Is Car Wear and Tear Covered by Insurance?

Rusty paint, worn out brakes, dents from hail: we look at what’s covered by your car insurance policy and what’s considered wear and tear.

You’re at the car lot contemplating the rainbow of color options before you. As the sun bounces off the Cobalt Blue sedan (or is it Nautical Blue?), your temporary blindness sends your brain into overdrive. Will the color you choose define your personality? Will it attract more bird poop? Will it affect your car insurance rate? The answers: uh, totally; unfortunately, yes; and nope, that’s just a myth.

Once you settle on Hemoglobin Red (sorry, Erudite Maroon), you take it home and marvel at its shiny newness. Then over time, like any relationship, it starts to show its age. Fine lines appear on the passenger side (a result of driving too close to those overgrown bushes?) and perhaps the once-vibrant color you fell in love with has begun to dull. Sure, the weekly car washes help, but once the rust seeps in, you struggle to remember the thrill you felt when you first looked into those now-cloudy headlights.

But you’re loyal. So rather than trading your car in for a younger model, you decide to do your best to restore it to its former glory. And that gets you wondering …

Does comprehensive coverage pay for car wear and tear?

In general, your car insurance policy doesn’t cover maintenance for car wear and tear or mechanical breakdowns. That’s because those costs are to be expected and insurance is meant to cover the unexpected. If your car is still under warranty, however, that contract may have some provisions for vehicle maintenance and upkeep.

While your car insurance may not cover rust or other wear and tear, comprehensive and collision coverage can help cover physical damage to your car (like the dents on your bumper from a bouncing tire iron on Highway 101 … true story). They can also help pay for damage from accidents and certain natural disasters, as well as vandalism and theft.

Wear and tear versus damage

Along with peeling paint and worn-out brakes, it’s natural for a car to get a few scratches and minor dents over the years. But what exactly is considered damage (i.e., what will your car insurance cover?), and what’s considered wear and tear? Here’s a quick breakdown:

Car wear and tear

Car damage

Rust/peeling paint Windshield damage (Esurance will generally waive your deductible if you need to repair a chip or crack)
Interior scuffs/ripped upholstery Dents (from collisions, severe weather, deer, errant golf balls, etc.)
Worn out mechanical parts (like brakes, engine parts, and axles) and electronics failures Vandalism (like keying, spray paint, or break-in damage)
General maintenance Fire

If you’re wondering about a specific scenario, give your car insurance company a call. Esurance customers can call us 24/7 at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Why do I have to have my car inspected to add physical damage coverage?

If you choose to add comprehensive and/or collision coverage to your policy, some states require you to have your vehicle inspected. The goal of the inspection is to create an accurate record of your car’s condition at the time your policy starts. That way, if you file a claim later, the adjuster can verify what damage was from that accident and what was pre-existing. This saves time when settling a claim and also helps insurance companies avoid paying more than necessary (which helps keep rates lower for everyone).

When you buy a new car, it’s generally wise to purchase physical damage coverage because it would be expensive to repair or replace a newer model. But as it begins to age, you can determine whether these coverages are still worth the added cost.

To check out which coverages could be right for you, visit our Coverage Counselor®.

Related links

Find out what else is covered by comprehensive and collision
Windshield protection tips
Can car washes save you money?
Common insurance questions from Facebook

One Response to “Is Car Wear and Tear Covered by Insurance?”

  1. J.R.
    November 5, 2014 #

    Is mold damage to the car's exterior paint considered normal wear & tear by insurance companies?

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