Vandalism is a frustrating and costly problem for car owners. Whether it’s a broken window, a slashed tire, a spray-painted hood, or a stolen catalytic converter, vandalism can leave you with a hefty repair bill and a lot of hassle. But does car insurance cover vandalism? And if so, under what circumstances and how much?
The answer depends on the type of car insurance coverage you have and the details of your policy. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about car insurance and vandalism, including:
- What is vandalism and how common is it?
- What type of car insurance covers vandalism?
- How to file a claim for vandalism damage?
- How does vandalism affect your car insurance rates?
- How to prevent or minimize vandalism damage?
What is vandalism and how common is it?
Vandalism is the intentional destruction or damage to someone else’s property, such as a car. It can take many forms, such as:
- Body damage or defacement: This includes spray-painting, keying, denting, or scratching the car’s exterior.
- Broken windows and lights: This includes smashing or cracking the windshield, windows, headlights, taillights, or side mirrors.
- Tire damage: This includes slashing, puncturing, or deflating the tires.
- Engine damage: This includes putting sugar or other substances into the gas tank, cutting wires or hoses, or stealing parts like the catalytic converter.
According to the FBI, there were 6.9 million property crimes reported in the U.S. in 2020, of which 14.6% were motor vehicle thefts. However, this does not include vandalism incidents that were not reported to the police or that did not result in theft. Therefore, the actual number of vandalism cases may be much higher.
What type of car insurance covers vandalism?
The only type of car insurance that covers vandalism is comprehensive coverage. This is an optional coverage that you can add to your policy for an extra premium. It covers any damage that happens to your car that was not caused by a collision with another vehicle or object. In addition to vandalism, comprehensive coverage also covers events such as:
- Animal damage
- Falling objects
Comprehensive coverage does not cover any damage to your car that was caused by a collision. For that, you need collision coverage, which is another optional coverage that you can add to your policy. Collision coverage also covers damage to your car if you hit a pothole, a curb, or a tree.
If you only have the minimum amount of coverage required by law in your state, which is usually liability coverage, you will not be covered for vandalism. Liability coverage only covers the damage and injuries that you cause to others in an accident that was your fault. It does not cover any damage to your own car.
How to file a claim for vandalism damage?
If your car is vandalized and you have comprehensive coverage, you can file a claim with your insurance company to get reimbursed for the repair costs. However, before you do that, you should take the following steps:
- Inventory the damage: Evaluate the extent of the damage and take notes of what was damaged or destroyed. Also, check if anything inside the car was stolen or damaged.
- File a police report: Contact the authorities and file an official report of the incident as soon as possible. A police report can help prove that the damage was caused by vandalism and not by your own negligence. It can also help if there are any disputes with your insurance company or the vandal.
- Take photos: Don’t rely solely on the police report to document the damage. Take your own photos of anything that was damaged or destroyed from different angles and distances. Make sure to include any evidence of who did it, such as graffiti or fingerprints.
- Contact your insurance company: Call your insurance company and report the incident as soon as possible. Provide them with as much information as you can, including the police report number, the photos of the damage, and an estimate of the repair costs. Your insurance company may send an adjuster to inspect your car and verify the claim.
When you file a claim for vandalism damage, you will have to pay a deductible before your insurance company pays for the rest of the repair costs. A deductible is the amount of money that you agree to pay out of pocket for a covered claim. The amount of your deductible depends on your policy and how much you chose when you bought it.
For example, if your deductible is $500 and the repair costs are $2,000, you will have to pay $500 and your insurance company will pay $1,500. If the repair costs are less than your deductible, it may not be worth it to file a claim at all, as you will have to pay for the entire amount yourself.
How does vandalism affect your car insurance rates?
Filing a claim for vandalism damage could result in a rate increase, depending on your insurance company and your state. This is because filing a claim makes you appear as a higher risk to your insurer, and they may charge you more to cover that risk.
However, not all claims will result in a rate increase. Some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness or vanishing deductible programs that can protect you from a rate hike or lower your deductible after a certain number of claim-free years. You may also qualify for discounts or rewards that can offset the impact of a claim.
The amount and duration of a rate increase also depend on several factors, such as:
- The severity and frequency of the claim
- Your driving history and record
- Your credit score and insurance score
- Your location and vehicle type
- Your coverage limits and deductibles
To avoid a rate increase, you may want to compare quotes from different insurance companies and see if you can find a better deal elsewhere. You can also ask your current insurer if they can lower your rate or offer you any discounts or benefits.
How to prevent or minimize vandalism damage?
While car vandalism is usually random and unpredictable, there are some steps you can take to help prevent it or minimize its impact. Here are some tips:
- Remove any valuables from your car or hide them in the trunk or glove box. This can reduce the temptation for thieves or vandals to break into your car or damage it.
- Park in well-lit areas or in a covered garage if you have access to one. This can deter vandals from targeting your car or make them more visible to witnesses or security cameras.
- Install an alarm system or a dashcam on your car. This can scare away potential vandals or provide evidence of who did it if they do.
- Keep your car clean and well-maintained. This can make your car less attractive to vandals who may think that you don’t care about it or that it’s already damaged.
- Report any vandalism incidents to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible. This can help catch the culprit and prevent further damage.
Car vandalism is an unfortunate and costly problem that can happen to anyone. However, if you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy, you may be able to get reimbursed for the repair costs minus your deductible. To file a claim for vandalism damage, you should document the damage, file a police report, and contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
However, filing a claim for vandalism damage could also result in a rate increase, depending on your insurer and state. To avoid a rate hike, you may want to shop around for different quotes or ask your insurer for discounts or benefits. You can also take steps to prevent or minimize vandalism damage by removing valuables from your car, parking in safe areas, installing security devices, and keeping your car clean.