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

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • If the damage is not caused by a covered peril, the claim can be closed, and you will not be penalized
  • If someone damages your property on purpose, you may even be able to recover your deductible
  • Depending on the type of coverage you carry on your policy, different perils can be covered by insurance

By law, everyone must carry car insurance. However, the specifics of coverage do change from one policy to the next and understanding exactly what is covered can be daunting.

Whether or not damage can be paid under an auto insurance policy is determined by the cause of the accident, and whether that cause correlates to a covered peril under the insurance.

For the most part, any damage caused by a covered accident will be paid under the corresponding coverage, regardless of the nature of the cost.

However, if the latch mechanism of your seatbelt fails merely or the belt breaks without being involved in an accident, you would not be able to claim that damage.

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Property Damage Liability

Cars with a liability-only policy are not eligible for repairs in the event of an accident.

Liability only covers damage to another person’s property if you are responsible for damaging it. If you wish to repair your vehicle, you must obtain what’s called first-party coverage.

Alternatively, if someone else is responsible for your vehicle, their insurance should pay for the damage under that person’s liability coverage.

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Collision Coverage

Generally, any time your vehicle collides with another vehicle, person or property, the damage is paid under collision.

In most states, collision coverage pays for your repairs regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

If you were not at fault, you might be able to recover your deductible from the person who hit your car.

A seatbelt might be damaged in a collision when weight is thrown against it, and in this case, it would be covered as part of the accident.

Comprehensive Coverage

Most damage not covered under collision would fall under comprehensive damage. This coverage pays for damage caused by animals, weather, vandalism and other acts of nature that are unavoidable.

Comprehensive coverage will have a lower deductible than collision.

A seatbelt might be damaged in a comprehensive claim if an animal got into the car and chewed through it, or if it were cut by vandals who damaged your upholstery.

However, more than likely, you will be responsible for paying your comprehensive deductible, but the incident should not count against you regarding a premium increase.

If you discover damage to your vehicle and are unsure what caused it, you can always file a claim and have the car inspected by an adjuster.

The inspection will be free, and the adjuster can determine the most likely cause of the damage. If it turns out to be payable under the coverage on your policy, you can collect payment toward your repairs.

If you have any questions about your policy, your best option is to contact your agent or claims service representative and ask them to discuss your coverage with you.

Your policy documentation should also have details about what is covered under any specific policy and if there are any exclusions in your area.

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