Will My Insurance Cover Car Wash Damage?

Taking your car through an automated car wash can be a quick and convenient way to get it sparkling clean. But those spinning brushes, high-pressure sprayers, and tight spaces also present ample opportunities for damage to occur. If your vehicle gets scratched, dented, or otherwise harmed at a car wash, will your insurance cover the repairs?

The short answer is—it depends. There are several factors that determine if car wash mishaps fall under your auto insurance policy or if the car wash owner’s insurance should pay instead.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover:

  • Common causes of car wash damage
  • When your insurance will cover repairs
  • When the car wash owner is liable
  • Steps to take if your car is damaged
  • Preventing car wash damage
  • And more

By understanding how car wash damage claims work, you can make sure you’re prepared if anything happens to your vehicle during a wash.

Common Causes of Car Wash Damage

Although car washes are designed to safely clean your car, malfunctions and mistakes can still happen. Some common ways vehicles get damaged include:

  • Brush mishaps – Brushes can scratch paint if debris gets stuck or if they malfunction.

  • Equipment failures – Stuff like soap dispensers, blowers, and rails can break and strike vehicles.

  • Employee error – Workers may improperly prep your car, like not folding mirrors in.

  • Tight squeezes – Scraping antennas, mirrors, or sides against tunnels or brushes.

  • Driver mistakes – Hitting wash equipment, curbs, or other cars.

  • Chemicals – Harsh soaps can dull paint or strip wax over time.

When Your Insurance Will Cover Repairs

If you accidentally damage your own car at a car wash, your auto insurer will typically cover the repairs if you have the right coverage.

  • Collision insurance pays for damage you cause to your own car in an accident.

  • Comprehensive covers non-crash damage like vandalism, theft, or debris falling on your car.

  • Liability covers injury or property damage you cause to others – like if you hit another car at the wash.

You’ll pay your deductible and your rates may increase at renewal time after a paid claim.

When the Car Wash Owner is Liable

If the car wash is responsible for damaging your car, their commercial insurance should pay for repairs. For example:

  • Equipment malfunctions and hits your car.

  • Items fall on your car due to negligence.

  • Workers improperly operate equipment or prep your car leading to damage.

  • Chemicals/brushes scratch your paint over time due to improper maintenance.

In these cases, contact the car wash owner/manager and file a claim with their insurer. This spares you from paying a deductible or risking rate hikes.

Steps to Take if Your Car is Damaged

If you notice any new dents, scratches, or other damage after a car wash, take these steps:

  • Take date-stamped photos documenting all damage.

  • Note any damage to car wash property as well.

  • Alert the manager and ask for their insurance information.

  • File a claim with your insurer or the car wash’s insurer.

  • Provide evidence like photos to substantiate your claim.

  • Get multiple repair estimates if filing with your own insurer.

Preventing Car Wash Damage

While you can’t avoid all mishaps, these tips can minimize car wash risks:

  • Inspect vehicle before and after the wash to spot any new damage.

  • Fold in side mirrors and remove loose items beforehand.

  • Choose a reputable car wash with modern equipment.

  • Stay in neutral and follow all instructions provided.

  • Avoid repetitive or frequent automated washes that can deteriorate paint over time.

  • Wash by hand at home using a gentle cleaner for best results.

Does Car Insurance Cover Car Wash Damage?


Who is responsible in case of a collision at a car wash automatic conveyor problems?

Equipment malfunctions that cause vehicle damage at automated carwashes are clearly the responsibility of the carwash owner, mechanic, service company or the equipment manufacturer. If you run a full-service carwash, you may have employees who move customer vehicles.

Does automatic car wash damage cars?

While some car washes may be safe bets, others might not be worth the risk. An automatic car wash can damage your paint if you don’t take care of your car afterward. If you don’t dry it off thoroughly after washing, the water can create scratches in the paint that will show up later.

Can I go through a carwash with a broken bumper?

Finally, they suggest those cars with rust stay at home. And any vehicles already damaged – like a loose bumper or anything tied down with duct tape. It makes perfect sense! They don’t want to cause any further damage to any cars.

What type of insurance covers damage to your own car?

Collision covers damage to your car from an accident with another car or a physical object. Comprehensive covers damage to your car from events other than a collision, such as theft, fire, or vandalism.

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