If someone tampers with your car, comprehensive coverage can help you recover.
When you’re the victim of vandalism or theft, 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. Theft and vandalism are crimes, and you can treat them 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 info 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.
Will my car insurance cover theft or vandalism?
Typically, comprehensive coverage pays to repair or replace your car if it’s stolen or 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.
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 the 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.
What kind of car damage is 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, damages may include:
- Stolen license plates
- Broken mirrors
- Stolen car rims
- Slashed tires
- Snapped antennas
- Dented windshields
- Keyed or scratched paint
- Deployed airbags
- Broken locks
Compare comprehensive car insurance
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, video can help 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 car theft or vandalism, you’ll want to record the damage and report it to police as soon as you can. If you have comprehensive coverage, call your car insurance pays to discuss filing a claim.
As for the contents of your car, look to your homeowners insurance to cover your personal belongings.
To get the best protection you’re eligible for, compare car insurance providers.