Knowing that your car is adequately insured can alleviate a lot of stress while driving, but what about when you're not there? Does car insurance cover vandalism? What about other damage to your vehicle while you are not in it? It can be a rude awakening to discover that your car was vandalized while away.
But what are your options? Most of us cannot afford to keep our vehicles locked up all day and night. Fortunately, there is a type of car insurance that covers vandalism and other non-collision-related damages.
What is considered vandalism?
When it comes to cars, vandalism is defined as any non-collision type of damage done to the vehicle intentionally by a person. Kicking a headlight, slashing a tire, smashing a window, and keying the car are all examples. Vandalism does not include damage caused inadvertently or by accident.
When does car insurance cover vandalism?
Certain types of auto insurance policies only cover vandalism. Does complete coverage auto insurance cover vandalism? Nope, it doesn't. The only standard policy type that covers vandalism is comprehensive car insurance. Even if you have comprehensive car insurance, there are a few things you should be aware of. It is essential to determine whether the cost of repairs will exceed the deductible. Before payouts can begin, comprehensive insurance requires a deductible to be met. Below are the three requirements that determine when vandalism is covered:
- The vehicle has comprehensive insurance
- The deductible has been met
- Some form of destruction has occurred
Whether you come out to find a smashed windshield or long marks from keying along the side of your car, comprehensive insurance will cover the damage. This type of insurance covers damages caused by car vandalism and will also payout in the event of other losses. Comprehensive insurance covers most types of damage that your vehicle can sustain while parked, such as vandalism or hail.
Steps to take if your car has been vandalized
If the worst happens and your car is vandalized, there is a simple procedure to follow. These steps are not required, but they are a prudent response to an unpleasant situation. First and foremost, ensure your safety. If your vehicle is being vandalized, keep your distance and call the cops, noting any obvious visual descriptors of the vandals.
Assess and note the damage to your car
If it's safe to do so, walk around your vehicle and list all the damages. Even minor scratches are worth documenting if you are sure they did not previously exist. Taking pictures of the damage will be helpful later on. Nothing fancy; just a few photos from your phone should suffice.
See if there are any witnesses or cameras.
Takedown the testimony of anyone who witnessed the vandals in action and is willing to speak with you. If you know of any cameras in the area that may have captured the crime, make a note of them. If appropriate, you can request a copy of the footage from the relevant period from the camera owner. Otherwise, the police may later ask it.
Contact local law enforcement and file a police report.
It's time to call the cops and file a report now that you've gathered all the information. The cops will want the majority, if not all, of the information and documentation you've gathered up to this point.
Contact your insurance agent and file a claim.
Once the police have your information and work on the case, contact your auto insurance agent and update them on the situation. Inform them of the vandalism and that you have filed a police report. Your agent may request a copy of your paperwork and the police report. At this point, if you have comprehensive insurance, you will file a claim for the damages.
Take your car in for repairs.
All that remains is to have your car repaired while you wait for the police and the insurance company.
How to file a claim for car vandalism
To file your auto claim, you must thoroughly document the damage to your vehicle. This can be a written account only, but photos are preferred. Once you've made these notations, notify your auto insurance agent that your car has been vandalized. Send them the information you've compiled and request that they file a claim for the damages under your comprehensive insurance policy. They will question you and go over your notes. After that, all that remains is to await their decision and the check (if they approve the claim).
Filing a claim vs paying out of pocket
While comprehensive insurance can be a money saver when your car is severely vandalized, it may make more sense to pay out of pocket in some cases. Every claim filed on an insurance policy will almost certainly increase the policy's premium costs. In cases where the car damage is minor and inexpensive to repair, paying out of pocket may save you money in the long run. Especially when deductibles are factored in, it might be better not to file a claim if the cost of repairs isn't significantly higher than your deductible.
Tips for preventing car vandalism
Insurance isn't the only way to keep your car safe from vandals. There are several things you can do to make your car safer. While each of these suggestions can help protect your vehicle, none of them guarantees that it will not be vandalized. The best overall security is to keep your car in a locked garage. These suggestions can be practical, even more so when implemented in tandem.
Park in a well-lit spot
Parking your car in a well-lit area can help deter people with malicious intent from approaching it. Setting up some motion sensor lights nearby can help people feel seen and exposed if they come close to your vehicle while you're away.
Park near cameras
Visible cameras have a powerful deterrent effect on criminals. Even if the camera is hidden, it can assist you in identifying the perpetrators if your car is vandalized. In places where you can't put your camera, such as parking garages, look for cameras set up by the company and try to park within sight of them.
Park in a high-visibility area
Consider parking your car in an area where it will be visible to many people. While your vehicle is being watched, it is less likely to be vandalized. This tip is simple during the day, but it can be not accessible at night. Nonetheless, the more frequented and well-lit the area, the less likely your vehicle will be targeted.
Make sure you have car alarms.
Car alarms can be effective deterrents, but they aren't always sensitive enough to detect vandalism. Check if your car alarm has a visible component that can serve as a warning. For this reason, many car alarms include blinking red lights that are installed atop the dash.
- Comprehensive car insurance is the only type of insurance that covers vandalism.
- A deductible must be met before insurance pays for destruction.
- Full coverage car insurance does not cover vandalism.
There are numerous options for protecting your vehicle. However, comprehensive auto insurance is the only option if you're concerned about vandalism. If you've taken precautions to reduce the likelihood of your car being vandalized but are still concerned, purchasing a complete car insurance policy can be wise.