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Does Car Insurance Cover Paint Damage?

When it comes to vehicle damage, in the auto insurance world it really depends on how the damage took place. Meaning, what type of paint damage occurred. There are some types of paint damage that could be covered if you have comprehensive coverage.  This line of coverage covers damage resulting from theft, vandalism, fire, accidents with animals, weather/acts of nature, or a falling object.

Here are the most common types of paint damage and how your insurance carrier will likely handle your claim. 

Paint Is Fading And/Or Clear Coat Is Peeling

Your insurance carrier will 100% deny this as this will be considered normal “wear and tear” on a vehicle. Most automaker factory paint will last 15 years. Just like any other item, keeping the paint clean and contaminate free will extend the life of your paint. 

If you purchased your vehicle new from a dealer and the paint is starting to peel after a few years, you’re better off contacting the dealer and automaker directly instead of filing a claim with your insurance carrier. Think about it, if the leather on your steering wheel started to peel off, you wouldn’t call your insurance carrier to fix it, right?  

If you purchased the vehicle used, this will be extremely tricky. If you purchased a used vehicle from a dealer and the paint problem occurs after the warranty period you agreed upon in writing, the dealer will not assist you. They will state you should’ve purchased the extended warranty, state you agreed to buy it as is, and/or blame the prior owner if the paint starts peeling too soon.

If you purchased your used vehicle from a private party, once you’ve purchased the vehicle you’ve indirectly accepted liability for the vehicle as is. A safety-related item, say an airbag, would be a different story but paint doesn’t change the drivability of a vehicle. If the paint issue surfaces after a period of time after the sale, you’d have to prove the paint issue isn’t from you’re doing. This will be difficult. And, you’d likely have to take the seller to small claims court. If the paint issue occurs within say 90 days after the sale, you may have a claim but if it’s several years later, it’s not worth your time. 

Keyed, Spray-Paint, Or Egged Damage

This type of damage is considered vandalism damage. Therefore, if you have comprehensive coverage you should file a claim. These types of damages always cost more than you think so do not attempt to handle out of pocket until you advise your insurance carrier. Comprehensive claims do not increase your rates in nearly every state. 

Animal Droppings Or Tree Sap Damage

This is a tricky one. Some insurance carriers will consider this wear and tear as parking your vehicle outdoors is open to elements. Some will deny the claim as it is your duty to remove any debris on your vehicle to prevent damage. And some may cover the damage depending on the severity and loss details. Tip: If something extremely unusual takes place, take photos prior to attempting to clean the vehicle. 

Sandstorm Damage

This damage is by far the most expensive type of paint damage. It can cause an entire paint job and all trim items (grilles, moldings, and even glass) to be replaced. Sandstorm damage can easily total a vehicle. Some insurance carriers will consider the left side damage and right side damage as two separate claims because either your location or wind direction changed. Tip: Sandstorm claims are typically difficult. You should take scene photos and pull up weather records for when and where the damage took place. Do not delay reporting the claim as this will add more issues to the claim.