Keyed Car: Will Your Insurance Cover the Cost?

Article Summary:

If you have comprehensive car insurance, then chances are your insurance company will cover a keyed car. But if you only have collision coverage, you’re probably out of luck. However, even if your insurance covers a keyed car, it can sometimes make sense to pay for repairs out of pocket to avoid a claim’s negative impact on your insurance premium.

Maybe it’s happened to you or to someone you know, but many people have had the misfortune of walking back to their parked vehicle only to be faced with a horrible realization: “Someone keyed my car!” Sometimes it’s a small scratch similar to the damage that might be left by an errant shopping cart. Other times, however, it’s a clear form of premeditated vandalism.

When you discover your car has been keyed, your first instinct is probably to scream and curse the vandal. After that initial wave of outrage, you’ll want to figure out how you can recover the costs to fix the damage on your keyed car. By now, you’re probably wondering, “Can I call my car insurance company to fix it, and how do I handle this issue?”

Do car insurance companies cover a keyed car?

Whether or not your car insurance covers a keyed car depends on the type of coverage you have. Collision coverage will not cover any repairs if your car was only keyed, since that type of damage doesn’t count as an accident.

If you have comprehensive insurance, however, then it likely makes sense to call your insurance company about a scratched car. Comprehensive insurance will cover repair costs for damage from incidents like vandalism or other acts outside your control.

Pro Tip

Damage from car keying is fairly common, so it’s probably a good idea to invest in insurance that covers a keyed car claim. Ask your insurance agent for insurance coverage that can help alleviate any potential repair costs from having your car keyed.

How to file a claim for a keyed car

If you have comprehensive coverage, you’ll want to contact your insurance company about your keyed car right away. Fortunately, most top insurance companies have a procedure in place to ensure that your claim goes through as quickly and smoothly as possible.

How to file a claim for a keyed car

  1. First, do not drive your car away from the area where it was keyed. Call the police and file a police report. You’ll likely need to provide proof that a crime occurred in order to file a vandalism claim.
  2. Take a photo of the scratch on your keyed car. Try to get every panel that was scratched in the photo, and be sure to make a note of wherever there is a particularly deep scratch.
  3. Call your insurance company before you leave the scene and explain what happened. More often than not, they will mention that it might be worth fixing a keyed car out of pocket, unless the damage is especially deep. You can then choose whether or not to file a claim.
  4. Should you choose to file, follow the steps your auto insurance agent gives you. Every insurer — from Branch Auto to Allstate to Root — will have its own procedure for filing a claim.

Your best bet for recovering the total cost to fix a keyed car is to ask for any security camera footage that may have caught the vandal in action. This security footage can be used in small claims court if your auto insurance won’t cover the repair costs.

Does it make sense to file a claim for a keyed car?

Even if you can file an insurance claim for a keyed car, doing so may not always be the best option. It’s probably not worth calling your insurance agent in the following scenarios:

  • In cases of a light clear coat scratch, you might not get any money to cover the cost of your repair bill before you hit your deductible. Filing a claim for a repair worth less than your deductible can lead to higher insurance rates. Basically, calling up your insurance company to cover touch-up paint would be shooting yourself in the foot.
  • If you don’t have comprehensive car insurance, then your insurer won’t do anything anyway. This is why buying comprehensive coverage is sometimes worth the investment. If you do decide to get comprehensive coverage, check it’s a highly rated company with SuperMoney users.
  • If you’re about to sell your car, or if your car is already falling apart at the seams, it makes little sense to fuss over a paint repair job. Chances are that if you’re constantly running diagnostic tests because your car is on its last legs, you may want to skip the paint job altogether.
  • If you have cheap insurance with a high deductible, you won’t do yourself any favors with a keyed car claim. Low-cost insurance often comes with strings attached. It’s best to read up on what to expect from low down payment insurers before making a claim.
  • If you can fix your color coat yourself, then it’s better to go the DIY route. Unless your car has an especially deep scratch or you don’t have a body shop supply kit in your home, it makes little sense to go through insurance for repairs.

A good rule of thumb is that you should always file an insurance claim if your car has deep scratches (such as down to the bare metal), if the paint job is too pricey for you to cover out of pocket, or if the key mark stretches across multiple panels. The more expensive repairs on the keying damage will be, the better it is for you to file an insurance claim.

Should I press charges or sue the vandal?

If you have proof of who keyed your car, it may make sense to press charges or take them to small claims court. Proving the act of vandalism is normally enough to get a court ruling to cover at least part of the repair cost.

Of course, this is not always possible. You won’t always be able to track down the culprit or obtain reliable footage to prove they vandalized your car. With that said, if you can pursue this course, it’s definitely worth considering.

Pro Tip

Avoiding footing the bill for repairs on a keyed car is one of the best reasons to get a camera for your vehicle. Some companies even offer a discount on your insurance rates if you get one.

How will a keyed car claim affect my insurance rates?

The good news is that a vehicle that’s been keyed will not carry the same stigma with insurance companies as a vehicle that’s been in an accident. Accident claims tend to increase the cost of your rates significantly.

A keyed car can still increase your insurance premiums, especially if your claim history includes more than two claims in the past couple of years. If this is your first claim in more than three years, then you probably won’t see a large increase — if you see one at all.

How can I prevent my car from being keyed?

It’s important to note that there are only so many ways to prevent your car from being keyed. With that said, an ounce of prevention truly can be worth a pound of cure. The following tips can help you avoid having to repair a key scratch on your car:

  • Don’t park your car in a dark area, and make sure to avoid areas known for vandalism. High-crime areas are obviously going to have higher rates of vehicle vandalism. If you park in an area that has little security and lots of vandals, you can expect to have your car keyed in the near future.
  • Install a camera in your car. The best cameras for this purpose are ones that detect motion and activate whenever someone approaches the car. These will help catch vandals in the act of keying your car. It also helps to have a visible dashcam in your vehicle.
  • Use a valet whenever possible. Valets and secure parking garages tend to contribute to lower rates of vandalism, as there’s always someone keeping an eye on your car for you.
  • Don’t upset people who are mentally unstable or who have a history of destroying property. All insurance companies — especially car insurance companies — have seen damage done as a result of a bad breakup or some other dispute. If you don’t want to end up taking your car to a repair shop, make sure you avoid getting into altercations with people you know tend to lash out in rage.


Can a keyed car be fixed?

Yes, a keyed car can be fixed. However, it can be expensive to repair a keyed car in a shop. It’s worth noting that many people don’t fix this type of damage because it’s ornamental. Of course, if you make money with your car via advertising car wraps, it may still be wise to bring it to a repair shop.

How much does it cost to fix a keyed car?

That depends on how bad the damage is. On a typical car, a clear coat scratch can cost anywhere from $100 to $400 to fix. However, if the scratch is deep and goes beyond the base coat, it can easily cost you $500 to $2000.

If you have an exotic car, you may have to pay a fortune to repair even a little scratch, which is why these cars cost more to insure.

How can you tell if someone keyed your car?

A keyed car tends to have a single long line that drags through a large portion of the side of your car. If the car has something written into it, it’s certain that someone keyed your car. When in doubt, ask a police officer what they think happened to your car.

Do you have to press charges if you call your insurance company to fix a keyed car?

This depends on the company’s policy. At the very least, most (if not all) companies will require a police report in order to cover the costs after your comprehensive deductible kicks in. The insurance company may choose to press charges on your behalf as well.

If the person who keyed your car is someone close to you and you don’t want them to be arrested, you may want to take them to civil small claims court instead.

Key Takeaways

  • Comprehensive insurance will cover the cost of repairs on a keyed car, though it may not always make financial sense to file a claim.
  • In many cases, the cost of repairs will be less than your insurance’s deductible.
  • Keying can affect your car’s resale value, but it will not affect how well you can drive the vehicle.
  • Filing a keyed car claim can impact your auto insurance rates by driving up your premium.
  • If you only have collision insurance, then your insurance company will not cover repairs on a keyed car.
  • It’s best to file a claim if your car has a unique paint job, if there are paint scratches on more than one panel, if there is additional cosmetic damage, or if you own an exotic car.

SuperMoney has plenty of guides for prospective car buyers, whether you want to get an auto loan or buy a used car for cheap. And remember, when you’re shopping around for a deal on a new car, you don’t want to skimp on auto insurance.

Ready to start your search? Check out our guides on insurers that cover everyone and learn how you can get some steady cash back on insurance, then use our comparison tool to find the right car insurance for you!

View Article Sources
  1. Someone Keyed My Car. Will Insurance Cover the Cost to Fix It? – Value Penguin
  2. How Much to Fix a Keyed Car? — Chase