle minor cosmetic issues. State Farm, for example, offers Paintless Dent Repair for some vehicle damage.
Cosmetic coverage varies by insurer, and the requirements can be precise, as far as the mileage and condition of the vehicle to be repaired. It’s also not guaranteed that your policy will cover all scratches and damage—it’s up to the claims agent and the company whether to help you out.
Of course, the best way to find out what your insurer covers is by calling and asking. However, you should be careful about the questions you ask and claims you file, as they can remain in a permanent record that can affect your rates.
Another option is to call around to mechanic shops and get an up-front price for the scratch repair. Then, you can determine whether it’s worth navigating your insurance policy for assistance.