Does Car Insurance Cover Scratches and Dents?

White car that is scratched and dented
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Car insurance is a contract between you and an insurer to provide financial assistance in the case of an accident or theft. In South Africa, car insurance policies offer varying levels of protection against accidents, theft, and other circumstances.

In this article, we’ll look at the various types of car insurance policies available and whether they include scratch and dent repair. We will also discuss your options if your insurance does not have scratch and dent cover.

Factors That Affect Car Insurance Coverage for Scratches and Dents

There are several factors that could affect whether your insurer will cover the costs of repairing scratches and dents or not. The most important is the type of car insurance you have, and there are different types of insurance policies available with various benefits and premiums.

Another factor is the policy excess, which is the money you would have to pay out of pocket before the insurance would pay out. Policies with a low monthly premium typically do not cover the repair costs of a scratch or dent.

The age of your car and any pre-existing damage is also essential. An insurance company will not cover the repair of chips, dents, or scratches that were present before the insurance was purchased. Insurance companies will usually offer less coverage or require a higher excess payout to insure older cars.

Types of Car Insurance in South Africa

In South Africa, only 30% – 40% of vehicles on the road are insured.  There are many types of insurance policies available to car owners. However, there are three main types of car insurance policies, and each of these offers different levels of protection for your car and has varying premiums.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

Comprehensive car insurance is the most extensive type of policy that you can take to safeguard your vehicle and third parties. Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your own car due to hijacking, fire, or vandalism. It also protects your own vehicle as well as any third parties in the case of an accident.

Some insurers also include scratch and dent insurance as part of comprehensive insurance. However, this is not always a given. You should check your policy contract terms and conditions for scratch and dent insurance coverage specifications.

Comprehensive insurance also usually covers tar removal, hail damage repair and other add-ons to keep your car in tip-top shape.

Third-Party, Fire, and Theft Car Insurance

This type of policy offers coverage for damage done to other cars that you are legally liable for. It also provides cover in the cases of fire, lightning, or theft for your own vehicle. 

Typically, this type of insurance does not offer coverage for damage to your own car. However, it might cover minor dents and light scratches on the outside of the car. It’s best to ask your insurer about their dent policy before signing a contract.

Third-Party Only Car Insurance

This is the most affordable car insurance option available in South Africa. Third-party only car insurance covers damage to other cars you are legally liable for. These policies do not cover any damage to your own car or damages in the cases of theft/hijacking. 

Additionally, third-party only car insurance also does not cover dents and scratches.

How to Claim For Scratches and Dents

If your insurance policy covers damage from dents and scratches, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Take clear photos of the damage, and this will help the insurance provider to assess the damage and possible cover for your car.
  2. Gather supporting documentation. If you have evidence of someone denting or scratching your car, make a statement at your local police station. Alternatively, you can get a repair quote from a local garage.
  3. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and inform them of the damage to your car. The insurer will ask for photos and supporting documents (which you would have already gathered). The insurer will then consider all these factors and determine whether they will cover the repair costs.
  4. If your policy requires it, pay the excess immediately. This speeds up the rate at which your insurance cashes out your repair funds. After this is finalised, your insurance provider will approve your claim.
  5. Take your car to the garage for the necessary repairs. In some cases, an insurance company will prescribe a specific garage; in other cases, they will allow you to choose your own.
  6. After the car is repaired, follow up with your insurance provider to double-check that everything is in order.
Take photo of dent on car

It’s important to remember that every policy and situation is unique. Even if you have comprehensive car insurance, the insurer can still disapprove your claim for various reasons. When it comes to claims, it’s always best to have as much information and supporting documentation as possible.

What To Do If Your Insurance Does Not Cover Scratch and Dent Damage

If your car insurance does not cover scratch and dent damage, you should discuss your options with your insurer. Ask about available add-ons to your policy and how you can make sure your car is covered for these damages.

If your car already has scratches or dents and your insurance company does not cover it, you must pay for the repairs out of your own pocket.  Alternatively, you can put a small amount of money away every month. This can be your “car” savings, which can be used to repair dents, buy new rims and keep your car in the best shape possible.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up, your car insurance may or may not cover scratches and dents, and this depends on the type of policy you have and the specific terms and conditions outlined in your policy. If you need clarification on what you’re covered for, have a discussion with your insurance provider and get the facts straight.

Taking good care of your car and avoiding potentially damaging situations can significantly reduce the risk of scratches and dents.

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