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5 pranks covered by car insurance

Penny Gusner

By

Consumer Analyst

Lighted jack-o-laternSoon, ghosts and ghouls will overtake your neighborhood.  While many just want treats, some mischievous Halloween celebrators enjoy pranks.

The Halloween Spending Survey, conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), found that 158 million people in the U.S. plan on participating in some way. For example, 70 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed said they plan to wear a costume this year.

But costumes, parties, pumpkins and haunted houses won't be enough for some of those folks. If your vehicle is damaged by a mischievous act or a careless accident, will you be covered?  Yes, if you have the right car insurance coverage for the event.

Five pranks covered by car insurance

1. Broken car window.  Whether a person uses a bat or giant candy stick to break a window on your car, it would be covered under your comprehensive coverage. 

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In Florida, if you make a claim for your windshield, it comes without a deductible being due.  Kentucky and South Carolina car insurance companies waive the deductible for all glass replacement claims.   In all other states, the deductible will normally be due if you make a glass claim unless you chose a zero deductible for glass coverage.

2. Slashed tires.  Tire damage is also covered by comprehensive coverage.  If you make a claim, your car insurance provider will take into account how much your tires have depreciated.   Thus, you won’t end up getting paid for a set of new shoes if you’re replacing five-year-old tires with 50,000 miles on them.

3. Egged vehicle.  If your car’s paint job is damaged by the volatile compounds contained in eggs, then you would claim it under your “other than collision” coverage, also known as comprehensive. 

If you get to the car in time, you might try to wash the egg and save yourself from a claim.  If the damage is done, then don’t be surprised if your comprehensive coverage won’t cover a full-vehicle paint job if only one area has been damaged.  The damaged area should receive new paint, which the painters will try to blend in with the rest of the car’s older paint. 

And if you have a custom paint job, it may not be covered unless you have custom parts and equipment coverage as part of your policy.

4. Sugar in the gas tank. Sugar in the gas tank has been proved by scientists not to be the nightmare it's alleged to be.  The sugar should be caught by filters, but if it does get through it could clog fuel injectors.  You may need to make a take the car to a mechanic to clean out the fuel tank and lines, which should be covered under comprehensive coverage.

5. Pumpkin chunkin’.   If a pumpkin is thrown at your vehicle and damages it, then this would be considered a flying missile and again covered under your comprehensive coverage. 

Pranks in general are considered acts of vandalism or malicious mischief and are covered by comprehensive coverage.  This physical damage coverage also covers theft, fire, animal strikes, flying missiles and damage resulting from natural events like hail and wind storms.  

Car insurance companies typically require vandalism claims to be accompanied by a police report.   So, if it turns out it’s someone that you know that did the damage, the individual may be busted by the police and pursued by your insurance company for any money it paid out in claims.

It’s not just pranks that are covered

Halloween season may also result in other unexpected events that could be covered by your car insurance policy.

  • Kids run into your car.  If kids are busy rifling through their candy bags and walk into your car or accidentally bang it with their heavy candy bag hard enough to leave a mark, this would be covered by collision. 
  • Black cat crosses your path.  If you hit a cat, or any other domestic or wild animal, and it damages your vehicle, then this would be an animal strike and covered under your comprehensive coverage.  However, if a black cat runs across the road, spooks you and causes you to crash into a tree, that would be covered by collision.
  • Halloween decoration cause dings and dents.  If an inflatable pumpkin breaks loose, rolls down the street and crashes into your car, causing a dent -- that’s a collision claim.  However, if a Halloween decoration lets loose due to wild winds becomes a flying missile and falls hard on your vehicle causing damage, this would be a comprehensive claim. 

No matter what type of claim a Halloween incident or prank falls under, I’d advise you to save your car insurance for the big things.  If the damage to your vehicle is minimal, get an estimate for repairs to see if it’s less than your deductible amount to repair.  If it is, skip making a claim.  Pay out-of-pocket or find the responsible party and make him pay.

If the repair costs are way over your deductible, then go ahead and make the claim.  One comprehensive claim doesn’t typically raise your rates.  However, if you have multiple claims -- of any type -- it can cause a rate increase; or, your car insurance company may even find you too much of a risk to renew your policy at the end of its term. 

Best yet, if you have a garage, park your car inside in on Halloween where it will be safe away from malevolent ghosts and black cats.


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