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Do you have to file charges for vandalism claim if person is known?


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Question: Do you have to file a police report and press charges to make a vandalism claim if the person is known?  If you don’t want the person prosecuted, can you still make a claim?

Answer:  Normally car insurance companies will require that you file a police report and press charges against the vandal if they are a person known to you. 

While you may be able to make some claims without a police report, claims for theft and vandalism almost always require that you file a police report, including information on if you know who the culprit is.

Vandalism to your car means that someone intentionally and maliciously damaged your vehicle.  Some say it is violence aimed at your property instead of you as a person. If you think of the situation that way, you may want to pursue the vandal.

If you have comprehensive coverage, vandalism to your car will be covered.  Whether someone scratched your car, busted in your windshield, broke a window, hit your car with a baseball bat or purposely damaged your car in some other way, comprehensive coverage should pay for your car’s damages, minus your deductible amount.

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If the person is known, then this gives your auto insurance company someone to subrogate against. If the person is cited for vandalism or prosecuted by the district attorney for the offense, it gives your insurance company a case to pursue the person for the monies they paid out on your claim. 

Charging the person with a crime isn’t typically up to you, but to the district attorney’s office, and if they decide to do so, your car insurance company will expect you to cooperate with them in giving evidence against the vandal.

Vandalism may be an infraction, misdemeanor or felony depending upon your state’s laws.  In some states, it’s all three, and it depends upon how much damage was done as to what the person is charged with.  For instance, in California damages under $250 can be charged as an infraction, under $400 a misdemeanor and $400 and over a felony. 

I can understand if you don’t want to go to the police about the vandalism to your car if whatever issues you had with the person have been resolved. This will probably limit your ability to make a claim, but only your insurer can tell you for certain of their rules. 

If you want to keep from reporting the vandal, then you can go without making an insurance claim and request that the at-fault party pay for the damages they caused.

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