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Does car insurance cover interior damage?

With the right level of insurance, you can get a payout for damage inside your car.

Updated

Fact checked

Most policies only pay for interior damage caused by a covered incident, such as an act of vandalism. This comes down to the level of insurance you carry.

Unfortunately, basic liability coverage won’t protect you from interior damage. For the ultimate protection, you’ll want to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage, also known as full coverage. Collision or comprehensive coverage will protect your car from damage to the seats, steering wheel and more.

Is interior damage covered by car insurance?

Yes, the inside of your car is covered like the outside of your car.

If the interior of your car is damaged in a collision, your collision coverage kicks in to cover the repairs needed to bring your car back to precollision condition. For example, if you strike a tree and the branches smash your windows and pierce your seats, you could file a claim.

If you have comprehensive coverage, your car is protected from vandalism, theft and acts of nature, such as falling objects and wild weather. For an incident to qualify, the damage needs to be out of your control. So, if a vandal broke into your car and slashed the seats or carpet, keyed the dashboard or damaged the paint, your insurance should take care of the repair costs.

What kind of interior damage is covered by car insurance?

Your collision or comprehensive coverage may cover the cost of repairing items that are part of your car’s normal configuration. These include:

  • Upholstery
  • Seats
  • Stock speakers
  • Dashboard
  • Wheel
  • Floor liners
  • Floor mats
  • Trunk mats

Remember, your insurer will only cover this damage if it was caused by an accident or an unforeseen incident.

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What’s not covered?

Wear and tear

Regardless as to what kind of coverage you carry, your insurer won’t cover the damage caused by wear and tear or negligence.

These are the most common exclusions:

  • Stains from spilled food or drink
  • Mess and damage caused by children or pets — unless you’ve purchased pet coverage
  • Burn marks from smoking
  • Scratches from your keys
  • Rips and tears caused by sharp objects, such as heels, cleats or studded jewelry

So, if you accidentally scratch the interior of your car with your keys, or spill something that shorts out your speaker system, your insurance will deny your claim.

Custom parts and equipment

Collision and comprehensive coverage won’t cover any items that you added to your car, such as a:

  • High-end stereo system
  • New navigation system
  • TV or DVD player
  • Custom seats or decorations
  • Custom paint

If you want to protect pricey items, ask your insurer if they offer a special endorsements add-on. For a fee, this supplements your collision or comprehensive coverage and ensures that any custom parts are covered.

Intentional damage

Your insurance won’t pay for interior damage if you damage your interior on purpose, and if the damage occurs as a result of committing a crime using the car.

What should I do if the interior of my car is damaged?

First, figure out if the damage falls under your collision, comprehensive or special endorsements coverage. Then, follow these steps to boost your chances of a successful claim:

  1. Collect as much information as you can. Record the time and place of the incident, and a description of the damage.
  2. Document the damage. Snap photos of the damage, including close-ups.
  3. Determine your coverage. To find out if you have sufficient coverage, read your car insurance policy. If the cost of repairs is less than your deductible, it may be worth paying for it yourself. You might end up paying more out of pocket, and you could be penalized with a higher premium when you renew your policy.
  4. Contact the police. Did the damage occur as a result of vandalism or theft? Speed up the claims process by filing a police report as soon as possible.
  5. Make a claim. Go ahead and file a claim with your insurer. If everything checks out, you’ll be reimbursed for the damage to the interior of your car up to your policy limits.

How do I file a claim for interior damage?

Filing a claim for interior damage is the same as any other claim.

Each insurer has its own claims process. You’ll need to submit claims forms and supporting documentation — such as photos of the damage — online, via email, or through the mail.

To sail through the process, have this info handy:

  • Your name, address and driver’s license number
  • Your insurance policy number
  • The date, time and place the damage occurred
  • Specific details of the damage

The insurer will then send a claims adjustor out to assess the damage, or ask you to drive to a pre-approved auto body repair shop for an inspection.

How much will it cost to repair interior damage?

It depends on the extent of the damage and the make, model and year of your car.

Generally, the more expensive or unique an item is, the more it costs to replace. For example, you’ll cough up a lot more for leather upholstery, custom speaker systems and tech devices like TVs than you would for carpeting or floor mats.

The same principle applies for the type of car you have. Older, exotic and hybrid cars tend to have hard-to-find or pricier parts, so you can expect to pay more for repairs.

Bottom line

Car insurance only pays for the interior damage caused by unexpected incidents, like a collision or act of vandalism. It doesn’t cover ordinary wear and tear, or custom parts unless you’ve purchased special endorsements for your policy.

To get the most value for your money, compare car insurance providers.

Common questions about car insurance and interior damage

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