Is it worth claiming on your car insurance for a scratch?

You can file a car scratch insurance claim to cover the cost of repairs. However, the potential increase in your insurance rates may not be worth filing a scratch car insurance claim. Read more below.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 25, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • Filing small car insurance claims can cause your rates to increase, but how much depends on several factors
  • Even minor scratches may cost hundreds of dollars to repair
  • The terms of your policy may require you to report some types of claims

With the cost to repair some scratches going into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, it is easy to understand why car owners would want to file a car insurance claim for a scratch.

However, because filing claims may cause your insurance rates to increase, there are times when it may be better to pay for the repairs yourself.

How Filing a Car Scratch Insurance Claim May Impact Your  Rates

The effect filing a claim has on your insurance rates depends on your claims history, the type of claim, and your insurance company’s policies.

How Insurance Companies Set Rates

Car insurance companies consider multiple factors when determining how much to charge for an insurance policy:

  • Driving record. Traffic violations, such as speeding tickets or driving under the influence, can increase your rates because the insurance company considers you a high-risk driver.
  • Car make and model. Insurance companies usually charge more for cars that are more expensive to repair, more likely to be stolen, or more likely to be damaged in an accident.
  • How much you drive. The more you drive, the more likely you will be in an accident. Insurance companies usually charge more for people who drive more miles than the average driver.
  • Credit history. Some insurance companies charge people with bad credit higher rates. However, this practice is not legal in some states.
  • Claims history: At-fault claims usually increase rates the most, but if you file many claims, your rates may be higher regardless of whether you were at fault.

Insurance companies may also consider other factors to determine your rates, such as your age, gender, marital status, and where you live.

When Filing a Claim May Increase Your Rates

In most cases, if you file a claim because of an accident that you caused, your rates will increase and stay higher for an average of three years, according to III. However, some insurance companies have accident forgiveness programs that may apply. If you file so many claims for at-fault accidents that your insurance company decides you are too risky to insure, it may choose not to renew your policy.

Most insurance companies do not increase rates as much for comprehensive claims as for claims related to car accidents. This is because comprehensive claims do not cost the insurance company as much money as other types of claims, and car owners have less control over the causes of these claims. However, the more claims you make, the more likely your rates will go up.

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How To Decide Whether To File a Scratch Car Insurance Claim

If you have a scratch on your car because you were involved in an accident with another vehicle, you should probably report the accident to your insurance company. Not doing so may violate the terms of your contract and put your coverage at risk. It also makes it more difficult for your insurance company to defend you if the other party says you are at fault and tries to collect damages.

For damage that is covered by comprehensive insurance, weigh the cost of paying to fix the damage yourself versus the cost of your deductible and any potential increase to your rates. Keep in mind that the final cost of repairs may exceed the initial estimate. Your insurance company representative may be able to estimate how much your rates will increase if you file a claim.

If you decide that small claims are not worth filing, talk to your insurance company about increasing your deductible. If you only intend to use your insurance to cover significant losses, you can save money on your rates by choosing a higher deductible.

When To File a Car Scratch Insurance Claim

Most insurance policies require customers to file claims promptly. Read your policy to find out if there is a specific deadline for filing a claim. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be for your insurance company to investigate your claim.

Additionally, if the damage to your car becomes worse because you failed to repair the initial damage promptly, the insurance company may not pay for the additional repairs. For example, if you have a deep scratch on your car and you ignore it and rust develops, the insurance company may not pay for the cost to fix the additional damage caused by the rust.

Types of Car Insurance That Cover a Scratch

You can purchase two types of car insurance to cover repairs for scratches on your vehicle, collision or comprehensive. But what’s the difference between collision and comprehensive auto insurance coverage? Let’s take a look.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage applies when a car accident causes damage to your vehicle. You can use this coverage for single-car accidents, such as hitting a tree or curb, a multiple vehicle accident that you caused, or a multiple vehicle accident someone else caused.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your car from something other than a car accident. Examples of damage that are covered by comprehensive insurance include weather, vandalism, theft, and impacts with animals.

These coverages usually have deductibles that reduce the amount your insurance company will pay for a loss. For example, if you have comprehensive coverage with a $250 deductible and file a claim for a $1,000 repair, your insurance will pay $750.

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The Final Decision: Should you file a car scratch insurance claim?

Not filing a car insurance claim for a scratch may save you money by avoiding increased rates. However, because even minor scratches can be expensive to repair, you could pay more money for repairs than you would for higher insurance rates by repairing the damage yourself. Before making your final decision, compare all the potential advantages and disadvantages of each choice and review your policy to confirm whether you are required to report the claim.

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