Somebody Threw a Brick Through My Car Window…Am I Covered?
Finding a big long scratch down the side of your car, or even worse all of your tires slashed is never a happy moment. Vandalism is almost always senseless and usually pretty expensive. A paint job, a new window or four new tires can be very pricey, as well as frustrating. Luckily, in most cases vandalism is covered by your insurance, as long as you have the right type. Here are a few things you may want to know about vandalism and car insurance.
Types of Vandalism
Vandalism is usually limited only by the imagination of the person committing it. While keying a car is pretty common, pouring sugar in a gas tank is much more serious and can essentially destroy a car. The same goes for pouring acid or other caustic materials on the exterior of a vehicle. What is considered vandalism will vary by insurance companies but there are a few genuine guidelines that most stick to when it comes to declaring that an act is not vandalism:
- Hit and run accidents are considered collisions and not an act of vandalism.
- When something is taken from a car it will be considered theft, not vandalism.
- If the car is caught up in an act of crime, for example being hit by stray bullets it would not be considered vandalism.
In the end the insurance adjuster will decide if your case is vandalism or falls under another category.
Is Vandalism Covered?
If you are carrying a bare bones liability policy, vandalism is not covered and you will be on your own to cover the expenses. Comprehensive is the coverage under which vandalism falls. Comprehensive insures against all types of non-accident damage including weather, theft, animals and vandalism.
Comprehensive is a separate policy type and is not included with basic car insurance. Some insurance companies will call liability and collision full coverage, which leaves you without comprehensive so those four new tires, will be on your tab. If you are driving a brand new car or one that is financed your lender will require you to carry comprehensive on the vehicle.
Even if you have comprehensive coverage you will still be responsible for the deductible, which can run to $1000 depending on your policy.
Because it can be hard to catch the perpetrator of vandalism, owners sometimes vandalize their cars to cash in on their policy. This is illegal and will end in a denied claim, policy cancellation and criminal prosecution if the damage is significant and the insurance company decides to go after you.
Insurers tend to investigate vandalism claims thoroughly and do not take fraud lightly. If you have filed more than one vandalism claim in the last few years you can expect any vandalism claims to be heavily questioned and investigated.
If your car was vandalized by an angry family member or ex-spouse, you claim will be denied as most policies do not offer coverage for deliberate damage done by someone you know, check your policy for exclusion details.
Filing a Claim
It is best to call the police and file a police report as soon as you discover the damage to your vehicle. While it is unlikely that the police will actually catch the vandal, many insurers require a police report with your claim. In most cases you can file a report over the phone but it is possible an officer will be dispatched to examine the car.
Contacting your agent or insurance company to file the claim is pretty straightforward. In most cases they will send out an adjuster to examine the damage and determine if further investigation is warranted. Under no circumstances should you fix your vehicle before your insurer has approved your claim, doing so would void your claim.
Vandalism is a headache and can be quite expensive. If you have the right insurance policy you should be covered in most cases.