Does Insurance Cover Paint Damage to Your Car?

Paint damage on your vehicle can be upsetting and expensive to repair. A ding in your door from a runaway shopping cart can cost hundreds of dollars to fix. More extensive paint scratches or fading requires a full repaint, which can run over $1000 easily.

Naturally, drivers wonder if they can file an insurance claim to pay for paint damage repairs. The answer depends on your auto insurance coverage and the cause of the damage.

In this guide, we’ll explain:

  • What types of car insurance cover paint damage
  • When paint damage is covered or not covered
  • How to file a claim for paint repairs
  • Tips for keeping paint costs affordable

Understanding exactly how auto insurance handles paint claims can save you money and frustration.

Collision Insurance Will Cover Accident-Related Paint Damage

Collision coverage is an optional part of auto insurance that pays to repair damage to your vehicle after an accident. It covers your car regardless of who was at fault.

If your car’s paint gets scratched, chipped, or dented in a crash with another vehicle or object, collision insurance will pay for paint repairs up to your coverage limits.

For example, if you sideswipe a concrete barrier and badly scrape your door’s paint, collision will pay for repainting the door after you pay your deductible.

However, collision only covers paint damage directly resulting from an accident. Wear and tear over time or damage from other causes is not included.

Comprehensive Covers Paint Damage from Non-Crash Events

Comprehensive coverage is also optional and pays to fix damage from non-accident-related incidents, including:

  • Vandalism or riots
  • Theft or an attempted break-in
  • Severe weather like hailstorms
  • Falling objects like tree branches
  • Collisions with animals like birds or deer
  • Fire, explosions, or floods

So if your vehicle’s paint gets keyed by vandals, cracked from hailstones, or scraped by a stray shopping cart in a parking lot, comprehensive insurance will pay for paint repairs after you meet your deductible.

However, comprehensive only covers paint damage from external events like these. Normal wear and tear over time is not included.

Common Scenarios: Is Paint Damage Covered?

To help determine if auto insurance will pay for paint repairs, here are some common scenarios:

  • You sideswipe another car in traffic – Covered by collision insurance
  • Hailstorm pelts your vehicle with dents and paint cracks – Covered by comprehensive insurance
  • Tree sap falls on your car over several weeks, damaging the paint – Not covered since it happened gradually over time
  • Your car is vandalized with spray paint graffiti – Covered by comprehensive insurance
  • Your 10-year-old car’s clearcoat deteriorates and fades – Not covered since it’s normal wear and tear
  • A rock flung by a passing car chips your bumper paint – Not covered since it was not a crash

As these examples illustrate, collision and comprehensive insurance do not cover all paint damage scenarios. Make sure to understand your coverage before filing a claim.

Limits and Deductibles Apply to Paint Damage Claims

Two important factors restrict how much auto insurance will pay for paint repairs:

1. Coverage Limits

Both collision and comprehensive insurance have maximum payout limits per claim and per policy term. For collision, limits equal the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle. For comprehensive, limits are based on your chosen dollar amount of protection.

If paint repairs exceed your coverage limits, you pay the remaining costs yourself. Having higher limits reduces out-of-pocket expenses.

2. Deductibles

Collision and comprehensive have deductibles, often $500 to $1000 each. This is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in.

So if you have a $500 deductible and file a paint damage claim for $600, your insurer covers $100 while you owe the deductible. Smaller deductibles mean less money you pay per claim.

You Can Use Your Own Insurance or Make a Liability Claim

If your car’s paint gets damaged in an at-fault accident caused by another driver, you have two options:

  1. File a collision claim through your own insurer

This allows you to get your car fixed quickly without waiting for the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your insurer will then try to recover their costs from the liable party later on.

  1. Make a third-party liability claim directly against the at-fault driver’s insurance

Their property damage liability coverage will pay to repair your car’s paint. However, this process may take longer as you work directly with another insurer.

An attorney can help negotiate the best settlement if the at-fault insurer disputes damages or delays payment.

Normal Wear and Tear Is Not Covered

Auto insurance never covers gradual paint damage from normal use over time. Examples include:

  • Clearcoat fading
  • Chalking
  • Oxidation
  • Losing gloss
  • Yellowing
  • Cloudiness

These naturally happen as paint ages. You must pay out of pocket for repairs. Keeping your car garaged and well-maintained reduces wear.

Protecting Your Paint to Avoid Expensive Repairs

Preventing paint damage in the first place is wise. Here are tips to keep your car’s paint immaculate:

  • Wash regularly using the two-bucket method to avoid swirl marks
  • Apply paint protection film to vulnerable areas like the hood and bumpers
  • Wax 2-3 times per year to protect the clearcoat from UV rays
  • Fix chips quickly so they don’t spread into cracks
  • Park in garages to shield the paint from weather and falling debris
  • Avoid parking under trees to prevent sap damage
  • Be vigilant when opening car doors near other vehicles
  • Use touch-up paint on small chips and scratches to prevent rust

Investing a little time and money into paint care can save you from expensive repairs later on.

Alternatives If Insurance Won’t Cover Paint Damage

What if your car’s paint gets damaged in an uncovered situation? You have a few options:

  • Pay for repairs yourself if they are affordable. For minor chips or scratches under $200 – $300, this may be the easiest approach. Get a few body shop quotes first.

  • File a claim anyway and hope your insurer doesn’t notice the paint damage cause. This is risky and may be considered fraud.

  • Use touch-up paint kits from an auto parts store for very minor scratches. The color-match may not be perfect however.

  • Live with the damaged paint if repairs are too costly and the driving experience is unaffected. Cosmetic-only problems usually have little effect on car functionality.

  • Sell the car as-is if paint damage significantly hurts the resale value. This puts the car in new hands to repair and lets you get into a new one.

While auto insurance won’t pay for paint damage in every case, finding affordable solutions is often possible.

The Bottom Line on Insurance and Paint Damage

Collision insurance covers accident-related paint damage, while comprehensive insurance handles paint damage from non-crash events like vandalism or storms.

But both have monetary limits and deductibles that restrict payouts for paint repairs. And they exclude wear and tear over time.

Making a third-party claim against an at-fault driver’s liability insurance is an option too. But coverage can be denied if you lack proof they caused the damage.

Preventing paint damage through good maintenance and driving carefully is your best long-term strategy. Properly caring for your car’s finish reduces the need for expensive repairs down the road.

Does insurance cover scratches on car?


Will insurance pay for a new paint job?

Collision, comprehensive, and liability coverages are all included in full coverage insurance. Hence, unless the damage is the result of natural wear and tear, it should be able to cover for paint jobs.

Does insurance cover sun damage?

Most homes sustain damage from sun exposure over time. So, does your home insurance cover this expense? In fact, most home policies don’t cover sun damage, but with regular attention to maintenance and proper insurance protection, you can avoid damage and risks.

Do you have to tell insurance if you paint your car?

“Your insurer will consider your vehicle to be in the same condition that you purchased it, so if you make a modification through a custom paint job and want it covered in case of damage, notify your insurer.”

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