Skip to Main Content
Robbie Hoye

By: Robbie Hoye on March 15th, 2023

Print/Save as PDF

Does Auto Insurance Cover Damages From a Car Wash?

Personal Auto | Individuals & Families

When your car begins looking a little worse for wear and is covered in grime, it usually means it’s time for a good cleaning at the car wash. But what happens when it comes out of the wash looking worse than when it went in? 

If you find that your car has been damaged by your local wash, you may be wondering who’s insurance would cover the repairs, if they are covered at all. 

At Berry Insurance, we’ve gotten this exact question from our clients, and after consulting our team of auto insurance experts we have been able to compile answers for this scenario. In this article we will outline how auto insurance will cover damages from a car wash and who’s policy will provide the coverage. 

Are car wash damages covered? 

As is the case with many insurance claims, it can depend. 

You may be able to receive compensation for any damages your vehicle sustained during a car wash but it will depend on the circumstances.

While car insurance is designed to provide coverage for physical damages in the event of vandalism, accidents, weather, and many more, your insurance does not provide coverage for routine wear and tear. This means that your insurance provider may not provide coverage for any scratches, chips, or other damages unless there is proof that they were caused by the car wash. Also, any damages from a car wash that worsen a pre-existing issue on your vehicle, such as bubbling or rusting paint, may be exempt from coverage as they would be classified under normal wear and tear from before the car wash. 

However, you may still receive compensation for damages as a result of the negligence of the car wash owner or staff. Negligence on the part of the car wash staff would involve any situation where they were aware of potential hazards or safety risks, but did not take the necessary steps to address them. This could include having poorly maintained equipment, staff that does not follow safety guidelines or lacks proper training, or if there is not adequate instructions on how to operate an automatic car wash. 

For example, a car wash could be held liable in the event that proper signage was not provided to explain to drivers how to enter a touchless car wash, resulting in a driver entering the track incorrectly and damaging their vehicle. On the other hand, if the proper care was put in place to explain how to operate a car wash and the driver was in control of their own vehicle when damages occurred, such as accidentally driving into washing machinery, then the driver would be held liable for their own damages as well as damages to the washing equipment.

Another example would be if your vehicle is damaged at a local community or youth car wash, such as a heavy bucket of water being thrown and denting your car. In this case you could hold the car washer or individual operating the car wash negligent, with their insurance covering the damage to your car. 

Can I still file a claim if I signed a waiver? 

Some car washes will require drivers to sign a liability waiver before a wash, protecting them from any potential equipment damages or scratches that may occur during a wash. However, this waiver may not protect car washes if true negligence on their part can be proven, still forcing their insurance to cover any repairs. 

What insurance coverage will cover car wash damages? 

If damages made to your vehicle do fall beyond normal wear and tear, then you will need to know what insurance coverages will cover the damages. 

In most cases, you would be able to cover the damages through comprehensive or collision coverage, depending on the scenario. 

Collision coverage is used to cover damages to your vehicle as a result of a collision with another object. In this case, if you collided with car washing machinery/equipment or potentially another vehicle. 

Comprehensive coverage instead offers coverage for damages to your vehicle from incidents other than a collision. With car washes, comprehensive would cover you in the event that your vehicle is damaged by faulty equipment, dents, or water damages. 

Policyholders should know that both collision and comprehensive coverage are optional coverage choices on a Massachusetts auto policy. If you’re interested in learning about both of these coverages and if they’re right for your own auto policy, check out this article: Do I Need Comprehensive or Collision Auto Coverage?

Covering every claim

As accidents can happen in the most inopportune of places, it can be useful to understand how your insurance will cover each situation. Now that you know more about how you can be covered after your vehicle is damaged in a car wash, you may be interested in learning more about the auto insurance claims process. 

While we’d like to say that the claims go over without a hitch every time, at Berry Insurance there are some scenarios that  can potentially delay the claims process or lead to denied claims. To learn what you can do to be prepared and to avoid common claims issues when you’re filing an auto claim, check out our article on 5 common problems with auto claims.