Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: May 2, 2022

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Car Scratch Repair Summary
Car Scratch Repair FactsFrom the Experts...
A scratch on your vehicle can cost up to $3,500 to repairScratch Wizard, Angie's List
Depending on your deductible (which could range anywhere between $250 and $2,500), it may or may not be worth filing a claim for the cost to repair the scratchNAIC, III
Scratches will typically be covered by Comprehensive insurance, which costs an average of an additional $222.86/year on your policyNAIC

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You’ve been grocery shopping, and you come outside, walk to your car, and start loading your purchases. You look at the side of your vehicle and see a huge, ugly scratch. There’s no note, and nothing to indicate what happened, but you know the scratch wasn’t there when you parked the car.

What do you do? You know you need to get it repaired, but is that something you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket? Is there car scratched in the parking lot insurance coverage? Parking lots are typically considered private property, so do auto insurance companies cover accidents on private property? Read through this article to find out more about scratch and dent car insurance coverage.

To make sure you have the insurance coverage you need in case your vehicle is scratched in a parking lot, take a moment to use your ZIP code and get a free quote on car insurance.

Scratches on a Car and Car Insurance Coverage

Your car was scratched at a parking lot. What’s next? What about if you scratched someone’s car by accident? Or if you’re not sure if you scratched a car, but you think you might have? Read through the next few sections to learn more about the best car scratch and dent insurance.

Are scratches covered by car insurance?

Car insurance coverage may cover scratches on your car, but it will depend on the type of coverage you have. If you only have the minimum liability coverage required by your state, damages to your vehicle won’t be covered.

However, depending on how the scratch occurred on your vehicle, it may be covered by collision or comprehensive insurance (the combination of the two, along with liability, is referred to as full coverage).

So how does collision car insurance work? Take a look at this video to learn the basics.

Since collision coverage includes damages related to accidents and collisions, if your vehicle was scratched by another vehicle, your collision coverage will typically apply.

However, if your vehicle was scratched by something other than a car accident, comprehensive coverage may apply. What is comprehensive car insurance? It provides financial protection for damages that occur in other-than-collision scenarios. Take a look at this video to learn more.

To make sure you’re covered regardless of how your vehicle is damaged, it’s a good idea to purchase a full coverage policy that includes both comprehensive and collision coverage. Take a look at this table to see national average rates from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) for each of these coverage types.

Average Annual Rates for Collision, Comprehensive, and Full Coverage Car Insurance
StatesAverage Annual Comprehensive Car Insurance RatesAverage Annual Collision Car Insurance RatesAverage Annual Full Coverage Car Insurance Rates
South Dakota$116.53$282.96$1,257.13
North Dakota$121.61$269.84$788.56
New Hampshire$131.35$381.86$1,382.79
New York$136.08$293.59$789.09
New Mexico$171.12$385.02$1,360.66
New Jersey$172.57$276.98$937.59
Rhode Island$180.94$265.07$973.10
West Virginia$204.28$329.67$1,025.78
North Carolina$231.04$244.09$773.30
District of Columbia$233.24$468.67$1,330.73
South Carolina$258.11$208.58$766.91
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So the short answer is yes, there is new car scratch and dent insurance, particularly if you have full coverage. However, it may or may not be worth using your car insurance coverage to pay for the repairs. We’ll get into this in more detail in a later section, so keep reading.

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What should I do if my car is scratched in a parking lot?

If you’ve ever been in the situation where you say, “Someone scratched my car and drove off,” you have some options, which vary depending on whether or not the individual left a note on your vehicle and whether or not they are uninsured (which according to the Insurance Information Institute is about 13 percent of drivers).

Either way, you should contact your insurance agent and let them know what happened. Then, you should take photos immediately, so you have a record of the damage, speak to any witness who may have seen what happened, and find out if there is any security footage available from the parking lot that might have recorded the incident.

If the driver left a note, your next step is to contact them to exchange insurance and discuss how to handle repairing the damage you want to make sure they have car scratch and dent repair insurance. If they did not leave a note, you’ll need to work with your insurance to file a claim (if you choose to do that rather than paying for the damages out-of-pocket).

Also, some drivers may have a separate car care plan scratch and dent insurance policy basically a low-cost policy that only covers cosmetic repairs.

Is it worth filing an insurance claim for a scratch on my car?

It depends on the situation. The first thing to consider is the estimated cost of repairs versus your insurance deductible. If the repair quotes are lower than, equal to, or only slightly higher than your deductible, it may make more sense to pay the repair out-of-pocket rather than filing a claim.

The other consideration is whether or not filing a claim will affect your insurance rates. In general, scratches on your vehicle caused by someone else are not considered chargeable, so they shouldn’t affect your rates.

However, if the damage is your fault, it may be considered chargeable, in which case it will probably affect your rates. If the cost to repair the damages is low, and filing a claim would increase your rates, you may want to consider paying out-of-pocket.

What to Do if You Scratch A Parked Car

If you scratch or hit a parked car, there are a few steps you need to take. The first is to make an attempt to find the owner. If you’re not able to do so, you’ll need to either wait for them to come back to their vehicle or write a note with your name, contact information and a short explanation.

Depending on the severity of the damage, you may need to report the accident to the police (though if it’s just a minor scratch, it may not be worth a police report). However, in some cases, like Florida, this is required for any incident with damages that exceed $500. You’ll also need to call your insurance company and let them know what happened.

How do insurance companies handle parking lot accidents?

At a high level, insurance companies handle accidents that occur in parking lots in the same way that they handle accidents that occur anywhere else in that you don’t need to purchase specific car insurance coverage for accidents in parking lots; your existing coverage applies to all accidents, regardless of location.

However, parking lots are typically considered private property, which can affect how a claim is handled. Why? The private property comes with additional complications like third party claims (if property besides your vehicle was damaged, for example) and extra investigation requirements.

For example, if someone hit my parked car and left a note (or didn’t) in a parking lot, one factor that can affect the claims process is whether or not a police report was filed.

Not all private property car accidents result in a police report. While not having a police report won’t disqualify you from filing a claim, it may slow down the claims process, because, without a police report, the insurance company will have to conduct a more extensive investigation into what happened.

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Bottom Line for Car Insurance Coverage on a Car Scratched in the Parking Lot

So is a car scratched at a parking lot the end of the world? Not necessarily. Car scratched in parking lot insurance does exist in the form of full coverage.

If you have full coverage, scratches to your vehicle that occur in a parking lot are most likely covered. However, depending on your deductible and the estimated cost of repairs, it may be better to pay the cost of the repairs out-of-pocket, rather than filing a claim for the damages.

Frequently Asked Questions: Car Insurance Coverage for a Car Scratched in the Parking Lot

Still, have questions about car insurance coverage for a vehicle that is scratched in a parking lot? Read through these frequently asked questions to learn more.

What is parked car insurance?

Parked car insurance is not an official coverage type you can purchase. However, it is fundamentally comprehensive coverage (though depending on the damage type and how it occurred, your collision coverage might apply as well). Comprehensive insurance covers damages like vandalism, theft, weather damage, etc., while collision covers costs related to your vehicle being hit by another vehicle or object.

Can you go to jail for scratching a car?

It depends on how the scratch occurred. If you scratched someone’s car and left or you hit a car in a parking lot and left without waiting to speak with the owner, and you didn’t leave a note, it can be considered a hit and run misdemeanor. For example, in California (like in most states), you must find the owner of the vehicle and let them know what happened.

If you intentionally scratch a car (ex. keying it), you may be convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony and could potentially go to jail.

Will my insurance go up if I scratch a car?

If you are at fault for scratching or damaging someone else’s car with your vehicle, your rates may increase, as that can be considered an accident. Typically, any vehicle-to-vehicle contact that results in visible damage is legally considered an accident.

In this table, which is populated with data from Quadrant Information Services, we compare average national rates for a clean driving record to average national rates with one accident so you can see what might happen to your rates in the event of an accident in which you are at fault.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Driver History
CompanoesAverage Annual Insurance Rates with a Clean Driving RecordAverage Annual Insurance Rates with One Accident
American Family$2,693.61$3,722.75
State Farm$2,821.18$3,396.01
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$6,204.78
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Across the major insurers listed in the table, the average rate increase for a single accident is 32 percent.

Should I file an insurance claim for bumper damage?

It depends. You should get quotes on the cost of repairs and compare the estimated cost to your deductible. If the cost of repairs is lower than your deductible, it’s not worth filing a claim.

Before you go, make sure to use your ZIP code for a free quote on car insurance, so you’re prepared if your vehicle is scratched the next time it’s in a parking lot.

Dent Car Insurance Coverage

If your car acquires dents due to a shopping cart hitting it or backing into a pole, you may be able to claim the damage on your car insurance. However, you need to carefully consider the pros and cons of making such a claim.

One of the biggest cons of filing a car insurance claim over dents is that the damage may be less than your deductible. If you need a car insurance policy with a lower deductible, you can use a comparison tool to shop for better policies quickly.

Start comparison shopping today by using our FREE online quote tool! Enter your ZIP code above to compare auto insurance rates!

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Accidental Dents

As you drive your car and park it in parking lots, out on the street and under trees, it’s bound to acquire a few dings, dents, and scratches, but when should you report them to your insurance company and potentially file a claim?

If the damage is less than your deductible and only involved you, you may not want to file a claim.

Small dents and scratches can often be repaired for less money than the deductible listed in the collision portion of your insurance policy. Fixing it yourself may apply if you dented your car on your mailbox or while backing into or out of your garage.

If you have full coverage insurance, certain other types of damage may be covered under the comprehension section of your insurance policy, such as:

  • A tree branch falling on your car
  • Hail damage
  • Getting hit by a shopping cart

Comprehensive insurance may or may not have a deductible, meaning that your car insurance company may pay for the entire repair.

Report or File a Claim for a Dent

After you notice the damage to your car, you should call your agent and report the damage.

When you report an accident or incident, you are letting your car insurance company know that there is damage to your car, and you might file a claim in the future.

When you file your report, you can also file a claim, which essentially means that you want to see if your auto insurance company will pay part or all of the repair bills.

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In both instances, your insurer may send a claims adjuster to view the damage on your car and make a report. If you simply filed a report, this information goes into an electronic file where it will be seen if you decide to file a claim.

If you decided to file a claim, the information would immediately be used another with other acquired information about the accident to determine if the insurance company will pay for any of the damage and how much they will pay for the damage.

Dents and Car Insurance Claims

Whether your insurance company pays for the dents on your car primarily depends on your insurance policy. If you only have liability coverage, the dents may not be covered.

Liability coverage is designed to protect you from being sued if you cause an accident that results in property damage or injuries to another person.

If you have collision and comprehensive in addition to liability, the dings and dents on your car may be repaired by your insurance company. It depends on the extent of the damage and your deductible.

For example, let’s say the dents on your car will be $600 to repair, and you have a $500 deductible. Your insurance company would pay for $100 of the repairs, and you would pay $500.

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Finding a Better Car Insurance Policy for Dings and Dents

If you don’t have an insurance policy that includes comprehensive and collision or you have a policy with a high deductible, you can use a comparison tool to find a policy with a lower deductible and/or more car insurance coverage than your current policy specifies.

Before making any final decisions on your insurance company, it is important to learn as much as you can about your local insurance providers, and the coverages they offer. Call your local insurance agent to clear up any questions that you might have. Questions to consider asking include, “What is the best coverage plan for me/my family/my situation?” “What are the minimum coverage requirements in my state and what form of coverage do you recommend?” “Do you guys offer any bundle discounts if I take out both my auto insurance and home insurance with you?” and “What is the average rate of insurance quotes you guys offer?”

Before making any big insurance decisions, use our free tool to compare insurance quotes near you. It’s simple, just plug in your zip code and we’ll do the rest! Enter your ZIP code below to get started!