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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Car insurance companies decide what damage will be covered based on the cause of the damage. Whenever you file an insurance claim, the company will ask you for details regarding when and how the accident occurred. If you do not know what caused the damage, an insurance adjuster will inspect the damage to the vehicle and determine the most likely cause. In the case of a scratched door, there are three types of coverage that may apply, depending on what caused the damage:
Collision Coverage and a Scratched Door
If your vehicle was damaged as a result of impact with another vehicle, fixed property, pedestrian or bicyclist, your accident will be covered under collision. Collision coverage applies whether or not your vehicle was in use at the time; if someone hits your car while it’s parked, collision coverage will apply. If a child rides his bicycle close to your vehicle and scrapes the car’s paint with his handlebars, the damage will be paid under collision. This also covers damage caused by a car door opening into your vehicle and scratching your paint. A collision accident can either be at-fault or not-at-fault. If you are not at fault for your accident, you can pursue the claim through the responsible party’s insurance. You may also file the claim with your company and receive a deductible reimbursement after the claim has been settled.
Comprehensive Coverage and a Scratched Door
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to a vehicle that was not caused by a collision. Some of the perils covered by comprehensive include theft, vandalism and weather-related damage. If someone maliciously keys your vehicle, that damage will be paid under comprehensive coverage. This coverage would also pay for damage caused by hail or wind. Falling and flying objects, such as road debris, are also covered under comprehensive. There is usually no fault assigned to comprehensive claims unless the damage was caused maliciously. This means that you will usually not be able to recover your deductible in a comprehensive claim, but the claim should also not count against your insurance or cause your rates to increase. Comprehensive deductibles are also often lower than collision deductibles.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) and a Scratched Door
Some states offer UMPD coverage. Depending on state laws, you may be able to use this coverage to repair damage caused to your vehicle in a hit-and-run accident. Some states require that a responsible driver be known and proven uninsured in order to use UMPD; others allow UMPD coverage for hit-and-run claims. A common type of hit-and-run is a parking lot accident where the other driver scrapes your vehicle and leaves without contacting you. You may discover the scratch on your door and not know exactly when or where the damage occurred. If you live in a state where hit-and-run accidents are covered under UMPD, you will usually pay a lower deductible for the repairs than if you had used collision coverage. You may also be eligible for a rental car even if you do not have rental reimbursement coverage on your regular insurance policy.
If you’re not sure what caused the damage to your vehicle, your insurance adjuster will be able to guess an approximate cause for the damage. He might look for paint transfer, dents or other evidence of a collision. Once he determines what may have caused the accident, the adjuster will write an estimate for your damage. This estimate will be based on the actual cost of parts plus an average labor cost. Once you take the vehicle into the body shop, your shop will write a more detailed estimate and can request a supplement if the initial estimate was not high enough.
A small scratch may not be worth repairing, especially if it costs less than your deductible. In this case, you can choose not to repair the vehicle or to pay for the repairs out of your pocket. Bear in mind, however, that any preexisting damage will be subtracted from any future estimates you receive for subsequent accidents. This means that if you have a scratch on your door and are involved in an another accident that causes further damage to the door, the repair cost of the scratch will be subtracted from the estimate for the second accident.