Does Car Insurance Cover Scratches, Dents and Cosmetic Damage?

Is minor damage to your car worth fixing and is it covered by car insurance?

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Does auto insurance cover minor damage?

The short answer: it’s almost always not worth it to sweat the small stuff — unless someone else is liable, the damage is significant enough to affect the functionality of your car, or the amount of damage eclipses your deductible. Driving around town in a dented, scratched, or dinged vehicle may not be glamorous, but to avoid higher auto insurance rates, it pays to be smart about claims.

Let’s explore incidents that may make your car look a little beaten up, and how insurance would work to cover the damage — in the event insurance does cover it — and how to decide whether to file a claim. 

Will my car insurance cover the damage if...

1. My car was damaged by bugs, birds, or pests
2. My car was hit by flying or road debris
3. My car has minor damage like a scratch or dent
4. My car got keyed

Does car insurance cover damage by bugs, birds, or pests?

It’s frustrating when environmental factors like bugs, birds, or other pests cause unexpected damage to your car. This damage may not affect the functionality of your vehicle, so insurance companies don't see it as their responsibility to help you fix the damage. Cosmetic issues are generally not worth trying to file a claim for and are best paid out-of-pocket. Even if you got an estimate and tried to file a claim, it would likely be denied. Learn more about when to file an auto insurance claim

If a pest messes with the mechanics of your car — for instance, a rat chewing through wires — this may be covered as part of your comprehensive coverage. You'd need to check the details of your specific policy to see whether pests are a covered peril. Costs would need to exceed your deductible before insurance kicks in to cover the rest.

Does auto insurance cover damage from road debris?

Luck isn't always on your side — and while you may be doing your best to drive safely, a loose object on the highway or debris from an unsecured truck bed can unexpectedly strike your car. Depending on the size and speed of the object coming towards you, a run-in with road debris can be dangerous. While it’s illegal and unsafe to drive with a load that’s not completely secured, accidents and malfeasance do happen. If your life was endangered because of debris or objects on the road, you should let the police know.

If a small rock cracks your windshield, your comprehensive coverage would cover — as long as you have glass coverage. You’d need to check with your insurance company and your policy to confirm coverage. Some insurers reserve lower deductibles for auto glass replacement and others may offer policy endorsements to waive or lower the deductible for glass damage.

If you collide with anything on the road — debris, fixed objects, or another vehicle — it would be covered under the collision coverage portion of your car insurance. If debris flies toward your car and causes damage, in the eyes of the insurance company, the incident was unavoidable — and would be covered under comprehensive coverage.

It’s up to you to decide whether filing a claim is worthwhile. If the damage does not exceed your deductible by much, there were no injuries, and the car isn’t deemed a total loss, it’s usually not worth the increase in your premium that would come as a result of filing a claim.

Does car insurance cover minor damage like scratches or dents?

If your vehicle sustained minor damage, resulting in a visible scratch or dent, auto insurance will cover it under collision coverage — but should you file a claim? If it’s a small amount of damage that you caused, it’s simply not worth filing a claim for and facing a hike in your premium, especially if your car is older or a less expensive model. If you do decide to get it fixed, you would save more money in the long run by paying for the damage out-of-pocket. If you file a claim, your insurance company would consider this an at-fault collision, resulting in pricier premiums down the line.

If another motorist causes minor damage to your car — via a rear-end collision, door ding, or fender bender — take into account whether the cost of repairing the damage would exceed your deductible, or if simply settling for repayment via cash would be the way to go.

Does auto insurance cover your car being keyed?

Keying a car is considered an act of vandalism, which would be covered under a policy's comprehensive coverage. Depending on a number of factors, like the value of your car and the severity of the damage, it might be worth filing a claim after a keying incident. Comprehensive claims don’t raise your premiums as much as do collision claims — on average, a comprehensive claim in 2018 raised insurance rates by 4.35%, or $32, over the course of a six-month policy.

If your new $20,000 car got keyed, the damage is estimated to cost $2,500 to fix, and you have a $500 deductible, filing a claim would be worth it. If your car is worth $5,000 and sustains the same $2,500 in damage, but you have a $1,000 deductible, it's not worth shelling out $1,000 to meet your deductible for a car that’s not worth very much — but again, whether or not you decide to file a claim is completely up to you.  Remember to shop around every 6 months to make sure you have the best value insurance, with or without a claim.

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RECENT QUESTIONS

What do I do if I scratched a person's car, agreed to pay out of pocket, but can't agree on the cost of the repair?

Unfortunately agreeing to pay for damage out of pocket without involving your insurance company can lead to issues like this. He does not have to agree with your offer and can attempt to get you to pay more than the actual cost of the repair.
Oct 10, 2017 Atlanta, GA

Does car insurance cover love bug damage?

Insurance will not cover cosmetic damage to your vehicle — even with full coverage, insurance is meant to cover sudden and accidental damage. See our guide to learn the differences between collision and comprehensive coverage and what they cover.
Aug 13, 2019 Tallahassee, FL

If I scratched a rental car, can I pay for the paint repair out of pocket?

It's possible that going through the rental company for the repair will help you avoid a rate increase, but there is no guarantee that they won't notify your insurance provider. I would recommend looking into paying for the repairs yourself, but if the damage is extensive enough where you can't afford the cost then you'll have to file a claim.
May 20, 2017 Bethesda, MD

Do I need the not-at-fault driver's insurance information?

The next step will be to contact your insurance company. They will handle the claim for you.
Sep 14, 2018 Hudson, FL

Kristine Lee photo
Kristine LeeManager, Content and Data

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer.

She is an authority on all things insurance and covers the ins and outs of auto, home, life and renters insurance. Her specialty is in providing data-backed insights and information to help insurance shoppers make informed decisions.

Kristine's insurance expertise and research have been cited by publications such as CNBC, Car and Driver, Business Insider, Yahoo!, The Balance, Nationwide and Elephant.

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.

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  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.