Will Auto Insurance Cover Pre-existing Damage?

Will auto insurance cover pre-existing damage, for instance, scratches and dents? Well, it’s not a clear yes or no.

You can likely get liability coverage, but getting full coverage might be tricky if your car already has damage.

Auto insurance differs from health insurance since it doesn’t pay for damage that happened before you got the policy.

For car insurance to cover damage, it must happen after you start the policy.

If your car already has a lot of damage, you might not qualify for certain coverages like comprehensive and collision.

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Will Auto Insurance Cover Pre-existing Damage?

Generally, insurance won’t cover damage that was already there. In fact, they might even use it to reject future claims.

Pre-existing damage means any issues your vehicle had before you got insurance, like previous damage you didn’t fix or regular wear and tear.

Here’s why insurance won’t cover it:

  1. They’re not obligated to cover damage that happened before you had their policy.
  2. They might not have enough info to decide on your claim. Covering pre-existing damage could raise their costs and your rates.

Can I Get Auto Insurance if My Car Has Pre-existing Damage?

Yes, you can still get insurance if your car has pre-existing damage, however, you must tell your insurance company about it.

It’s important to note that doing so might make your rates go up and affect future claims you make.

If you file a claim later, they can use the info you gave them against you, possibly denying the claim.

Additionally, your insurance company might also wonder if the new damage is from a recent accident or if it’s linked to the existing damage.

Having existing damage can make it hard to buy a policy that includes comprehensive or collision coverage, which pays for damages like theft or accidents.

However, you can still get liability insurance, which most states require. This covers damage you cause to someone else’s car, not yours.

However, it’s still important to fix existing damage for safety reasons.

Even if you can get insurance with existing damage, fixing certain parts of your car might be crucial for safety.

When Do I Need an Inspection for Insurance?

In some states, you must get an inspection before buying full insurance coverage.

States like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, and Rhode Island need a CARCO inspection before you get comprehensive or collision coverage.

During this check, they’ll take photos and send them to your insurance company.

The inspection looks at:

  • How many miles your car has driven
  • Its overall condition
  • Any extra features or parts
  • How it looks
  • If it has any damage

Furthermore, the inspection ensures that the info you gave matches your car.

This helps keep insurance prices fair for everyone by avoiding wrong claims.

Usually, you have a few weeks to do the inspection and if you don’t, your policy might be canceled.

Different companies have different deadlines, so be sure to know yours.

During this time, it’s important to declare pre-existing damage to your auto insurance provider.

Your auto insurance company then uses the CARCO report to adjust your rates and handle future claims.

If you’re not in one of these states, small damage might not stop you from getting insurance.

But they can still find out about your car’s history using its VIN.

VIN tracks if your car has been in accidents or has a salvage title, helping them know its past claims.

Filing a Claim with Pre-existing Damage

Getting your insurance company to cover damage that already exists isn’t guaranteed.

However, you can boost your chances by:

  1. Taking photos: Snap pics of both old and new damage for proof.
  2. Getting legal help: If your claim gets denied, talk to a lawyer.
  3. Talking to the adjuster: Communicate with the person assigned to your claim.
  4. Keeping records: Maintain records of repairs and maintenance.
  5. Updating your insurer: Let them know if you fix any pre-existing damage.

Note that, being organized with your records improves your chances of getting approval.

So, when shopping for insurance, tell each provider about your damage for accurate rates.

For liability insurance, your car’s condition doesn’t matter much. But for full coverage, your honesty during inspections ensures you’re properly protected.


In conclusion, it’s important to understand that auto insurance typically won’t cover pre-existing damage. That is damage that existed before you bought the policy.

While it’s still possible to get coverage, you’ll need to disclose any existing damage and be prepared for potential impacts on your rates and claims.

Furthermore, taking steps like documenting the damage, working with your insurer, and maintaining good vehicle records can help improve your chances of getting coverage.

Remember, honesty is key when it comes to insurance, especially if you’re seeking full coverage.

By being transparent and proactive, you can navigate the process more effectively and ensure you’re adequately protected on the road.

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