Broken window

What is considered vandalism?

Vandalism to your car means that someone intentionally and maliciously damaged your vehicle. 

Keyed or scratched paintwork, broken side mirrors, smashed windows, snapped antennas and slashed tires are among the most common acts of car vandalism.

A vandalized car is bad enough, but without the proper car insurance, it can turn into a very expensive headache. Vandalism insurance coverage falls under the comprehensive portion of your policy. If you are carrying a basic policy offering only liability coverage, you will be on your own when it comes to repair costs.

The good news: In most cases, a claim made against your comprehensive coverage will not raise your rates.

Vandalism is criminal mischief

For the most part, vandals are rarely caught, which is why it’s wise to have vandalism insurance coverage. When they are, their crime in most U.S. jurisdictions is prosecuted as criminal mischief. Depending on the degree of damage, the crime can be a misdemeanor or a felony.

In Colorado, for example, damages of less than $100 are considered a Class 3 misdemeanor. You move into Class 4 felony territory when the damages exceed $500 but are less than $15,000. Over $15,000 is a Class 3 felony, which can land you in the clink for four to 12 years and cost up to $750,000 in fines — something to think about before you head over to your ex’s house with a can of paint in hand.

Comprehensive Coverage and Vandalism

Comprehensive Coverage and Vandalism

Comprehensive Insurance Covers:

  • Vandalism
  • Broken glass
  • Theft
  • Fire damage
  • Flood damage
  • Severe weather damage from hail, wind, hurricanes, tornadoes
  • Animal strike damage
  • Damage from falling objects or missiles

Typical Comprehensive Deductibles Are:

  • Between $250 to $1,000

Filing a Vandalism Car Insurance Claim:

  • You typically need to file a police report
  • You will have to pay your deductible
  • Your rates typically won’t go up

Police departments don’t break out criminal mischief statistics by type, so it is difficult to nail down an exact number when it comes to automotive vandalism. In 2011, criminal mischief was the third most reported crime in Denver.

If the vandal is caught and not named on your car insurance policy, 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.

Vandalism insurance coverage

Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle from damage that is caused by an event other than a collision. Vandalism, fire, theft, flooding and animal strikes are examples of covered incidents.

The coverage isn’t required by your state, but your car loan may require that you carry it.

Comprehensive is usually the cheapest part of an insurance policy, making up about 10 to 15 percent of the typical premium, says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst with Of course, your deductible still applies.

Comprehensive will cover legitimate vandalism, but it won’t cover intentional damage or damage caused by a person who is named on the policy. So, if your ex-spouse or enraged teenaged child takes a baseball bat to your car, you are not covered. In general, damage by family members isn’t covered, regardless of whether they are named on the policy.

The same goes for taking a bat to your own car. Insurance fraud is measured in the billions of dollars each year. If you are filing a vandalism claim, be prepared for an investigation, especially if it is a high-value claim.

Will my rates go up after a vandalism claim?

Typically, comprehensive claims don’t cause car insurance rates to rise. This is because comprehensive auto insurance claims mainly come about from incidents that you have no control over.

However, there is the possibility that your car insurance rates could be raised due to the number of claims you’ve made.

Experts offer these tips for filing a vandalism insurance coverage claim:

  • Get a police report. Your insurer will require one for any claim. And police might not make your defaced car a top priority, but the information gives them additional data.
  • Document the damage. Take photos, note missing items, and get copies of any paperwork. Gather receipts for stolen or damaged aftermarket items.
  • Protect the car from further loss. Broken windows should be covered to prevent weather damage. The car can be moved to prevent additional damage once police have given the OK. And material such as eggs that can damage paint if left to dry can be rinsed off.
  • Contact your insurer. Insurance companies can help guide you through the process. Ask about towing and rental car reimbursement.
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Contributing Researcher

Mark is a freelance journalist and analyst with over 15 years of experience covering the insurance industry. He has extensive experience creating and editing content on a variety of subjects with deep expertise in insurance and automotive writing. He has written for,, DARCARS and Madtown Designs to name just a few. He is also a professional blogger and a skilled web content creator who consistently turns out engaging, error-free writing while juggling multiple projects.