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Does Car Insurance Cover Vandalism? What You Need to Know

Vandalism and malicious mischief to your vehicle can be frustrating, inconvenient, and expensive. You go out to your car, only to find it’s been keyed, spray painted, windows smashed, tires slashed, or otherwise damaged by vandals. Will your car insurance cover the repairs? Here’s what you need to know about filing a claim if your car is vandalized.

What is Vandalism?

Vandalism refers to intentional damage to property without the owner’s consent. In regards to your vehicle, vandalism could include:

  • Keying – Scratching the paint with a key or other sharp object
  • Egging – Throwing eggs at the car which can damage the paint
  • Spray painting graffiti on the car
  • Smashing windows
  • Slashing tires
  • Denting body panels by kicking, hitting, etc.
  • Ripping off mirrors, windshield wipers, antennas, etc.
  • Sugar in the gas tank to damage the engine
  • And other types of intentional destruction or defacement

Vandalism is considered a malicious act designed to damage someone else’s property. It’s not an accident – it is done on purpose.

Is Vandalism Covered by Car Insurance?

Is Vandalism Covered by Car Insurance?

Comprehensive and collision car insurance typically cover vandalism damage to your vehicle. Here are the specifics of how they apply:

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive insurance covers damage from events other than collisions, including:

  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Hail
  • Falling objects
  • Missiles

So if your car is egged, spray painted, windows smashed, tires slashed, or otherwise vandalized, comprehensive coverage will pay for the repairs or replacement, minus your deductible.

Collision Coverage

Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle from hitting or being hit by another car or object. Vandalism often results in dents, chips, scratches, and other types of physical damage from impact. If vandals kick, punch, or hit your vehicle with an object, resulting in collision-type damage, it can be covered under collision insurance subject to your deductible.

Key Things to Know

  • Comprehensive coverage generally applies to damage from vandalism without physical impact. Collision may cover vandalism involving a collision-type force.
  • You will need to pay your comprehensive or collision deductible when filing a vandalism claim. Higher deductibles lower your premium but mean more out-of-pocket expense when you file a claim.
  • If your car is totaled by vandals, comprehensive or collision coverage will pay the car’s actual cash value minus the deductible.
  • If you have an older car with minimal value, repairs from vandalism may not be worth filing an insurance claim for after paying the deductible.
  • Rental car reimbursement may be included to provide transportation while your car is repaired.
  • Filing a claim for vandalism or making too many claims could raise your rates at renewal time.

What About Liability Coverage?

Liability insurance covers damage you cause to other people and their property. It does not cover damage to your own car from vandalism. Liability only insurance does not pay anything for repairing your vandalized vehicle.

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What If You Only Have Liability Coverage?

Unfortunately, if you only carry the minimum required liability insurance and no comprehensive or collision coverage, you will have to pay for any repairs or replacement of your vandalized vehicle out of pocket.

This is why it’s recommended to purchase more than just basic liability. Comprehensive and collision provide coverage for damage to your own car from risks like vandalism, theft, accidents with uninsured drivers who are at fault, and more.

Can You Make a Claim If You Don’t Know Who Did It?

Yes, your insurance company does not require you to locate the vandal or provide their identity. As long as there is evidence that intentional damage was done, comprehensive or collision insurance should cover vandalism claims even if the culprit is unknown.

Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim for Vandalism

Follow these steps for making a successful insurance claim to cover damage from vehicle vandalism:

  • Report it – File a police report about the vandalism as soon as it is discovered. This creates an official record and can help with your insurance claim.
  • Document the damage – Take photos or video showing all areas of damage to your car. Get written repair estimates from body shops.
  • Call your insurer to report the claim – Provide details about what happened and the extent of damage. Ask what documentation you need to submit.
  • Submit the claim – Send the repair shop estimates, police report, photos/video, and any other details the insurer requires.
  • Get the repairs done – Have the approved repair shop complete the work and submit the invoice to your insurance company. You’ll pay the shop your deductible.
  • Follow up on the claim – Check that your insurer has paid the repair bill minus the deductible you already paid the shop.

Factors That Affect Costs to Repair Vandalism Damage

Just how much it costs to fix the damage from vandalism depends on several factors:

  • Type of damage – Keying may just require buffing and touch up paint. Eggs can require full paint detailing. Slashed upholstery is expensive to reupholster.
  • Number of parts/panels affected – If it’s confined to one panel it’s less than if multiple panels, windows, and parts are damaged.
  • Your deductible amount – You pay out of pocket up to your deductible, which can range from $250 up to $2500. Higher deductibles mean lower premiums.
  • Type of car – Luxury vehicles are typically more expensive to repair than standard brands, due to parts costs.
  • Where you live – Labor rates at repair shops differ by geographic region.
  • Shop rates – Each shop will have varying labor rates, while parts prices are standard across shops.
  • Insurer discounts – Some insurers have negotiated discounts with repair shops.
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While it varies case-by-case, expect costs ranging from several hundred dollars for minimal damage up to potentially over $5,000+ for extensive vandalism.

Will My Rates Go Up for Filing a Claim?

One downside of filing an insurance claim, even for vandalism, is it can potentially result in increased rates at your renewal. Insurers track your claims activity and may deem you high risk if you make frequent claims. Your premium could go up.

However, a single claim for vandalism may only negligibly impact your rates, if at all. It’s not considered your fault, so insurers are more lenient than if you caused an accident. Weigh the cost of potential rate hikes with the benefit of having the repairs covered.

How to Prevent Vehicle Vandalism

While there’s no foolproof way to fully prevent vandalism, here are some smart tips to hopefully deter criminals and reduce the odds your car is targeted:

  • Park in well-lit areas at night whenever possible. Dark, isolated parking areas attract more crime.
  • Install motion sensor security lights in your driveway if parked at home. Lights deter prowlers.
  • Get a car alarm with a blinking LED light. Even if it’s not set, it looks like you have security.
  • Park closer to building entrances when running errands. More foot traffic means more witnesses.
  • Keep valuables out of sight or take them with you. A visible laptop bag tempts break-ins.
  • Consider installing a dash cam. If your car is vandalized, it could record the criminal in the act.
  • Be aware of high crime areas and avoid leaving your car there overnight. Check crime mapping apps.
  • Report any prior damage or scratches. New damage more easily proves vandalism.
  • Turn wheels when parking on hills so it can’t roll if brakes tampered with.
  • Don’t provoke road rage incidents. Keep calm and avoid hostile drivers.

Is it Worth Filing an Insurance Claim for Minor Vandalism?

If the damage from vandalism is relatively minor, such as a small dent or scratch, it may not be worth making an insurance claim. Since you have to pay the deductible out of pocket anyway, the remaining amount covered by insurance may be minimal.

For minor cosmetic damage under $500, it likely is not worth the risk of increased premiums from a claim. You can simply pay that small amount yourself versus filing a claim.

However, more extensive damage exceeding several hundred dollars could definitely be worth filing a claim to avoid paying costly repairs yourself. Evaluate each case individually.

Vandalism Claim Denied? Here are Some Common Reasons:

Vandalism Claim Denied? Here are Some Common Reasons:

In some cases, an insurance claim for vandalism damage may be denied. Here are some reasons this can occur:

  • Only liability coverage – As discussed above, liability insurance does not cover your own vehicle damage.
  • Lapsed policy – If your coverage lapsed due to non-payment, claims will not be approved.
  • Excluded driver – If a excluded high risk driver was operating the vehicle when it was vandalized, the claim may be denied.
  • Material misrepresentation – Providing false information on your application can void your policy and lead to denied claims.
  • Lack of cooperation – Failing to provide all required documentation requested by the insurer.
  • Suspicion of fraud – Intentionally damaging your own car or lying about circumstances may be suspected insurance fraud.
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If your vandalism claim gets denied, carefully review the specifics of your policy. You can appeal if you believe it was denied in error. But in most cases, denied claims are final.

Key Takeaways on Vandalism and Your Car Insurance

  • Comprehensive auto insurance coverage will pay for damage to your car resulting from vandalism. Collision coverage also applies if vandalism causes impact damage.
  • You’ll need to pay the deductible amount you selected when filing a vandalism claim.
  • Snap photos to document damage, get police report, repair estimates, and file the claim promptly.
  • Too many claims could increase your premiums at renewal, so weigh costs before filing.
  • Prevention steps like parking in well-lit areas may reduce vandalism risks.
  • Minor damage may not be worth claiming if the deductible and potential premium increase exceed repair costs.
  • Liability only policies do not cover vandalism damage, so you’ll pay out-of-pocket.

In summary, comprehensive and collision insurance are designed to protect your vehicle investment against risks like vandalism that are out of your control. By understanding exactly what’s covered and the claims process, you can get your car or truck repaired and back on the road after being victimized by vandals.

Conclusion: Review Your Car Insurance to Ensure You’re Properly Covered

Experiencing vandalism can be upsetting and expensive to repair. Make sure you have adequate comprehensive and collision insurance coverage in force so you can successfully file a claim if the unfortunate occurs. It provides valuable protection for your vehicle against damage caused by circumstances out of your hands.

Carefully read your policy and talk to your insurance company or agent to ensure vandalism will be covered and to understand any limitations or requirements. Being proactive now, before any damage occurs, allows you to have confidence in resolving issues quickly through insurance should your vehicle fall victim to a vandal’s destruction in the future. Protect your transportation investment with proper coverage.

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