Can I claim a scratch on my car insurance?

Free Car Insurance Comparison

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Call for FREE quotes: (855) 425-8122

Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Feb 14, 2018

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

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 the following:

If you have a scratch on your paint and you are tempted to 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.

Check out our free car insurance comparison tool above — just enter your ZIP code to compare the cheapest rates instantly!

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, what coverage you need to carry for compensation, and whether or not the typical insurer would deem the loss chargeable:

Cause of DamageCoverage RequiredChargeable?Considerations
VandalismComprehensiveNoIf the cost to repair the damage is less than or not much over your deductible, skip insurance and pay for the repair yourself.
A Cart in a Parking LotComprehensiveNo (if vehicle was parked)Insurance company may request video to determine fault.
Fallen Tree or BranchesComprehensiveNoIf you know a big storm is coming, be careful about where you park.
Highway DebrisComprehensiveNoTry to get a license plate number if debris flew off another vehicle.
Car AccidentCollisionYes. You are at fault if you caused the accident. Your rates will increase.Consider the cost of the damage and your deductible and increased rates. If you will pay more in the long run by filing a claim for minor damage, paying out of pocket may be the better option. If you are less than 50 percent responsible, your insurer can not penalize you.
Accident Caused by an Uninsured DriverUninsured Motorist CoverageNoIf you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, your collision coverage can pay for the damages, but you will have to meet your deductible, first.

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


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.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save!

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Call for FREE quotes: (855) 425-8122

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.

Start comparing car insurance quotes now and find the right coverage for you by entering your ZIP into the box below.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save!

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption