Cosmetic car insurance policies cover you for superficial damage to your vehicle, paying out to fix things like scratches and dents without jeopardising your no claims bonus.
Cosmetic damage includes, but is not limited to, scrapes and marks on the paintwork or dents to the bodywork. These types of damage can often be very minor to look at and yet very expensive to rectify.
Why get a cosmetic insurance policy?
There are two main reasons why you should think about cosmetic car insurance policies: protecting your no claims bonus, and covering repairs that would otherwise cost less than your excess.
When your car suffers a minor scratch or other kind of surface-level damage, you're faced with a tricky decision: You can make a claim with your car insurance provider and have them pay for the repairs but risk losing your no claims bonus, or you can fork our for the cosmetic repair yourself.
Cosmetic insurance solves this problem. Since it functions as an add-on, or a separate policy altogether, you can make a claim on a cosmetic policy to cover minor repairs without affecting your no claims.
Moreover, in some cases, the cost of your repairs will be lower than your voluntary excess. If your repairs cost £150, but your excess is set at £300, even if you make a claim you'll still be paying for the repairs yourself. Again, a cosmetic or scratch and dent insurance policy will help here, since the excess on such policies is usually closer to £10.
What kind of damage counts as cosmetic?
Generally speaking, cosmetic insurance policies cover anything from a light scuff to a deep scratch or small dent on your car. Anything mechanical - anything that actually affects the functioning of your car - won't be covered.
Typically, there will be restrictions about the size of a scratch covered by a cosmetic policy. You'll generally be covered for scratches up to 30cm long, and 3cm deep, but this will vary from insurer to insurer.
How much do minor repairs cost?
Small, surface level scratches tend to cost £60-100 to repair, and so shouldering this cost might not be the end of the world. But deeper scratches or dents can easily exceed £200.
The cost of cosmetic repairs will vary significantly depending on what car you drive as well. If you've had a custom paint job, it'll cost more for the garage to track down the right colour to cover up minor scratches, for example.
What is SMART repair?
SMART (Small to Medium Area Repair Technology) repair involves the use of specialised tools and equipment to perform localised cosmetic repairs, without needing to fix or replace entire panels on your car. SMART insurance is usually only available from dealerships when you buy cars new, but can be taken out through brokers and usually for a lower price.