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More than 6.5 million property crimes — including auto theft and vandalism — occurred in 2019, according to FBI data. The data indicates that property crime offenses have decreased in the last 10 years, but millions of property crime incidents still occur each year.
If you’re the victim of auto vandalism, comprehensive coverage will cover the cost of repairing your vehicle. But if you don’t carry comprehensive coverage, you’ll likely need to pay for the repairs yourself.
What is auto vandalism?
Auto vandalism refers to when someone damages your vehicle on purpose. Unlike a collision with another vehicle, vandalism typically occurs to parked vehicles.
Auto vandalism comes in many different forms. Common acts of intentional damage include someone:
Keying your car to create scratches
Spray painting your vehicle with graffiti
Breaking the windows, windshield, tail lights, or headlights
Slashing your tires
Using an object to create dents in your vehicle
The end result of vandalism leaves your vehicle damaged in some way. Sometimes, the damage incurred even renders the vehicle undrivable. Whether you have broken windows or spray paint all over your vehicle, you never want to deal with the repairs for damages someone else caused.
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When does car insurance cover vandalism?
If you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance policy should cover any damage caused by vandalism.
Designed to help you repair or replace your vehicle after damage caused by a non-collision incident, a comprehensive insurance policy can cover damages from fire, riots, catalytic converter theft, vehicle theft, weather-related damage, and natural disasters.
If you don’t carry comprehensive coverage, your insurer won’t help you pay to repair or replace your vehicle following vandalism. For example, carrying a liability-only insurance policy — or even collision coverage — won’t cover damage due to vandalism.
Good to Know
Many lenders and dealerships require drivers to carry full-coverage insurance, which includes both comprehensive and collision coverage, when leasing or financing a vehicle. Purchasing full coverage protects you from the costs of vandalism, collisions, and more.
How to file a claim after your car is vandalized
If you’re the victim of auto vandalism, follow these steps to file a claim:
Document the incident. Finding your vehicle vandalized can be shocking, but it’s important to note all the details of the scene carefully. Take pictures of and make a list of all the damages to refer back to later. You should also write down all the items stolen from your vehicle. No detail is too small to write down.
Call the police. Because auto vandalism is a crime, you should let the local police department know what happened. When you contact the police, ask to file a police report. Depending on your location, you may need to provide details in person or over the phone to create a report. Once the police file the report, ask to receive a copy.
Evaluate the cost of the damage. When you file an insurance claim, you’ll have to pay a deductible, which is the out-of-pocket amount you’ll pay toward repairs. Before moving forward with a claim, you should get an estimate of how much it’ll cost to repair the vehicle from a repair shop. You can also get in touch with your insurance agent for suggestions on where to get a quote.
Decide whether or not to file a claim. Weigh the estimated repair cost against your comprehensive deductible. If the repairs cost less than your deductible, then you may decide not to file a claim. But if the cost of the repairs is much higher than your deductible, you should consider filing a claim.
File a claim. If you decide to file a claim, you need to go through the claims process with your insurance company. You can typically do this through a mobile app or by making a phone call. You’ll need to provide extensive information about the vandalism incident. The police report and pictures you’ve taken should make the filing experience go smoothly.
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How to prevent being a victim of auto vandalism
No one wants to deal with auto vandalism. The strategies below can help you protect your vehicle against auto vandalism.
Park in secure locations
Where you park your vehicle matters. If you have the option, always choose to park in a secure location. Vandals are less likely to have access to vehicles parked in a closed garage or fenced-in location.
Even if you don’t have access to a closed garage, you can still choose safe parking locations. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department recommends parking in well-lit areas near sidewalks. You should also avoid parking near anything that limits your visibility, such as dumpsters, wooded areas, or large trucks.
Use anti-theft devices
Any anti-theft device designed to deter thieves can also deter vandals. For example, a car alarm might encourage the vandal or thief to leave the scene before inflicting any more damage. Common anti-theft devices include car alarms, brake locks, immobilizing devices, steering wheel locks, and GPS trackers.
Not only can an anti-theft device help you protect your vehicle, but it can also lead to a car insurance discount. If you have any anti-theft devices installed, ask your insurance company if you qualify for a discount.
Report suspicious activity
If you see someone trying to get into or vandalizing your vehicle, report it to the police. Always trust your instincts. When something doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t hurt to let the police know about the situation.
Car vandalism FAQs
Hopefully you never have to deal with auto vandalism. But if you do, the following information may help.
What covers the cost to repair a vehicle that’s damaged by vandalism?
Comprehensive coverage can cover the cost of repairs to a vandalized vehicle. After you file a claim on your comprehensive auto insurance policy, the insurer will help you pay for damages up to the policy limits. Before coverage kicks in, you’ll have to pay your deductible.
Does general liability insurance cover vandalism?
No. A general liability car insurance policy doesn’t cover vandalism. If you want coverage against auto vandalism, then you’ll need to pay for comprehensive auto insurance.
What if your car was broken into but there was no damage?
If someone broke into your vehicle but didn’t cause any damage, you should still file a police report. However, without any damage, you don’t need to file a claim with your auto insurance company.
Does car insurance cover your parked car?
Your comprehensive insurance will cover your parked vehicle. If someone vandalizes your parked car, you can file a claim with your car insurance company.
Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys helping people make savvy financial decisions. She covered insurance and personal finance topics. You can find her work on Business Insider, Money Under 30, Rocket Mortgage, Bankrate, and more. Connect with her on LinkedIn.