Does Car Insurance Cover Paint Damage?

Will car insurance pay for a paint job? Car insurance usually covers a paint damage claim if it was caused by a covered incident. Read on to find out how insurance companies determine fault in an accident.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 25, 2022

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Things to Remember...

  • Car insurance will typically cover paint damage caused by a sudden and unexpected event
  • Insurers will not cover damage caused by wear and tear
  • You will need collision or comprehensive insurance to fix your vehicle’s paint damage 

When you’ve been in a car crash, you’ll want to focus on getting the vehicle back on the road and may wonder how much it’ll cost. You may know that insurance comes into play but aren’t clear about your coverage. Will car insurance pay for a paint job? We’ll explore this question in detail to help put your mind at ease so you can get your car back to looking brand new without spending more than you need to.

Does insurance cover paint damage?

If a sudden or unforeseen event caused the paint damage to your car, insurance will likely cover it (if you have the right coverage). If it’s paint that’s faded, peeled, or suffered corrosion-related damage, you could be out of luck. Insurance companies generally will not pay for basic wear. Otherwise, their exposure would be much higher, and premiums would increase dramatically.

However, if the damage is related to a crash, you may be in good shape. Your vehicle is almost certain to suffer some paint damage when involved in a car crash. Still, how you proceed depends on who was to blame and what coverage you have.

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Determining Fault

The role of insurance covering your paint job will depend on who’s at fault in the situation.

Not at Fault

If you are not at fault, and the other party takes responsibility, their property damage liability policy will cover the costs of repairs. This will pay for the structural or mechanical damage to the vehicle and the exterior paint. In the case of vandalism, however, you’ll need to use your own car insurance coverage even though you’re not at fault. It’s typically covered under comprehensive coverage.

At Fault

If you’re at fault for the crash, you need to turn to your own insurer for help. Everything will depend on your coverage and whether your insurance company will pay out a claim for paint damage due to an at-fault collision. 

Comprehensive coverage could kick in if you damaged your vehicle by hitting an animal or from storm damage, for example. Collision coverage could apply if you hit another vehicle or stationary object.

Uninsured Motorist

You may have uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage as a rider to your policy, and this should cover you if the other driver was at fault and uninsured. Note that UMPD is distinct from basic uninsured motorist coverage.

The Fair Market Value Complication

Bear in mind that insurance companies will assess the fair market value of your vehicle alongside the estimate for repairs. Should the bill exceed this value — say in the case of extensive paint and body damage — they may want to “total” the car rather than have it repaired (Claims Journal). The insurance company would then pay you for its reasonable value. You may be able to dispute this with your insurance company or consider whether to withdraw the claim based on the best outcome for you.

Does insurance cover car scratches?

If a scratch is relatively small and caused by everyday driving, you will need to put it down to wear and tear. You’ll get a similar answer to the question, “Does insurance cover rock chips in paint?” However, if your car has been “keyed” by a vandal leading to significant damage, you may be able to file a claim under your comprehensive coverage.

What about the deductible?

In all cases, you need to consider the value of any deductible before you think about filing a claim. Even if you think a claim would be valid, would the costs be higher than your deductible? Further, would a claim lead to increased rates in the future?

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Final Thoughts: Will car insurance pay for a paint job?

When it comes to car insurance, paint damage is a legitimate claim if caused by a car crash or a sudden, unforeseen event. You need to determine who was at fault to know how to proceed. You might need certain types of insurance for a paint damage claim to be covered, such as collision, comprehensive, or uninsured motorist property damage.

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