Comprehensive insurance may cover paint damage, but only if it is not accident-related. For example, paint damaged by vandalism, theft or fire is typically covered by comprehensive insurance. However, comprehensive insurance doesn't cover everything; the paint damage must be caused by a qualifying event and not normal wear and tear.
Life's Little Disasters
If your paint was not damaged in an accident but rather some other event, you may be able to have the paint repaired at the insurance company's expense. However, it depends on how the damage occurred and whether you have comprehensive coverage. Unlike collision coverage, comprehensive insurance fixes damage that occurs from life's unexpected events. Typically, it covers damage from vandalism, theft, natural disasters, falling debris, fire and hitting an animal. For example, if someone vandalized your car by keying the exterior paint, your insurance carrier will likely cover the repair costs if you have comprehensive coverage on your policy.
Wear and Tear Are Your Problem
Paint fades over time naturally. This is considered normal wear and tear. Therefore, if your paint damage is due to natural causes, like being exposed to the outdoor elements over a period of time, or simple aging, your comprehensive coverage will not likely pay for the repair costs, because wear and tear is expected in the normal course of events.
Accident Is Another Story
If your car's exterior paint was damaged in a car accident, your insurance carrier is not likely to repair the damage if you only have comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage is required in these instances and typically covers damage from hitting another car or object, or from the vehicle rolling over.
Don't Smile Until You Count the Deductible
When you sign up for an insurance policy, you choose a deductible, the amount you must pay toward repair costs before your insurance company will kick in and pay the balance. In general, the higher the deductible, the lower your monthly premiums and vice versa. Therefore, if repairing the paint damage on your car costs less than or little more than your deductible, it may not make financial sense to file a claim with your insurance company and risk higher rates in the future.
Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.