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

Filing a claim can drastically increase your auto insurance rates. Drivers with one at-fault accident pay $137.75/mo more on average than those with clean records.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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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...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Apr 20, 2020

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Things to remember...
  • Premiums can rise as a result of filing claims
  • You should consider the deductible before deciding if you want to file the claim
  • It may prove beneficial to cover smaller claims out of your own pocket


You sign up for insurance so that you can protect your assets and safeguard yourself against losses.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should file a claim for every little scratch on your car.

When it comes to simple property damage and smaller issues, it may be better to just pay for the repair on your own.

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The Right Coverage

There are different coverage levels that you can invest in. While liability is designed to cover the damage you may cause to someone else’s car in an accident, collision takes care of the damages to your own car.

Comprehensive is the type of plan that typically takes care of scratches and parking lot damage.

The coverage limit of a comprehensive plan is your car’s actual cash value, and it is typically required by finance companies when they issue loans.

If your car is paid in full, you can still carry comprehensive protection for your own peace of mind.

When you file the claim, you’ll have to cover the deductible. The deductible amount is deducted from the value of the claim, so you’ll have to pay that difference to the body shop.

Deductibles are generally a set dollar amount, and the amount will be clearly listed on your policy. You can get a plan with a zero deductible, but you’ll pay a premium for this peace of mind.

If you’ve been trying to get your insurance premiums down, a higher deductible can help.

You can also find lower rates by taking the time to shop around for a more budget-friendly plan.

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How Policy Rates are Set

There are several factors that play into your premium amount. While you don’t have control over your age or gender, there are other factors that you can control.

These include:

  • Driving record
  • The type of car you drive
  • Your credit score
  • The type of coverage you choose

The one factor you may have the most control over is your claims history. Research shows that filing claims can drastically increase your rates.

Just one “at-fault” accident can raise your premiums by roughly 38 percent unless you have some type of special claims forgiveness clause.

Rates can nearly double if you’re involved in two accidents. You can expect the higher rates to remain in effect for three to five years.

Comprehensive claims do result in the lowest increase at a modest two percent because a comprehensive claim does not reflect on your own driving skills in any way.

However, filing multiple claims for non-accident damage can still result in higher rates.

Sometimes the Claim is Not Worth It

You have to look at the cost of the repair after your deductible is covered. In some cases, you may decide that a modest increase is well worth it in order to have the insurance cover a costly repair.

However, there are times when you’re definitely better off just paying for the damage on your own and avoiding the claim:

  • Moving violations are on the record
  • The repair is just a little more than your deductible
  • The repair is less than your deductible

If the scratch is the result of a motor vehicle accident, then you may be legally required to file a report the accident.

States set the reporting requirements based on a range of criteria, including whether there was an injury and the amount of the property damage.

If your scratch is the result of an accident, then you’ll want to check the state reporting requirements. If it’s from a parking lot or vandals, then the choice will still be up to you.

Watch the Delays

You may want to take a few days to make a decision about the claim, but don’t wait too long. Most companies have a sunset date on when you can submit a claim.

You can actually speak with your insurance agent to see what the deadline is.

If you decide to move forward with the claim, be sure to get all relevant paperwork submitted before that expiration date.

Work with the adjuster to ensure that the report can be turned in promptly, and answer any additional questions that your agent may have.

Following these steps can keep the process moving smoothly and help you avoid problems down the road.

You can keep your insurance premiums down by paying for these small claims and avoiding the process. You’ll still have the insurance in place for larger accidents or claims, and you won’t have to worry about rising premiums.

If you’re still concerned about the cost of your plan, then shop around to see if another provider can help you lower your costs.

Begin shopping around now to see how much you could save! Use our free comparison tool below.

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