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Does car insurance cover car vandalism?
If someone tampers with your car, comprehensive coverage can help you recover.
When you’re the victim of vandalism, it can feel devastating. Look to law enforcement to help you catch the culprits — and to your comprehensive coverage to help you recover and get back behind the wheel.
My car was vandalized. What should I do first?
Launch into action by collecting evidence and calling law enforcement. Vandalism is a crime, and you can treat it that way from the start.
- Document the scene. As tempting as it is, don’t clean up the damage, including paint or broken glass. Snap photos of any damage to your car to strengthen your police report and validate your claim with your insurance company.
- Create a list of stolen items. If your car was broken into, write down your personal belongings the thieves took off with. Think about items stored in the glove box, including IDs, credit cards or registration papers. Later on, submit this list with your police report and insurance claim.
- Call the police. A police report is a solid way to support your claim. Call you local police station at a non-emergency number to file a report for car vandalism or theft and they’ll dispatch an officer to assess the damage or record the details over the phone. Often, vandals and thieves sweep an area to target multiple cars. If you file a report quickly, local police can spring into action to catch the perpetrators.
- Get a quote from a body shop. An estimate of repairs helps you to decide whether to file a claim. Generally, if your policy reimburses you for damages, but your deductible is higher than the total, it may not be worth filing a claim.
- Contact your insurance company. Are the repair costs higher than your deductible? If so, it’s a good idea to get your insurer involved. They’ll send an adjuster to evaluate the damage, and let you know next steps like working with a preferred network for repairs. To file the claim, your insurer needs all details you can provide, plus the contact information of your lender or lease company, if you don’t own the car outright.
- Cancel accounts for stolen items. If you discover that sensitive documents were stolen — credit cards or bank statements, for instance — proactively freeze your credit cards and bank accounts. You can even set up a fraud alert with the major credit bureaus. If your wallet or ID was taken, order a new ID as soon as possible to avoid identity theft and fraud.
What car theft details will I need to file a police report?
Police will want as much information about you and the incident as possible, including:
- Your driver’s license number and vehicle registration
- Your insurance card or policy details
- The estimated date and time of the incident
- A list of any personal property stolen or damaged
- Photos of the damage
- Potential suspects, if you know them
What happens next?
Other than filing a report, understand that your police department may not get involved unless you suspect someone or the case involves a high level of threat. Instead, the process may look more like this:
- Report details of the vandalism to local police.
- Receive your copy of the report.
- File a comprehensive claim, sending in the report with your claim.
- Receive an estimate of the damage, review and accept your insurance settlement.
Will my car insurance cover vandalism?
Typically, comprehensive coverage pays to repair or replace your car if it’s vandalized. In most cases, it kicks in after you’ve paid your policy’s deductible.
Some providers, like Geico, waive the deductible for minor dings or glass repairs. To qualify, chips must be smaller than a quarter and cracks smaller than a dollar bill. These are strategic requirements that provide an incentive to get the repairs done before the damage gets worse.
While comprehensive coverage covers a stolen car, it won’t pay to replace personal belongings stolen from inside the car, including portable GPS and removable stereos. To be reimbursed for those items, you’ll need to file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance company.
These property policies typically have their own deductible, so it may be worth filing a claim if the thieves took off with expensive items, like a laptop.
A handful of insurers offer protection for personal belongings and car enhancements, such as stereo systems. You’ll pay extra, and limits and special conditions apply. To find out what kind of belongings you can claim in an accident, read the fine print of your policy.
What acts of vandalism are covered?
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car that’s out of your control. Some insurers are more generous than others. Depending on your policy, covered damage may include:
- Broken mirrors or windshields
- Broken locks
- Deployed airbags
- Damaged engine
- Damaged equipment, such as car radio, gauges, gear shift or cameras
- Damaged frame
- Keyed or scratched paint
- Setting car on fire
- Slashed tires
- Snapped antennas
- Stolen car rims
- Stolen license plates
- Stolen personal items
- Wire tampering
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How much does it cost to fix a broken window or keyed car?
Vandalism might seem minor, but the damage can cost you your hard earned dollars if you don’t have comprehensive coverage. Common costs you might see:
- Dents and dings: $60 to $130
- Paint job: $50 to $1,000
- Broken windshield: up to $2,000
- Body damage: up to $2,000+, depending on type of damage and severity
- Tire repairs or replacement: $50 to $300 per tire
Should I make a claim?
If the damage is minor, you could opt to repair the damage yourself rather than alerting your insurance company. While that decision is entirely up to you, you might save time and hassle if the damage doesn’t go above your deductible.
In this case, your claim might not receive a payout since you might pay $500 or $1,000 before your insurance kicks in. However, you could benefit from a minor claim if your deductible is low.
Will my homeowners insurance cover theft?
It might, especially if the thieves broke into your car to steal personal items like a smartphone, laptop, wallet, jewelry or designer sunglasses. Your homeowners or renters insurance may also cover theft of work tools and equipment.
To claim the contents of your car, you’ll need to provide receipts, bank statements or other proof of ownership. When you file a police report, providing a list of stolen items strengthens your claim.
Like comprehensive coverage, your homeowners policy is subject to a deductible.
How can I keep my car safe from vandalism?
To protect your car from future incidents, take on these tips:
- Park in well-lit areas or parking garages. The more visible your car, the less likely it is to be vandalized. Cars in dark, hidden areas are easy targets.
- Set up a dashcam. If thieves or vandals tamper with your car, your dash cam can help you and the police find the culprits.
- Lock your doors. No matter how safe your neighborhood, lock your car and roll up the windows whenever you’re not in it.
- Invest in an antitheft device. Electronic destabilizing devices, immobilizers and steering wheel bars and motion-activated alarms might deter thieves. You might even earn a discount on your premium.
- Don’t leave personal belongings in plain sight. A cluttered car is an invitation for thieves. Stow your belongings under the seat, in a compartment — or, better yet, take them with you.
- Add a tracking device. Recovery systems like OnStar or LoJack can help to track the location of a stolen car.
- Buy a car cover. If you have a flashy or brightly colored car, consider covering it. As a bonus, this protects your car from weather damage
After your car is vandalized, you’ll want to record the damage and report it to police as soon as you can. If you have comprehensive coverage, you can call your car insurance to file a claim or opt to pay for the damage yourself.
To get the best protection you’re eligible for, compare car insurance providers.
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