Figures show over half of UK motorists have caused so-called 'cosmetic' damage to their cars through minor scrapes or bumps. However, most don't claim on their car insurance due to the cost of their excess.
The ‘cut off’ point at which drivers consider it worthwhile making a claim is when damage tops £500, the research from Protect My Bubble suggests. Along with the cost of the excess, the fear of losing a carefully built up ‘no claims’ bonus or facing an increased premium the following year is enough to put many people off getting their cars fixed.
That's why some companies now sell ‘cosmetic’ insurance, also known as Scratch and Dent insurance or SMART insurance.
Here's how it works.
What is ‘cosmetic’ cover?
Cosmetic car insurance is designed to cover surface damage like paintwork chips, scratches and small dents and scrapes.
Policies are offered by various insurers covering minor damages like chips, scratches and small dents. What it won’t cover is anything mechanical and it’s not designed to fix major damage.
Claim on one of these policies and rather than leaving your car at the garage for a few days, a mobile repair unit will pop round to your home or workplace to fix the damage. Different insurers will have different guarantees on the work done.
How much does it cost?
dialdirect offers Scratch and Dent Insurance for £5.99 a month with a £10 excess and you can claim up to three times a year. ALA also does Scratch and Dent Insurance which is available for up to three years and you can also claim up to three times a year.
Shortfall does cover starting at £138 with a £10 excess fee.
What it won’t cover
You can get the odd chip or scrape sorted, but cosmetic policies aren’t designed for round the clock callouts to keep your car in showroom condition, and there’s a fair few exclusions attached to them.
Cars that aren't listed in Glass's Guide aren't covered by Shortfall's policy, nor will it payout on repairs to cracked or deformed bumpers. As for dialdirect, it won't insure your vehicle if your vehicle is over 10 years old or there is over 100,000 miles on the odometer.
The size of those chips, scrapes and scuffs is important too. Chips larger than 1.5cm in diameter or over 3mm deep aren’t covered by Shortfall and scrapes, dents or scuffs over 15 cm diameter or 3mm deep are also excluded along with any damage to the roof, bonnet or boot.
Certain paint finishes are also excluded, while alloy wheels must match the manufacturer’s standard version.
Is cosmetic cover worth the money?
If your car’s a regular victim of supermarket trolley damage then it could be worth it to get a professional repair done, although as we've seen these policies do have a maximum payout and limit the number of claims you can make.
If you put in the maximum three claims per year with Shortfall it could cost you £168, factoring in both the policy price along with three excess charges. And if you buy dialdirect's policy a sole claim could be £96 out of pocket if you max out your three claims a year limit.
Tell your existing insurer about any ‘cosmetic’ claims
You might think claiming on another policy won’t affect your main car cover; but that’s not necessarily the case. Keeping quiet about claims or incidents on the cosmetic front could cause problems with your regular insurer.
The AA’s Ian Crowder says drivers should ‘disclose all claims and incidents to their insurer, while Vanessa Chance from LV= says if you have an accident, incident or claim involving your car, you are "normally required to tell your insurer regardless of whether you make a claim or not". If a customer does not disclose this information when asked, this could invalidate their insurance policy.