Will My Insurance Cover My Car if It’s Vandalized?
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If you added comprehensive coverage to your auto policy, then your car is covered for vandalism. Covered losses may include shattered windows, slashed tires, graffiti and broken lights.
While vandalism-related damages may be covered, you will want to assess the repair costs before filing an insurance claim. If repair costs fall below your deductible, you may want to pay for them out of pocket — otherwise, filing a claim may increase your premium and cost you more overall.
What Is Considered Car Vandalism?
Vandalism refers to someone intentionally damaging or defacing your car. It can happen anywhere: your driveway, while you’re on the road or in a parking lot. Vandalism-type losses often include:
- Slashed tires
- Stolen tires
- Shattered windshield, windows and mirrors
- Broken headlights and tail lights
- Body damage (e.g., dents, scratched paint, keyed damages)
- Pranks and mischief (e.g., gluing door locks, pouring sugar into gas tank)
- Catalytic converter theft
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When Does Car Insurance Cover Vandalism?
Auto insurance will cover you for vandalism only if you added comprehensive insurance to your auto policy. Maintaining comprehensive coverage is not mandated by the state but can be required by your lender or lessor if you are financing or leasing your car. Comprehensive insurance also shields your car from other types of damages beyond your control, including:
- Fire or lightning
- Tree branch damage
- Riot or civil commotion
- Striking an animal
Without comprehensive insurance, you will need to pay out of pocket for damages caused by vandalism and the perils listed above.
How Do You Protect Your Car From Being Vandalized?
The general rule of thumb for protecting your car from vandalism is to reduce accessibility, add deterrents and don’t give vandals a reason to target it. Here are some tips to keep your car safe:
- Park in a secured garage: Your car is less likely to be targeted if it’s out of sight and less accessible. Parking your car in a shared residential parking structure, for example, where it’s well-lit and has cameras can deter criminal activity.
- Keep valuables out of sight in your car: Don’t give vandals a reason to break into your car. Keep all valuables, like purses, shopping bags and electronics, at home or stored out of sight in your trunk.
- Vary your parking spots and times: When you have a set routine that criminals can observe, they may be more likely to target you.
- Install a GPS tracking device: A GPS tracking device can help you recover your car if it is stolen.
- Install a security camera: The visible presence of a security camera is often enough to deter vandalism activity to your car. Catching a vandal on tape is useful evidence you can submit if you file an insurance claim or pursue legal action.
- Confirm your alarm system is working: A blaring alarm can alert you and scare away vandals in the process of breaking into your car.
Unfortunately, vandalism is rampant in some locations and is often beyond your control. However, taking steps (like those listed above) can help protect your car and deter criminal activity.
How To File an Insurance Car Claim for Vandalism
If your car was recently vandalized, you can take the following steps to file a car insurance claim and get reimbursed for your losses.
1. Call the Police
Call law enforcement promptly to file an incident report. Damages to your car may be one instance among a series of cases. The police officer can collect evidence to help identify the culprit and hopefully prevent future cases. A police report will also be handy when filing your insurance claim.
2. Assess and Document the Damage
Determine how much damage was done to your vehicle. Take notes and check to see if any personal belongings were stolen or damaged, as well. Cops may not accurately document the damage, so it’s important to take your own pictures of anything that was damaged or destroyed.
3. Talk to Witnesses
Look for witnesses and cameras at the scene. If somebody saw your car being vandalized, take down their name and contact information. If you notice cameras in the area, ask the camera owner for a copy of the footage showing the committed crime. The police may request this footage, as well.
5. Report the Accident to Your Insurer
Once you have documentation, pictures and your police report, you can report the accident to your insurance company. You can usually do this over the phone, and some insurers have mobile apps or online tools that let you file a claim. The insurer will want to know the date and time of the incident, where the damage is located on the vehicle and the police report number.
6. Determine if It’s Worth Filing a Claim
You can report the accident to your insurance company but refrain from filing a claim if the subsequent rate increases outweigh the insurance payout. It’s generally not worth filing when the total damage costs are equal to or less than your deductible. Bear in mind that your insurance premiums will likely increase for a few years after filing a claim, so you should only go down this path if the rate increase is more than what you’re willing to pay out-of-pocket.
Don’t forget about personal belongings inside your car. Renters or homeowners insurance may cover personal possessions stolen from the car as long as they aren't permanently affixed, like your car stereo. You will need to file a separate claim for your personal belongings.
7. Schedule Your Car Repairs
If you proceed with the insurance claim, your insurance company will offer a settlement amount to repair the damages to your car. While your insurance company can recommend repair facilities, you are not obligated to use them. You can go to a shop of your own choice — however, you may pay the difference if a shop you choose charges a higher price.
Will My Insurance Rates Go Up if My Car Is Vandalized?
Filing a vandalism car insurance claim could result in a rate increase despite the damages being out of your control. However, whether the rate increase applies and how much the increase will be can vary by insurance company.
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If you are worried about the cost of your current car insurance policy, it may be time to look for new insurance coverage. SmartFinancial can help you on your journey. We compare insurance quotes from the nation’s top insurance companies. Just enter your zip code below and answer a few quick questions to get started.