The longer you own your car, the more likely it will develop scratches. But when someone intentionally keys your car, that’s vandalism. Not only is cosmetic damage frustrating, it can be expensive to fix. However, if you have the right car insurance coverage in place, you may be able to file a claim for a keyed car and have the carrier pay for most, or all, of the damage. Understanding your policy options and the coverage to have in place to cover the damage on a keyed car can help you decide whether or not to file a claim for a keyed car.

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Will insurance cover a keyed car?

Your insurance will cover a keyed car, with the right coverage in place. If you have comprehensive coverage on your auto policy that provides coverage against theft, vandalism and weather-related damage, then you can file a claim if your vehicle is keyed. If you have full coverage, then you likely have comprehensive insurance on your policy. This means that if you only have liability insurance, your keyed car will not be covered through your auto insurer.

Even though it may seem minor, keyed vehicles are often costly to repair. In many cases, the cost may be $1,000 or more. You might be able to find the perpetrator to cover the damage, but if that is unlikely, working with your auto insurer may be the route to go to repair your vehicle. However, depending on the comprehensive deductible you selected when setting up your auto policy, you may not be able to file a claim if your deductible is higher than the repair costs to fix your vehicle.

Will making a claim on my keyed car affect my premium?

An important consideration before filing a claim is how it may affect your premiums. It is not surprising if your cost of car insurance increases after you file a claim, regardless of how minor the issue. When you file a claim for your keyed car, the cost of your premiums may increase upon your policy’s renewal, though it probably will not be as high as after an at-fault accident.

Your annual rates are most likely to rise if you file more than one claim within a short time. If you have one claim on record in the last two years and file another one, your premiums have the highest chance of being affected. Insurance companies make up for the cost paid in claims with an increased premium, even if the expenses were for minor cosmetic damage that you are not at fault for. Therefore, if you are trying to save money by getting your auto insurer to pay for the repair expenses of your keyed car, remember that you may end up paying a higher premium for the next few years to offset the insurance company’s out-of-pocket costs for the claim.

What do I do if someone keys my car?

The process of filing a claim in case of a keyed car is much the same as any other damage. Some of the steps to take include:

  • Document the incident by time and place, and take photos and videos
  • File a police report
  • Inform your insurance company if you have comprehensive coverage
  • Send your vehicle to a repair shop for inspection

If you decide to file a claim, your auto insurer will either reimburse you after you have paid the mechanic, or the insurer might pay its portion of the claim to the mechanic directly. Regardless, the payment from your insurer will be minus your comprehensive deductible. For example, you would have to pay the difference between the amount owed to the repair shop and what was paid by your auto insurer out of pocket to cover your deductible. With a $500 comprehensive deductible and a $1,500 damage claim, you would pay the $500 deductible to the repair shop and the insurer would pay the remaining $1,000.

Frequently asked questions

    • If you find that your car has been keyed and you have comprehensive coverage on your policy, you might want to consider filing a claim. If you have a high deductible, it may make sense to get a quote to fix the damage first. Then, you can determine if it is worth filing a keyed car claim with the insurance company. If the damage is less than your deductible, it’s likely not worth filing a claim. And if you don’t have comprehensive coverage, there is no reason to file a claim.
    • The cost of repairing a scratch on a keyed car depends on how far and deep the damage has penetrated. If it has only scratched the top coat, the expenses will be the lowest, as opposed to the scratch damaging the color coat and the base coat and reaching the bare metal. If the color of your vehicle is uncommon and not easily available or if the scratch has extended to more than one panel, expect the cost to be higher. It will also cost more if there is damage to several body panels and not just one panel. Getting a repair quote can help you determine how much it will cost to fix a keyed car.
    • Collision coverage does not pay for a keyed car. This coverage will pay for damage to the vehicle after colliding with another car or stationary object, such as something laying in the road, a building, a fence or a sign. Comprehensive coverage is what usually pays for a keyed vehicle as it is considered vandalism.
    • The best car insurance companies are ones that offer the coverage you need at a price that fits your budget. After extensive research, Bankrate has found that USAA, Geico, State Farm and Travelers are among the best car insurance companies. However, your auto insurance needs are unique, as is your driving profile and personal characteristics, so you may find another company that better suits your needs. Getting quotes from several companies can help you get the best price on the coverage types and limits for you.