Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Sep 23, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Basic car insurance policies include third-party liability coverage and any other coverage that’s required by the state
  • If you choose the bare minimum coverage required by the state, your policy won’t provide any coverage for damage to your vehicle
  • To protect yourself from being on the line for paying for damage caused by a vandal, you’ll need to purchase comprehensive physical damage coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage will pay for damage claims to your vehicle caused by fire, theft, vandalism, explosion, weather, wind, falling objects and encounters with live animals
  • If your vehicle is keyed at home or in a public place, comprehensive will pay to either repair the damage or repaint the vehicle entirely
  • Your comprehensive claim will be subject to the deductible that you carry on the policy

Walking out to your car to discover that it’s been keyed can really ruin your day. Your beautiful paint job is ruined and you’re left wondering who would go to these measures just to degrade property that you own. Fortunately, auto insurance policies include optional forms of coverage that will pay to repair your vehicle in various situations. If you carry the right type of coverage, you’ll have peace of mind in knowing you’ll only have to pay your deductible to have the deep scratches buffed out and repainted. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Consumers who aren’t really familiar with auto insurance coverage options or provisions might assume they have coverage for every type of loss, but making the wrong assumptions could land you in hot water. You’ll need to build a comprehensive insurance portfolio and also a comprehensive auto insurance policy to feel fully protected. Here’s everything you need to know so that an act of vandalism doesn’t land you into financial turmoil.

What is state minimum auto insurance?

Every state has its own financial responsibility law or mandatory insurance law. These laws will either explicitly or indirectly require that vehicle owners purchase auto insurance to pay for damages that they cause while operating their vehicle. Even though the required coverage varies from state line to state line, it’s never mandatory to carry damage coverage. Instead, you’re expected to carry third-party coverage. Here’s a breakdown of common state-mandated requirements:

  • Bodily Injury Liability: Pays for third-party injury
  • Property Damage Liability: Pays for third-party property damage
  • Medical Payments: Required in some states
  • Uninsured Motorist: Required in some states to cover your medical bills
  • Personal Injury Protection: Only required in states with a no-fault law

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How can you protect your vehicle?

You aren’t required by law to protect your vehicle but you may be required to purchase coverage by your bank. If your car is financed or leased, you’re under contract.

This agreement says you must buy full coverage to protect the collateral on the loan.

It’s still an option to buy full physical damage coverage if your car is paid off and you’d like that added protection. Just be sure that you price the cost of full coverage and compare this cost to your vehicle’s market value before you add it to your policy.

Which type of physical damage coverage pays for key scratches?

There are two different types of physical damage cover and each type pays for a different type of loss. If you’re concerned with key scratches that are caused by a vandal or malicious person, you’ll need to add comprehensive coverage to the policy. Comprehensive, which is also referred to as ‘Other than Collision’, will pay for losses caused by the following:

  • Falling objects
  • Missiles
  • Theft
  • Larceny
  • Fire
  • Explosion
  • Earthquake
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Flood
  • Wind
  • Weather-related losses
  • Riot or civil disobedience
  • Glass breakage
  • Encounter with live animal

What happens if the scratch is caused by a collision?

It’s important that you understand that not all car scratch claims are handled the same. How a claim is handled depends on how the vehicle got scratched in the first place. For starters, scratches sustained when you collide with a vehicle or object will be filed against your collision coverage.

If you have comprehensive coverage without collision, your policy won’t pay.

If, however, you’re declared not at fault for the crash, the other party’s insurance will fix your car under Property Damage coverage.

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What does the policy cover when filing a car scratch claim?

If you’ve filed a legitimate key scratch claim, your insurance will pay to restore your vehicle back to its pre-loss condition. The only time your policy won’t pay for the entire cost of repairs is when the fair market value of your vehicle is less than the total estimate to buff out the scratches and repaint the car. If the scratches are too deep to buff out, the insurer might have to replace certain panels. For cars that don’t retain much value, deep scratches can actually lead to a total loss claim.

Do you have to pay for some of the repairs?

How much you’re expected to pay when filing a claim depends on the deductible you selected. There are two separate deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage. Luckily, it’s common for comprehensive deductibles to be lower that collision deductibles. You should check to see how much you’re currently expected to pay for non-collision losses to decide if it’s sensible to lower the amount for a higher premium.

How much does comprehensive coverage cost?

The cost for comprehensive coverage is based on the type of vehicle you drive and the area where you live.

The company will look at how much it costs to repair your car and how many vandalism claims are reported in the area before the actual premium is quoted.

Even though the costs range, statistics show that 78% of policyholders buy comprehensive because it’s one of the more affordable coverage options. The average cost of comprehensive is $138.82 per year nationwide.

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Tips on Deciding Whether or Not to Buy Comprehensive Coverage

It doesn’t always make sense to buy full coverage, but choosing to forgo the premiums could be a major mistake when you have a loss. Justifying the cost of comprehensive cover is much easier than justifying collision. Here are some tips:

  • Financed and leased cars always need full coverage
  • If the cost of comprehensive is less than 10% of the market value, buy the coverage
  • If you can’t pay to replace the vehicle on your own, buy coverage
  • Install anti-theft devices to drive down premium costs

Take a step back and think about what you really need to feel comfortable. If you’d like to buy physical damage coverage, use an online rating tool and compare premiums from carrier to carrier. Once you find the best insurance rates, you can decide upon which auto insurance company deserves your business the most. Begin comparing car insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!