Scratch and dent cover is a relatively new insurance product in South Africa. It covers your car for the repair of minor body damage, such as small dents, nicks, scratches and chips. As a separate insurance policy from your regular car insurance, scratch and dent can offer you the protection against the implications of claiming from your main insurance for minor damage to the body of your car. It also saves you protects you against having to fork out cash from your own pocket for any minor body damage.
Type of Damage
Your car sustains microscopic scratches and chips every time you drive. Since you cannot see it, you do not usually bother with it. Over time this minor damage takes effect and leads to dulling of the paintwork and rust formation. However, sometimes your car can sustain a more significant dent, scratch, nick or chip.
It can be from a stone hitting against the body work, scraping your door against a wall, having an inconsiderate person parked next to you opening their door on your car, or a small fender bender at low speed. Even washing your car without first rinsing off the dust and dirt on the surface can lead to minor damage to the paintwork.
Extent of Cover
Scratch and dent cover pays out for all of these incidents. It focuses on minor car damage which is determined either by price of the repair job or the techniques required to restore the body work. What this means is that your scratch and dent cover will only pay for damage if it does not exceed a certain monetary limit, for example R3,000. It also means that it will only pay for dents that can be “pulled out” and does not need replacement of the panel or more extensive repair work,
If your claim exceeds this limit or the repair work requires more attention, then scratch and dent cover is not applicable. You will either have to claim from your comprehensive car insurance or pay for the repair work from your own pocket. Scratch and dent does not cover your car for theft, hijacking, loss through fire or other eventualities. It also does not cover the cost of repairing a third party vehicle if you are in accident where it was your fault and therefore liable to repair the other party’s car.
Price and Excess
Understandably scratch and dent cover is significantly cheaper than comprehensive car insurance. But remember, these two types of insurance products are very different. Since scratch and dent cover only applies to the minor damage to your car bodywork, and only up to a certain limit, you will be paying anywhere from R50 to R200 per month*, depending on individual policy benefits and insurers. You can have both scratch and dent cover as well as comprehensive (or third party) car insurance for the same car at the same time, but both will be separate policies.
Most scratch and dent insurers do not charge an excess for claims. However, if you have an excess waiver built into your policy then you should expect to pay more every month for this level of cover. Even if you are liable for an excess, it is usually small since the payout is only for minor damage. For example you may pay between R300 to R500 per claim for damage of around R3,000 per event*. It is nevertheless a small charge for the peace of mind of knowing that your car body work is protected against minor damage that can be expensive to repair.
* Please note that rates mentioned in this article are purely for illustration and may be significantly different from actual policies.