Does Car Insurance Cover Self-Inflicted Damage?

Getting into a fender bender or accidentally hitting an object can be upsetting and costly. You may be wondering if your car insurance will cover damage you cause to your own vehicle. The good news is that in most cases, self-inflicted damage is covered if you have the right insurance.

This article will explain when car insurance covers damage you cause to your own car and the exceptions. Tips are also provided for handling claims to avoid rate increases.

Collision and Comprehensive Insurance Cover Most Self-Inflicted Damage

The two main types of coverage that pay for self-inflicted auto damage are:

  • Collision insurance – Covers damage to your vehicle from collisions, regardless of fault. This includes hitting another car, object or animal, rolling your vehicle, or other accidents.

  • Comprehensive insurance – Covers non-collision damage from events like vandalism, weather, fire, theft and hitting an animal.

Having both collision and comprehensive insurance provides maximum protection. Damage from common mishaps like backing into a pole or cracking your windshield from a stray baseball would be covered.

Insurance companies expect occasional mistakes and pay these claims, even though you were the cause. Your rates typically won’t increase after your first claim.

When Self-Inflicted Damage May Not Be Covered

There are instances when car insurance won’t cover damage you cause to your own vehicle:

  • Intentional damage – Damage caused on purpose, such as setting your car on fire or taking a bat to the windshield, is not covered.

  • Illegal activity – Damage that happens while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or without a valid license may not be covered.

  • Outside policy limits – Accidents caused by serious negligence like unsafe tires or brake issues may exceed liability limits.

  • Lack of coverage – Having only liability insurance means damage to your own car isn’t covered.

It’s important to read your policy so you understand exclusions. Overall, insurers are quite lenient about unintentional mishaps.

Examples of Covered Self-Inflicted Damage

To understand exactly what’s covered, here are examples of common self-inflicted damage paid by car insurance:

  • Hitting a mailbox while backing out of your driveway – Claim would be filed under collision coverage.

  • Rolling your parked car into a neighbor’s fence – Collision claim for your car, liability claim for the fence.

  • Backing into a fire hydrant – Collision claim for the damage to your vehicle.

  • Baseball cracking your windshield – Comprehensive claim for the windshield replacement.

  • Hail storm dents on the hood – Comprehensive claim covers hail damage.

  • Hitting a deer – Collision pays for damage from impact.

The type of claim depends on how the damage occurred. But having collision and comprehensive insurance covers you in most cases.

Tips for Self-Inflicted Damage Claims

To make the claims process easy while avoiding increased rates, follow these tips:

  • Consider paying out-of-pocket for minimal damage close to your deductible amount. Rates may increase more than the claim payout.

  • File claims sparingly – Too many at-fault claims can lead to non-renewal or premium hikes. Space out claims if possible.

  • Increase deductibles – Choosing a higher deductible saves on premiums and makes small claims pointless.

  • Review your declaration page – Understand your coverage limits, deductibles and insurer duties before filing a claim.

  • Document the damage – Take photos and get estimates from mechanics to provide your insurance adjuster.

  • Ask about discounts – Defensive driving courses and accident forgiveness protections can offset rate increases.

Paying attention to driving and parking habits goes a long way to avoiding self-inflicted mishaps in the first place. But knowing your insurance has your back for occasional fender benders provides peace of mind.

Self-Inflicted Damage Claims and Your Auto Insurance Rates

One concern with filing claims for damage you cause is the impact on your car insurance rates. Premiums typically increase after at-fault accidents due to being labeled higher risk. But how much rates go up depends on several factors:

  • Your previous claims – Multiple past claims for any reason will amplify rate hikes.

  • Claim amounts – Larger claims for severe damage increase rates more than small fender benders.

  • Time between claims – Frequent claims within a short period are worse than spaced apart.

  • Insurer policies – Some forgive first accidents while others increase rates immediately.

  • Discounts applied – Accident forgiveness and safe driving discounts help offset hikes.

  • State regulations – Some states limit rate increases after claims.

While your auto insurer is required to clearly explain why your rate increased, you can ask them to run the numbers ahead of filing a claim. This allows you to make an informed decision on whether to claim or pay out-of-pocket.

When to Avoid an Insurance Claim for Minor Damage

One smart money-saving strategy is to pay for small cosmetic damage repairs yourself rather than filing a claim. Some scenarios when this makes sense include:

  • Damage within $100-$200 of your collision deductible

  • First self-inflicted accident with no previous claims

  • Repairs needed are under $500-$600

  • You have savings to pay the shop bill comfortably

Doing the math on potential premium increases compared to the claim payout helps determine whether filing is worthwhile. Your insurer can give you an estimate of how much rates would rise.

Paying out-of-pocket also keeps your driving record clean. The fewer claims on your history, the better for long-term savings.

Can You Claim Liability Coverage for Damage to Your Own Car?

Liability insurance only covers damage you cause to others – not yourself. The property damage liability portion pays if you harm or destroy someone else’s belongings in an accident you cause.

You cannot use liability insurance for damage to your own vehicle. Collision and comprehensive policies pay for harm to your own car.

Liability coverage is mandatory in nearly every state as it protects innocent accident victims. But collision and comprehensive are optional. Having all three provides complete protection.

Key Takeaways on Self-Inflicted Car Damage Claims

The most important points to remember are:

  • Collision and comprehensive insurance cover most unintentional damage you cause to your own car.

  • Intentional damage, illegal activity and lack of coverage lead to claim denials.

  • Consider paying out-of-pocket for minimal damage to avoid rate increases.

  • Ask your insurer for rate estimates before filing claims to make informed decisions.

  • Liability insurance only applies to damage caused to other people and their property.

Knowing what your car insurance does and does not cover for self-inflicted damage helps you make smart choices when accidents happen. Your provider can explain any aspects of your specific policy you’re unsure about. With the right protection, occasional fender benders won’t break the bank.

VIDEO: Does car insurance cover the self-inflicted damage to your car after a crash in the driveway?


Does car insurance cover intentional acts?

As per Tanner vs. Nationwide (Tex., 2009), the insurance coverage of any driver becomes void when they try to cause someone harm. In simple terms, this means that the insurance provider does not have to pay out a single dime if the driver in question intentionally causes the car crash.

Does insurance cover if you run into something?

If your car insurance policy includes collision coverage, then it should help pay for damage to your car if you hit a curb. Collision insurance coverage protects your vehicle against damage from hitting another object, regardless of who’s at fault in the accident.

Does comprehensive insurance cover accidental damage?

What type of cover is included in comprehensive insurance? Generally speaking you can expect most comprehensive car insurance policies to include: Accidental damage to your car or another’s car. Personal injury to you or injury to other people involved in an accident.

What should you do if you hit an object in your car?

Here’s what you’ll need to do: Provide the necessary information about the accident and vehicle damage to your insurer within the filing time limit. If you don’t know what your timeframe for filing is, call your insurer and ask. Get repair estimates from at least three auto body repair shops.

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