Does car insurance cover interior damage?

Depending on your policy, you can get covered for damage to the inside of your car.

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Following an accident you might be wondering if your insurer will pay for damage to the inside of your vehicle. After all, you don’t want to have to pay to redo the upholstery or replace your sound system.

Yet insurers won’t always pay out for claims that involve the interior of your car. Find out why and what you can do to keep the inside of your motor protected.

Is interior damage covered by car insurance?

It depends what type of policy you have.

Should you only have a third party policy then your insurer won’t pay out for any damage to your car.

With third party, fire and theft insurance, your car’s interior is covered in the event that someone breaks in or there’s a fire that wasn’t your fault. Should you leave a burning cigarette on the seat then you won’t be covered for instance.

A comprehensive deal will typically cover you for interior damage though. That is if it happens as a result of a collision, vandalism, theft and acts of nature, such as falling objects and wild weather.

To claim though, the damage needs to be due to an incident that was out of your control. So, if a vandal breaks into your car and slashes the seats or carpet, 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
  • Permanently fitted audio system
  • Dashboard
  • Wheel
  • Floor liners
  • Floor mats

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

What’s not covered?

Wear and tear

Regardless of what kind of insurance policy you have, 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
  • Damage caused by children or pets, unless you’ve purchased pet coverage
  • Burn marks from cigarettes
  • Scratches from your keys
  • Rips and tears caused by sharp objects, such as heels, cleats or studded jewellery

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
Comprehensive policies won’t typically cover any items that you added to your car, such as:

  • A radio or speakers you installed
  • Satellite navigation system
  • TV or DVD player
  • Custom seats or decorations

If you want to protect any modifications such as a new sound system or DVD player then ask your insurer if it can cover them. You may have to pay extra, but not telling your insurer about any modifications could actually invalidate your policy. This means you wouldn’t get a single penny if you make a claim of any kind.

Intentional damage
It goes without saying your provider won’t pay for interior damage if you damage your interior on purpose, or if the damage occurs when you’re using your car to commit a crime.

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

Here are some key steps you should take 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. Take photos of the damage, including some close-up shots.
  3. Determine your coverage. Go through your car insurance policy handbook and work out if the damage will be covered. If the cost of the repairs is less than the excess amount then you should just pay out of your pocket. It might even be worth just paying for the damage out of your own wallet anyway (depending on the price) as you could lose your no claims discount and be hit with a higher premium.
  4. Contact the police. Was the damage caused by vandals or thieves? To ensure the claims process is as speedy as possible, file a police report as soon as possible.
  5. Make a claim. Finally you should file a claim with your insurer who will then decide whether everything checks. If it does, 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?

Making a claim for interior damage is no different to making any other sort of claim.

Each insurer has its own claims process. However, all providers will ask ask you fill out a claims form and provide supporting documents, like photos of the damage. You will do all of this either online, via email or potentially by post.

To speed up the process you’ll need the following at hand when you get in touch:

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

Your insurer will then look at your claim and send a claims assessor to take a look at the damage. Should your insurer decide to pay out, you’ll probably have to go to one of its approved garages to get the repairs carried out.

How much will it cost to repair interior damage?

It depends on the extent of the damage and the make and model of your vehicle.

As a rule of thumb, the more expensive the item is to replace the more it will cost. You’ll have to pay far more for leather upholstery or a flashy sound system for instance.

Or if the parts are unique and difficult to find, then it might cost more too.

Ultimately, if your insurance provider has said it will pay out for the damage, you’ll only have to pay the excess. This is the amount you agreed to cough up for a claim before the insurance money kicks in.

Bottom line

Car insurance only pays for the interior damage caused by unexpected incidents, for example if you’re involved in a collision or someone breaks in and vandalises your car.

You won’t be covered for ordinary wear and tear, or if you’ve caused the damage by smoking in your car or spilling a drink. Nor will a standard policy cover certain interior parts, such as a DVD player, unless you contact your insurer and ask for these modifications to be included in your deal.

As always, it’s vital to get the right level of protection for you. Plus, by shopping around and comparing all the car insurance providers out there, you can get the best deal possible.

Common questions about car insurance and interior damage

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