Will My Insurance Cover Car Wash Damage?

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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: Apr 29, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • You may receive compensation if you can prove negligence was involved
  • Some car washes require drivers to sign waivers releasing them of being held liable 
  • Every car insurance offers different coverage

Whether you have a busy schedule or you prefer to let someone else do the work, your local car wash offers a quick and easy solution to a dirty vehicle. You can pay someone to wash, dry, buff, and shine your car and restore it to its former glory.

But what happens if your car is damaged in the process? You may wonder, will my insurance cover car wash damage? 

Well, it depends. You may be able to get compensation for vehicle damage from a negligent car wash if you can prove that damage was caused by the car wash owner or employee. That said, even if the car wash company is responsible for the damage, your compensation options depend on the type of insurance coverage you have. Read on to learn more.

The Specifics of Car Wash Damage Coverage 

You may be eligible for compensation for car wash damage from your insurance company, but it depends on the circumstances. Car insurance typically covers physical damage caused by events such as vandalism, accidents, or inclement weather—not routine wear and tear. This may mean your insurance company will not cover scratches, chips, or other damage caused by a car wash. 

That said, you may still get compensation for car wash damages if you can prove negligence from the owner or employees. Many auto insurance claims hinge on negligence, which is a failure to act with the proper duty of care for a situation. 

In the case of a car wash owner or employee, this may mean:

  • They use poorly maintained car wash equipment
  • Employees are not properly trained
  • There are not adequate instructions on how to operate the car wash equipment
  • They fail to follow safety guidelines 

Simply put, negligence would mean that the owner of the car wash operation was aware of an unsafe or potentially hazardous situation involving the property, equipment, or staff and didn’t take appropriate steps to correct it. Note that negligence does not apply to situations that involve a spontaneous malfunction, which is out of the owner’s control.

For example, say a car wash doesn’t have signs that provide instructions for how to properly drive onto the automated car wash track. When you drive in, you miss the track and damage your wheels or rocker panel. In this case, the owner of the car wash company may be liable because they didn’t meet the expected standard of care, which is to provide clear instructions on how to operate the equipment. 

What if I Signed a Waiver?

Some car washes require drivers to sign a waiver releasing them of being held liable for car wash damages. This protects car wash owners in the event of: 

  • Equipment failure
  • Scratches or dents caused by the equipment

However, there’s a difference between damage that’s possible and protected by a waiver and damages that are caused by negligent actions, like failing to maintain or repair equipment. 

If you can prove that the car wash business was negligent and it led to vehicle damage, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced property damage attorney can help you determine whether negligence was a factor in your car’s damage. 

If you’re concerned about car washes damaging your car, and you want to be proactive, take pictures of your car before and after the wash. This is one of the best ways to show that damage occurred as a result of the car wash. Because these photos will include timestamps, it’ll be more difficult for the owner or employee to suggest the damage was caused by something else. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that pictures don’t make for an iron-clad case. Pictures may help in proving negligence, but it will take more than that to establish fault on the part of the car wash owner or employees. 

What if a Car Wash Employee Damaged My Car?

Many car washes offer additional services to customer vehicles, like interior cleaning or detailing, performed by car wash employees. The car wash owner is responsible for hiring and training employees to perform these tasks while maintaining the standard of care expected by the organization.

If an employee behaves negligently and causes damage to your car (such as scratches to the leather interior from using improper cleaning supplies), the car wash owner may be responsible for the employee’s negligence.

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Ensure the Best Coverage at the Best Price

If you’ve taken your car to the car wash, and it was damaged in the process, you may be wondering, will my car insurance cover car wash damage? The answer can be tricky, since it depends on the specifics of your policy, whether or not you signed a waiver, and whether the car wash owner or employees behaved negligently. 

However, if you have an auto insurance plan that covers this particular situation, then you may be entitled to compensation for repairs. 

Looking for comprehensive coverage? We’ve got you covered. You can easily compare plans and find the best insurance coverage for your needs and budget. Just type in your zip code to see quotes from top insurance companies and get the process started.

Sources: 

Cornell Law School. Negligence. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/negligence 

Hensley Legal Group. Who is LIable if My Car is Damaged at the Car Wash? https://hensleylegal.com/car-damaged-car-wash/ 

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