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Can I claim a scratch on my car insurance?

Business man examining car after minor accident
Here's what you should know...
  • Filing a claim leads to increased premiums, so you should consider whether or not the damage is worth the increase
  • Many car scratches are classified as not chargeable and filing a claim will not raise your premiums
  • Talking to your insurance company is the best way to discern whether a scratch is worth filing a claim over

You pay for car insurance to use it when you need to file a claim. Unfortunately, choosing to file a claim can lead to rate hikes that increase the cost of your monthly payments.

While the rate hike is understandable when you have a catastrophic at-fault loss, filing a claim for minor damage may end up becoming an expensive mistake. Whether or not filing the claim is wise will depend upon how the damage was sustained, how much the damage costs to repair, and how the claim will affect your policy in the long run.

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If you have a scratch on your paint and you are tempted to jump and file a claim, think twice before you call a claims adjuster. Picking up the phone, reporting a loss, and then accepting a claims payment can lead to rate surcharges and a loss of some of the best discounts in the marketplace.

There is a chance, however, that a scratch claim will not lead to rate increases in certain cases. Read this guide to filing claims on car scratches, and you can decide if filing is worth it.

How does the cause of the scratch affect your claim?

Before you decide whether or not you should file that scratch claim, the first thing you need to know is how the cause will affect the outcome. There is a difference between a chargeable claim and a claim that is not chargeable.

Claims that are not chargeable will not affect your car insurance rates or your eligibility for claims-free discounts in the future. The claims that are chargeable are ones in which you are considered to be primarily at-fault.

Here are some of the causes of paint scratches and whether or not the typical insurer would deem the loss chargeable:

– Scratches Caused By Vandalism

If your vehicle is keyed or it is vandalized in another way, the damage will be covered under your comprehensive coverage because comprehensive coverage is designed to pay for repairs that were caused by vandals. Since comprehensive claims are claims that are always considered to be non-fault, it could be in your interest to file a claim.

Whether or not the claim is worth filing depends on the cost to repair the scratches and how high your deductible is. If your damages are less than the amount of your deductible, you will be left to pay for the repairs on your own.

– Scratches from Carts in a Parking Lot

If you come out to your vehicle and discover that someone has hit your vehicle with a cart, these scratches may also be repaired under comprehensive coverage because you are not at-fault and the vehicle was unoccupied at the time. In some cases, the insurer may try to identify the party if there is a video of the incident.

– Scratches from a Falling Tree

Damage caused from falling objects can be filed under a comprehensive claim. Not only are scratches caused by falling trees covered, so are scratches that are caused by debris on the road that falls off of cars or trucks. You may need to provide the license plate number when this happens.

– Scratches from an Accident with Another Car or Object

If you are in a minor accident or you barely make contact with a stationary object, you may find that your fender or your bumper is in need of a paint detail. If this is the cause of your scrapes, the damage will be covered under your collision coverage.

Whether or not a collision claim will affect your rates depends on who is at-fault.

If you are the only car involved in the incident, you will be found 100 percent at fault, and your rates will go up. If there were multiple cars and you are found to be 50 percent at fault or less for the damages, the insurer is not allowed to surcharge you even though it is a collision claim.

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Someone Without Insurance Scratches Your Car

Your insurer helps you when you file a claim, and this is especially true when the other party does not have coverage. If someone damages your vehicle paint and they do not have insurance, you can file a claim under your collision cover.

If you have Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage, you may be able to waive your deductible. If you do not, you will have to pay your deductible before repairs are ordered.

The claims for uninsured motorists, even though they are collision claims, will not affect your future rates.

How to Decide if Filing a Claim for a Scratch is the Right Choice

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Now that you understand when a claim is considered chargeable and when a claim is not chargeable, it is time to learn if you should proceed in filing a chargeable claim.

There are instances where filing a claim is suggested, even when you know your rates are going to go up. However, filing is typically suggested when the cost of repairs is astronomically high, when you cannot afford repairs on your own, or when there is a liability claim for injuries and damages.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind so that you can make an informed choice:

– How much will the damage cost to repair?

Some vehicles have very expensive paint jobs. In fact, repairing some deeper scratches may require a part replacement and not just a new coat of paint. If this is the case, the cost of the repairs could be more than you can afford to cover out of pocket. You should get estimates on the repairs before filing anything and then assess the situation.

– How high is the deductible?

If you are carrying a high deductible to keep your premiums low, it could hinder your ability to file a claim.

– Will you lose discounts?

If you want to file a claim and are willing to accept surcharges, you might also like to know that the choice could lead to a loss of accident-free or claims-free discounts, which could raise your premiums by as much as 30 percent.

Not all claims are worth filing. If you have filed a claim that you regretted in the past, do your homework before you file a claim for a scratch.

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