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 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, 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 $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:

  • 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 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 is usually the cheapest part of an insurance policy, 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, if your ex-spouse or enraged teenage 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 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. 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 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.

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Contributing Writer

Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions. When not writing, you can find her reading a book or watching anime.