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 you discover damage on your vehicle from an unknown impact, it will probably be considered collision damage
  • Regardless of fault, most states will require you to pay your collision deductible whenever your vehicle has been hit
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by a person without insurance

Car insurance coverage can generally be divided into two types: liability and first-party.

Liability coverage pays for damage caused to another person’s property. First-party coverage pays for loss on an insured vehicle.

There are three types of first-party coverage that an auto policy can include: collision, comprehensive, and uninsured motorist.

Depending on the cause of damage to a vehicle, the applicable coverage will be applied to the loss.

If you have recently discovered damage to your vehicle, it’s a good idea to determine the cause of the accident first so that you know what coverage will apply and what deductible you will owe.

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Comprehensive Damage

Comprehensive coverage covers damage not caused by the collision of a vehicle with another car or property.

Weather-related damage like hail and flood are covered by comprehensive coverage, as is vandalism and damage caused by falling or flying objects.

Damage from an animal is also considered a comprehensive claim, even if the vehicle collides with that animal.

If you discover a dent in your door that appears to have been caused by vandalism, the damage will be paid under comprehensive coverage.

Comprehensive coverage often, but not always, has a lower deductible than collision coverage.

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Collision Damage

Whenever a vehicle makes an impact with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a fixed object, the damage will be paid under collision coverage.

Regardless of fault, most states will require you to pay your collision deductible whenever your vehicle has been hit.

If you’re found to be not at fault for the damage to your car, you may be able to recover the deductible from the person who hit the vehicle.

If the car was damaged in a hit-and-run accident, you might not be able to recover your deductible unless your state has uninsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Damage

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by a person without insurance.

Laws regarding UMPD coverage vary from one state to the next. In some instances, coverage will pay for hit-and-run damage; other states require the at-fault party to be known and proven uninsured.

Most UMPD deductibles are lower than the collision deductible, so if you discover damage to your vehicle and carry this coverage, you may pay less than if you only had a collision.

Liability Insurance

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Many people choose to save money on their car insurance by paying only for liability insurance.

If you only have primary liability on your policy, the insurance company cannot pay for the damage to your car, regardless of its cause.

Of course, insurance laws vary from one state to the next, so it’s always best to check with your agent or claims department to verify exactly what coverage will apply to your vehicle and what deductible you will be expected to pay.

When you file a claim, an adjuster will complete a free inspection on your vehicle and provide you with an estimate.

At the time of the inspection, the adjuster will be able to determine the proximate cause of your damage and pay accordingly.

Generally, if you have full coverage on your vehicle and discover damage on the car, you should be able to have that dent repaired.

The exact coverage applied to the claim will vary depending on the cause of the damage, however, and your deductible may differ from one situation to the next because of it.

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