There’s nothing worse than hearing the earsplitting sound of something scraping down the side of your car—or worse than coming back from a shopping trip or short period of leaving your car unattended and seeing that your vehicle is all scratched up. Car scratches are not all handled the same when it comes to car insurance; a lot of variables come into play. What kind of car insurance claim are you looking at if you have a scratch in your vehicle?
How Your Vehicle Got Scratched Makes a Difference
The actual cause of the scratch makes a huge difference when it comes to whether your car insurance carrier is going to pay to repair the damages. Scratches caused by different factors are covered by different types of coverage—and for some types of damage, if you don’t have a certain type of coverage, you’re just plain out of luck. Knowing what caused the damage, then, is the first step to getting an insurance claim filed.
Scratches Covered by Comprehensive Coverage
If you have a scratch caused by a comprehensive coverage factor, you need comprehensive listed on the damaged vehicle in order for your insurance company to pay for repairing the damage.
Your car was keyed in an act of vandalism.
A tree branch fell on your vehicle.
A shopping cart pushed by the wind collides with your car.
Most likely you will have a deductible on your comprehensive coverage, and you must cover the amount of the deductible before insurance coverage kicks in and covers the costs of having your vehicle repaired. A vandalized car insurance claim usually requires a police report.
Example: John's truck was horribly scratched all along the driver's side of the vehicle. The vehicle had clearly been intentionally scratched based on the irregular markings and the severity of the scratches. John files a police report. He then files a claim with his insurance carrier because he had comprehensive coverage listed on his truck. His deductible is $100. John is responsible for paying his $100 deductible, and his car insurance policy will cover the remaining cost of repairing the damage.
Scratches Covered by Collision Coverage
Collision coverage is required for a scratch when the scratch occurs from hitting another object. It is easy to misjudge the distance from an inanimate object when you are in a tight squeeze situation. Sometimes a scratch is just unavoidable. A collision-related scratch is going to come with a deductible unless someone other than the person driving your vehicle caused the damage.
Barely scraping by an inanimate object, such as a mailbox or pole
Car door hitting your car in a parking lot
Sideswiping another vehicle
Scratched in a car wash
Scraping tree branches while driving
Example: Driving down the highway a vehicle merges into John's lane and sideswipes the passenger side of his vehicle. John is able to maintain control of his vehicle, and they both pull over into the nearest gas station. John gets the insurance information from the at-fault driver and is able to file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance policy. Michigan drivers have a different set of rules.
If You Don't Know How Your Car Got Scratched
Not knowing how your vehicle was scratched could be a problem. You can still file the claim and discuss the situation with the claim adjuster. Claim adjusters see so much damage they may be able to get a good idea of what caused the damage just by looking at the scratches.
Severe scratches are often caused by a collision. It is going to be up to the claim adjuster how to proceed. Considering doing the repair on your own? Check out Popular Mechanic's 10 Car Scratch Repair Tips.
Scratches can range in severity and cost to repair. Get estimates from a body shop to determine how much repairs will cost. Keep your deductible in mind when deciding whether the scratch warrants a car insurance claim.
Sometimes you are better off repairing the damage and not filing a claim at all. While it's ultimately a personal choice, seek the help of a licensed insurance agent who can guide you as to whether you are looking at a worthwhile claim for your given situation.
Car fires are always a scary situation. They can obviously do a lot of damage and they can occur in a couple of different ways. Comprehensive coverage will cover fire damage to your vehicle regardless of what causes the fire, but it's important that you purchase the coverage for your car insurance policy before the loss occurs.
What Is Comprehensive Coverage?
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle that results from something other than a collision. It's typically optional by state law but your lender will probably require it if you've financed your vehicle and it's collateral for the loan. A deductible usually applies.
If a fire causes $3,000 worth of damage to your car and you have a $500 deductible on your comprehensive coverage, your insurance company will pay $2,500 of the costs of repairs.
Car Fire Scenarios—Arson
You don't often hear about cars being intentionally set on fire, but it happens and it would typically be considered a criminal act and at the very least vandalism. You must file a police report. Comprehensive coverage would cover your vehicle.
A garage fire can cause a whole lot of damage not only to your home and its contents but to your vehicles as well. Your car insurance policy is your only option for compensation if your car is parked in your garage and it sustains damage from a fire. You must have comprehensive coverage. Home owner's policies never cover automobiles.
Sometimes vehicle engines can catch on fire due to mechanical problems. Although car insurance policies typically don't cover mechanical failure, fire is an exception.
Comprehensive coverage will cover the cost to repair your vehicle if your engine becomes engulfed in flames while you're driving on a highway, but you might well have a total loss on your hands instead—the vehicle can't be repaired and saved. Your car insurance policy will pay the actual cash value of your vehicle less your deductible.
A Car Accident
It usually takes a pretty severe accident to start a fire but, unfortunately, it does happen. It's probably a good idea to review the situation with your claims adjuster if you were in a collision and a fire started due to the incident. Whether the accident would fall under collision or comprehensive coverage will vary according to your exact circumstances and your insurance carrier.
Even if you don't have collision coverage on your insurance policy, there's a good chance that you could still be covered if you have comprehensive coverage.
When Your Vehicle Is a Total Loss
Be sure to call the appropriate authorities as soon as possible if you find that you can't put your car fire out yourself or if you're not sure that you got it out entirely.
Car fires often cause the vehicle to be a total loss. Having comprehensive coverage can make a horrible situation a little more bearable because you'll know you won't have to cover the expenses all on your own. Review your policy because it's always better to know what your car insurance policy covers before a loss occurs so you're not surprised in a claim situation.