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