Cosmetic car insurance

Keen to keep your car’s paintwork pristine? Cosmetic car insurance covers dents, scuffs, scratches and chips.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 24 July 2023  | 3 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

Information on this page was reviewed by our fact-checkers before it was published. Learn more about our fact checking process and our editorial guidelines.

What is cosmetic car insurance?

Often called scratch and dent insurance, it pays out to repair minor damage to your vehicle’s bodywork. Things like unsightly chips and dents, scratches and scuffs.

Cosmetic car insurance can be taken out as a separate policy or as an add-on to your car insurance. So, if you make a claim, it won’t affect your main motor insurance.

That means you won’t lose your no-claims bonus or run the risk of facing a higher premium at renewal time.

You may be offered the chance to purchase cosmetic car insurance when you buy a car new at a dealership. But you can buy it separately online or through a broker. Always compare the options available to get the right deal.

Key points

  • Cosmetic car insurance pays to repair minor damage to your car’s bodywork, like chips, small dents and scratches
  • Claiming on a cosmetic car insurance policy won’t affect your main motor insurance policy’s no-claims discount
  • Insurers have their own rules as to what they class as cosmetic damage and there’ll be a limit to the number of claims you can make in a year

What type of damage is classed as cosmetic?

Insurers will have their own rules and regulations as to what they class as cosmetic damage and will cover.

For example, many policies stipulate that a paint chip, scuff or scratch should measure no more than 30cm in length and/or diameter and about 3mm in depth. Deeper, longer marks and dents won’t therefore be covered.

They may also state that the scratch occurs within a maximum of one body panel.

Many cosmetic insurers only cover damage that can be repaired using the Small to Medium Area Technique (SMART). This is done by a technician using specialist equipment who can come to your home or place of work. More serious damage that requires the replacement of panels on your car or other extensive repair work that can only be done at a garage won’t be covered by many cosmetic car insurance policies.

Of course, any mechanical damage that affects the driving of your car isn’t classed as cosmetic damage, so won’t be covered by this type of policy either. Plus, serious body damage, such as the kind sustained in a collision is excluded too.

Does my car insurance already cover cosmetic damage?

Yes, your motor insurance will likely cover dents, scuffs, scratches and other cosmetic damage to your car.

But it might not be worth claiming on your main policy because the cost of minor cosmetic repairs is usually less than the excess you’d have to pay.

Plus, as we’ve already mentioned, you could lose your no-claims bonus and run the risk of having to pay more when you renew because you’ve made a claim, no matter how small.

What doesn’t cosmetic insurance cover?

It depends on the policy, but it could exclude:

  • Vehicles with custom paint finishes like matte and pearlescent paint
  • Vehicles with stripes, decals and vinyl wraps
  • Cosmetic repairs to the roof of a vehicle
  • Damage to headlights, glass, wheels and door and window mouldings
  • Cracked, flaked paint that exposes the vehicle’s metalwork
  • Damage caused by fading

Some providers will only offer cover to vehicles under a certain age and mileage too.

Is cosmetic car insurance worth it?

It depends if you’re a stickler for seeing the paintwork on your car looking perfect and good as new.

If you often drive in urban areas and park in small spaces, regularly getting small scuffs and tiny dents in the bodywork repaired, cosmetic car insurance could save you money in the long run.

Remember that most cosmetic car insurance policies will have a limit on the number of claims you can make in a year though.

And any serious or large scratches, plus things like body panel or bumper replacement, will be excluded from cover.

Frequently Asked Questions

Minor dents would usually be considered cosmetic damage. For larger, deeper dents you’d either have to claim on your main car insurance or pay for repairs yourself.

Even a minor dent can damage the top sealant of your car’s paintwork. This can leave the paint underneath more vulnerable to the elements, which could expose the metal underneath and eventually result in corrosion and rust.

If cosmetic car insurance won’t cover a large dent and you’re considering claiming on your main motor policy, first check what your excess is. In some cases, repair costs will be lower than your excess. For example, if repairs cost £150 and your excess is £200, you may consider whether it’s worth making a claim.

Unfortunately, when no culprit can be found, you’ll either have to pay out of your own pocket or claim through your insurer to get the damage repaired.

However, the cost of repairs may be less than your excess. Plus, you may lose your no-claims discount and get charged more at renewal. So it might not be worth claiming on your main car insurance policy.

This is when a cosmetic car insurance policy would help.