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[May 2014]

Car insurance with limited compensation range for repairing stone chip damage

The following shows a case where an insurance claim for stone chips on a car was partly rejected due to the limited compensation range.

Details of the inquiry

When I was driving a car, small stones were flicked up from an oncoming car and my car was damaged with stone chips on front glass and hood and around the right headlight. I contacted the insurance company with which I had a car insurance policy. At a later date, an insurance investigator of the insurance company examined the car.

Later, a contact person in charge of accident response gave me a phone call and said "We can only cover repair charges for one panel per one accident". When I asked the meaning of one panel, the contact person told that it was "one face". The contact person said "Most people repair the front glass". In this case, however, other faces were also damaged. I was not satisfied with the answer because two or more faces could be damaged by one accident. I asked where in the policy such a condition was specified. The contact person told that it was not written on the policy.

In addition, the contact person told that if I demanded compensation for repairing all the stone chips, I had to submit an evidence to prove that my car had got those stone chips at the same time. Since I was dissatisfied with the response of the contact person, I consulted a customer service of the insurance company, who just introduced the accident response service. I'm unhappy with the response by the insurance company.

(man in his 40s, salary earner)

Summarized outcome

When the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (hereinafter called "NCAC") contacted the customer service of the insurance company, a contact person told that the head office of the insurance company would deal with the matter. Then, NCAC contacted the head office, who replied that the customer service would deal with the matter. NCAC asked the head office to confirm a responsible department and waited for a contact from the insurance company. Later, a contact person of the customer service gave a phone call to NCAC, but the contact person did not know details of the matter at all. NCAC pointed out that it would be problematic for their system that the person in charge did not understand details nor background of the complaint. NCAC communicated the details of the case and asked the company to take an appropriate action.

Later, the insurance company gave NCAC the following explanation.

  • According to the report by our insurance investigator, the car had about 70 scratches in total on areas including bumper, hood, right and left headlights and glass.
  • Usually it is quite unlikely that 50 or more stone chips are generated at one time.
  • Recently cars are painted with a hard coating method, so it is difficult to determine if scratches are new or old.
  • It is actually difficult to determine which scratches among the total 70 are generated by the accident this time. Therefore, we are proposing to compensate for repairing one panel.

NCAC communicated the above response to the inquirer. He said "I have only claimed for compensation for repairing stone chips generated this time (several areas on front glass, hood and around right headlight). I do not intend to repair old scratches". NCAC recommended him to communicate his intent to the insurance company in writing.

As a result, the insurance company reinvestigated the car and decided to compensate for repairing the stone chips as the inquirer had requested.


Advanced technology of car coating method has made it difficult to determine whether car scratches are new or old. It may be natural for insurance companies to worry that some consumers might request compensation for repairing old scratches in addition to new ones.

In this case, however, it was found out that the insurance company had not confirmed the intent of the consumer and had narrowed the compensation range inappropriately based on the assumption that he had claimed for compensation for repairing old scratches as well, although he had just claimed for compensation for repairing new ones.

Moreover, the customer service system of the insurance company appeared to be insufficient because information on the complaint was not shared in the company.

NCAC considers that it is necessary for the company to redress these inadequacies right away.

Consultation cases concerning automobile physical damage insurance (extracted from NCAC's consumer consultation database)

  1. I renewed my contract of fraternal car insurance with coverage same as the previous year. Then, the insurance premium was increased by 10,000 yen and driver's age group was changed, with which I'm not satisfied.
  2. I entered into a contract of voluntary car insurance through the internet when I bought a car. I was charged additional cost due to mistake by the insurance company. I don't want to pay the extra money.
  3. I have a fraternal car insurance policy. When I claimed for compensation for repairing several scratches six years after taking out the insurance, the insurance company told me that past premiums will be increased.
  4. I entered into a contract of car insurance via mail-order. I felt uneasy about unkind response by the insurance company when I had a car accident. I want the company to redress the insufficient service.