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 become a costly headache. Vandalism insurance coverage falls under the comprehensive portion of your policy. If you carry a basic policy offering only liability coverage, you will be on your own regarding repairing costs.
The good news: In most cases, a claim against your comprehensive coverage will not raise your rates.
Vandalism is criminal mischief
For the most part, vandals are rarely caught, so it’s wise to have coverage for vandalism. 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 $300 are considered a Class 3 misdemeanor. You move into Class 5 felony territory punishable with 1-3 years imprisonment when the damages are between $5,000 to $20,000. Damage between $100,000-$1,000,000 is a Class 3 felony with 4-12 years imprisonment and/or $3,000-$750,000 in fines.
Comprehensive coverage and vandalism
Comprehensive Coverage and Vandalism
Comprehensive Insurance Covers:
Typical Comprehensive Deductibles Are:
Filing a Vandalism Car Insurance Claim:
Police departments don’t break out criminal mischief statistics by type, so it is difficult to pinpoint an exact number regarding automotive vandalism.
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 caused by an event other than a collision. Vandalism, fire, theft, flooding and animal strikes are examples of covered incidents.
Your state doesn’t require the coverage, but your car loan may require that you carry it.
Comprehensive insurance policy is usually the cheapest part, making up about 10 to 15 percent of the typical premium.
Comprehensive will cover legitimate vandalism, but it won’t cover intentional damage or damage caused by a person named on the policy. So, you are not covered if your ex-spouse or enraged teenage child takes a baseball bat to your car. 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 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 from incidents 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.
Tips for filing a vandalism insurance coverage claim
- Get a police report. Your insurer will require one for any claim. The police might not prioritize your defaced car, 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 vehicle can be moved to avoid additional damage once the police allow it. 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.
— Mark Vallet contributed to this story.