Does Auto Insurance Cover Vandalism?
Every day in America, a car owner wakes up to a nightmare. While walking to their parked car, they find out someone slashed their tires, causing them to go flat. Other drivers learn a perpetrator has smashed their window and stolen their wallet or purse. Some even see derogatory words spray painted and blazoned on their vehicles.
Vandalism is a criminal act that many vehicle owners experience. According to a 2013 study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute, there is an average of 692 vandalism claims made daily. If you were a recent victim of vandalism, you probably wonder if your insurance coverage will pay for the damage. In this article, we'll discuss which auto insurance pays for vandalism damages.
What Is Auto Vandalism?
Car vandalism refers to someone causing intentional destruction, damage or defacement to a vehicle. Car vandalism may occur when your vehicle is parked in a public setting or at home. Common acts of car vandalism include:
Slashed or stolen tires – Sometimes a vindictive person will try and get revenge by slashing someone's tires. In other cases, a thief can actually steal wheels from the car. These acts make it impossible for you to drive your vehicle. If vandalism happens to you, contact your insurance company if you have roadside assistance available on your policy. They can contact a tow truck company and bring your vehicle to a shop to make repairs.
Broken car windows, headlights or taillights – During this act of vandalism, a person takes a crowbar or other item to smash the glass of a vehicle's windows or lights. Since the glass shatters, instead of a tiny break, these items require replacement, not just repairs.
Spray paint damage – Someone defaces your vehicle by tagging it with spray paint or using defamatory or denigrating terms.
Dents and scratches – Another person may use their car keys (or another object) to scratch your car or scrape the paint off its exterior.
Putting sugar or other substances in your gas tank – Someone pours this material into your gas tank to prevent it from operating properly.
What Is a Car Vandalism Insurance Claim?
These are car vandalism insurance claims related to vehicle vandalism. Your insurance company won't cover your vehicle damage claim unless you carry comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy.
Does Car Insurance Cover Vandalism?
Comprehensive coverage on an auto policy is the only car insurance that covers vandalism damage. Comprehensive coverage helps to repair or replace your vehicle if it's damaged in an incident that is uncontrollable and non-collision related. Comprehensive insurance is sometimes called "other than collision" coverage. Comprehensive insurance coverage protects against events like:
- storms and natural disasters
- broken or shattered windows or windshields
- damage falling objects (tree or hail)
- damage caused by animals
You should consider carrying comprehensive coverage if your vehicle is less than ten years old and worth more than $3,000. This coverage costs $50 - $100 per year depending on the insurance company.
Should I File an Insurance Claim for Vandalism?
Before you file an insurance claim, check your insurance policy declaration page to see how much your comprehensive coverage deductible will cost. Find out if the repairs exceed the car insurance deductible on your policy. If so, it's best to file a car insurance claim for the damages. You can learn how much repairs cost after an act of vandalism and after you file a police report and have a police report number. Here are some average costs:
|Fixing dents||$125- $500|
|Repairing scratches from keying incidents||$150 - $3,500|
|Paint job to cover defacement||$1,000 - $4,500|
|Chipped or broken windshield||$60 - $1,000|
Deductible options for comprehensive insurance may range from $0 to $2,000 depending on your zip code and insurance provider. You're responsible for paying more out-of-pocket if your car insurance deductible is higher. On the other hand, your auto insurance premiums will also be more expensive.
Can a Vandalism Claim Raise Your Insurance Rates?
Yes, filing a claim for vandalism can raise your insurance rates, even if you didn't cause the damage or have control over the act.
What Should You Do if Your Car is Vandalized?
Finding out someone has vandalized your car can be upsetting. There are several steps you should follow if another person has damaged your vehicle.
Take an Inventory of the Vehicle's Damage – Write down information about the vandalism that was done to your car. Did they break windows, slashed your tires or defaced your car? Once you finish writing down all the damages, search through your car to see if the property was stolen or damaged.
File a Police Report – Your auto insurer will probably request that you file a police report after a vandalism event occurs. Always contact the police when someone vandalizes your car. This report is essential for your insurance claim and these acts could be associated with other criminal activity in your neighborhood.
Gather Photographic Evidence – After you learn someone has vandalized your car, take a few minutes to gather evidence to support your claim. Snap several pictures of the damages to your vehicle and contact your local police department. A local officer should arrive to write an incident report.
Get Repair Quotes – Next, get a quote from a body shop (where you plan to have your car fixed) to learn how much repairs will cost.
After you've gathered your evidence, get your auto insurance policy information and id number. Now, you're ready to contact the insurance company.
Contact Your Insurance Company about the Vandalism Incident
You can start the claims process once the incident report is submitted to the police. Once you've finished writing down evidence and taking photos, contact your local insurance company.
They will assign a claims adjuster and insurance agent to help you complete your report. They can help you decide whether it's a good idea to file a claim.
If the police catch the vandal, you can file criminal charges against them. Your car insurance company may bring a suit against them to recover any damages they paid to repair your vehicle.
How Can I Protect My Car After a Vandal Broke a Window?
You'll have to protect your car from further damage after someone breaks your vehicle's window. Move the vehicle to the side of the road and cover the broken window using a plastic cover and tape to prevent further damage to your vehicle from threats like rain, dust or debris. Insurance carriers won't pay for further damages to your vehicle caused by the elements entering your vehicle.
What Should I Do to Protect My Vehicle After Someone Keyed It?
You'll need to take your vehicle to an auto body shop that can give you a quote about how much repairs will cost. They can also provide this information about your vehicle to your auto insurance company.
Delaying repairs can cause your damages to become worse. Additionally, you'll have a harder time proving that your vehicle was caused by the vandal, rather than your inaction.
Repairs can also prevent scratches from corroding and rusting. Once this occurs, your insurance company may not pay for repairs.
If you must delay repairs, cover the scratches with plastic, fabric or a temporary clear coat suggested by your repair shop. It will prevent these damages from getting worse.
Five Tips to Prevent Your Car from Being Vandalized
There are four tips you can take to prevent your car from being vandalized by a criminal.
1. Lock your vehicle after you park it
One way to prevent your car from being vandalized is to lock your vehicle. It will stop some criminals from taking an opportunity to damage your car.
2. Don't leave valuable items in your car
These items can be enticing to thieves who may smash your windows and grab these expensive items from your vehicle. Comprehensive coverage only covers damage to the body of your vehicle. It doesn't cover any stolen items a thief takes later. Your homeowners insurance or renters insurance may cover theft claims, in some instances.
3. Strategically park your vehicle in areas with good lighting
Some criminals will vandalize a car when they believe no one can see them. They usually commit these crimes in poorly lit areas. When you park your vehicle, select a well-lit area that would discourage criminals from choosing your car to damage.
4. Get a good security system for your vehicle
To protect your car from vandalism, invest in a good car alarm. A screaming alarm can cause a criminal to run off. You can also invest in cameras at your residence to catch any criminals who commit crimes while on your property. The video evidence will provide the police with video evidence about the perpetrator.
5. Pay for Valet Parking
When you can't find a parking spot on a public road, consider paying a parking valet. They can select the safest roads to park your vehicle. Most valets work in a secure parking lot with security cameras. They monitor for suspicious characters and have security guards that can prevent criminals from damaging your car.
Do you need a new car insurance carrier that provides excellent coverage for vandalized cars? If so, you can search for one using SmartFinancial's online comparison tools. We'll help you compare coverage from several insurance companies within your local area. You'll also get free quotes from carriers and select the most affordable one that fits your needs. It's the smart, easy way to shop for insurance online. Just enter your zip code to get started.
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