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 in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • Comprehensive coverage is designed to cover miscellaneous damage to your car, including random scratches
  • It may be more cost-effective in the long run for you to cover the expenses yourself
  • Be prepared to provide your agent with written receipts if you do file a claim

Auto insurance exists to help you cover damage to your car after an accident or another unforeseen event.

When a car needs repairs, the first thing you may do is reach for the top phone file a claim, but not all damage will be covered. Additionally, filing the claim may work against you if it results in higher rates.

That’s why it’s wise to take a little time and carefully assess the situation before you call your agent to start a claim.

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Comprehensive Coverage Required


Most states require liability insurance, but this isn’t the only type of plan you can invest in. There are different coverages available for your policy.

The different types of coverage are:

  • Liability coverage – Repair damages to someone else’s car or property in the event that you cause an accident
  • Collision coverage – Repair the damages to your own car if you cause an accident
  • Comprehensive coverage – Repair damages not related to an accident

If your car is scratched in an accident, then that would fall under collision coverage.

However, if the scratch appeared mysteriously in a parking lot, then you would need to have comprehensive coverage in order to get it repaired.

Comprehensive coverage will drive up the cost of your policy, but it’s worth it with newer cars. It also may be required if you have a leased car or still owe money on your traditional loan.

If you want the more thorough coverage, then see if you can save on the premiums by shopping around for better rates.

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Your GAP Insurance Won’t Work

If you’ve discovered scratches on your car in a parking lot, then you may believe you can have the damage covered through your GAP insurance.

This coverage would allow you to avoid filing a claim with your regular company, but it won’t work for scratches.

GAP insurance is specifically designed for cars that are totaled, and then it only covers the difference between what you owe and the value of the car.

GAP insurance will not cover any damages to a car, missed payments, or rental cars.

The Problem with Uninsured Drivers


All across the nation, drivers are required to have a minimal level of coverage.

However, uninsured motorists are still on the road, and that can wind up costing you money in an accident.

If an uninsured driver causes an accident and damages your car, your own insurance will not pay for the repairs unless you have the right protection.

With uninsured motorist coverage, damage to your car can still be taken care of even when the other driver is underinsured or completely uninsured.

It essentially takes the place of liability insurance that the other driver should be carrying.

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When Filing Still Won’t Pay

Even if you discover that your insurance will cover the scratch, you may still be better off covering the repairs out of your own pocket.

Insurance companies tend to look at the big picture when it comes to your rates, and you don’t want a small claim to result ultimately in higher premiums.

You may want to pay your own repairs if:

  • The total expense is just a little higher than your deductible
  • You’ve already filed several claims over the last few years
  • You have moving violations on your driving record

In these cases, the extra money you spend today can lead to substantial savings down the road if you avoid a rate increase.

If you need to file the claim and are worried about increasing rates, remember that you can always shop around for a more affordable insurance carrier later.

Additionally, it may be wise to start building your emergency fund so that you can cover smaller repairs if necessary.

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What to Expect If You File

You may find that the damage may be extensive enough that you really need to file a claim in order to have the repair properly done.

You have certain rights when it comes to insurance claims, including:

  • A timely decision along with a clear explanation
  • Clear information regarding how the claim will be paid
  • Prompt answers to questions
  • Timely payments

You also have some responsibilities when it comes to insurance claims. You’ll need to take steps to protect your car.

If you need to cover broken windows or other breaches in the exterior, you may want to consider finding a different place to garage it.

You can typically choose the repair shop that will perform the work, but you should be prepared to provide your insurance company with a written quote regarding the total repair expense.

If you want top coverage that will include things like scratches, then you should expect to pay a little more for the plan.

You can also keep your rates down by paying for these smaller repairs on your own and avoiding the claim completely. Enter your zip code below for FREE car insurance quotes today!