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Vandalism can be a costly and upsetting experience. Whether it’s broken windows, spray paint on the hood, keyed doors or slashed tires, vehicle repair expenses can add up quickly. Thankfully, if your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, your insurance company could help cover the cost of repairs. However, is filing a vandalism claim always the best option? Understanding how car insurance coverage for vandalism works and what you should consider before filing a claim may help you decide.
What is auto vandalism?
Auto vandalism is intentional destruction or damage to a vehicle. It comes in a few common forms, but if you have the right coverage in your policy, then auto insurance might help pay for the repairs. Here are a few types of vandalism you may experience:
- Body damage/defacement: Car body damage can occur through spray painting or using sharp objects to scratch paint off the car’s exterior, for example. Sometimes minor scratches can be buffed out, but often these types of body damage require a new paint job or replaced panels.
- Broken windows and lights: Broken windshields or other car windows almost always require replacement, and damaged headlights or side mirrors also generally require a new part to be installed.
- Slashed or stolen tires: If tires are slashed or stolen, your car will not be driveable, so it may require a tow truck to get it into the repair shop. It’s a good idea to check your policy and see what is covered by your insurance.
If your car has been vandalized and you want your insurance to cover the repairs, it’s important to begin the claims process as soon as possible. But for insurance to help pay for the damage, you must have the right coverage in your policy.
Does car insurance cover vandalism?
Your auto insurance will cover damage resulting from vandalism, but only if the policy includes comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage, along with collision coverage, is typically included in full coverage auto insurance policies.
State laws generally don’t require you to have full coverage. So unless you’re certain you opted in or you have a financed vehicle and were required to carry it by your lender or lessor, you’ll need to check your policy to determine if it includes comprehensive coverage.
It’s important to note that comprehensive insurance will not cover any personal items within the car if they were stolen in a vandalism-related incident. Coverage for your belongings would come from your renters or homeowners insurance. If personal property is stolen from a vehicle, it is a good idea to talk to your insurance company to discuss your options.
Do I have to pay a deductible if my car is vandalized?
If your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, it will cover damage caused by vandalism minus your car insurance deductible. Depending on your state and insurance provider, a comprehensive deductible can range from zero to $2,500. The most common option selected is usually between $250 and $500.
If you aren’t sure whether your policy includes comprehensive coverage, check the policy details listed on your declarations page, which usually appears at the beginning of your insurance policy packet. You can also call your agent or insurance company to clarify what is covered.
How to file a vandalism claim
Insurance claims for vandalism should be filed as soon as possible after you notice the damage. You may need to file a police report, though, before filing a claim with your insurer. To make sure the claims process goes smoothly, it’s important to know the general steps involved in filing a car vandalism claim.
Call the police
First, make sure you are not in any danger. Vandalism is a crime, so if your car has been vandalized, you may want to contact your local police department and file a report. If you decide to file a claim with your auto insurer, a police report may be required anyway.
It’s also a good idea to write down details of the vandalism damage while they are fresh in your mind and to take photos with your phone. These details can be helpful when speaking with your insurance company, and photos can potentially be uploaded to your insurer’s mobile app as part of the claim-filing process.
File a police report
The police department may or may not send someone to the scene. If they do, they may want to inspect your vehicle. If no one is available at the time, you may need to file the police report by phone. Be completely honest and give as many details as you can. Ask for a copy of the report, as you may need to give it to your insurance claim representative.
Contact your auto insurer
You should contact your auto insurer to file the claim as soon as possible. This can usually be done over the phone, and many insurers have mobile apps or online tools that allow claims filing. The insurer will likely ask for the date and time of the incident, where the damage is located on the car, where the car was parked and the police report number. It is helpful to have this information ready when filing the claim.
Meet with the claims adjuster
Vandalism claims often require an inspection by a claims adjuster, so you will probably need to set up a time for them to view the vehicle. The adjuster will take note of the damage and explain the next steps in the claim process.
Have the car repaired
Once your auto insurer approves your claim, take your car to the repair shop. The insurer may provide you with a list of preferred repair facilities, but you can typically use a facility of your choice that’s not included on their list. Keep in mind that if you do not use the insurer-recommended shop, the process could take longer or repair costs could exceed the amount that your insurer has agreed to pay.
Am I required to report damage from vandalism to my insurance company?
The decision to file an insurance claim for vandalism is personal and depends on several factors. Unlike car crashes that may involve property damage or injuries, you are not legally required to contact the police or your insurance company. However, if you have a car loan or lease your vehicle, you are likely contractually obligated to repair it.
Another factor to consider is the amount of your comprehensive deductible versus the repair costs. If repairs are not cost-prohibitive, you can forgo using insurance and pay for the repairs yourself. Also, if the repair costs are lower or somewhat even with your deductible, filing a claim wouldn’t benefit you since the cost would be the same.
Does vandalism raise your insurance rates?
Damage that falls under a comprehensive loss involves incidents beyond your control, such as theft, vandalism, hail, fire, flooding, falling objects and animals, to name a few. Since there is no fault assigned to the loss, you should not see a surcharge applied to your car insurance if you file a vandalism claim. There is a possibility that you may see a slight increase in the cost of your comprehensive coverage upon the next renewal, but this varies between providers, states and, most importantly, drivers.
Policyholders with minimal prior claims usually do not see rate changes associated with comprehensive claims. However, drivers who file several small claims are likely to be deemed “risky” and may see an increase.
Another aspect to consider: While the claim may not be your fault, similar types of claims may be on the rise in your area. If that’s the case, everyone who lives in the region may pay slightly more due to the increased risk insurers take on.
A good example is the sudden increase in the theft of Kias and Hyundais that began in 2022 after a social media video showed how easy it is to steal these vehicles due to their lack of an engine immobilizer — a standard manufacturer-installed theft deterrent in most cars sold in the U.S. in the past decade. To mitigate the risk of loss, many insurance companies increased the cost of comprehensive coverage for these vehicles, while others refused to insure them at all.
Frequently asked questions
Damage caused by vandalism is not covered by your car insurance unless your policy includes comprehensive coverage when the damage occurs. You cannot add comprehensive to your policy retroactively. It’s considered insurance fraud to add coverage after an accident or other vehicle loss and then file a claim for damage that occurred before the policy was effective. If you’re concerned about the risk of vandalism damage or other non-collision losses like theft, fire and weather hazards occurring in the future, it may be worth adding comprehensive coverage to your policy.
The average cost of full coverage car insurance is $2,014 per year as of 2023. Full coverage typically includes your state’s required liability coverage plus collision and comprehensive insurance. In contrast, minimum coverage costs an average of $622 per year.
However, the cost of your full coverage auto insurance policy will likely differ from the average, as car insurance rates are based on a range of factors, including the car you drive, your driving record, your location and more. If you’re trying to find the best car insurance policy at the most affordable price, it may benefit you to shop around and get quotes from a number of different insurance companies to compare costs and coverage options.
Comprehensive coverage provides protection for a wide range of events. If your auto policy includes comprehensive coverage, your insurance may cover damage resulting from natural disasters, fire, riots, vandalism, theft, falling objects and impacts with animals on the road. Each company’s coverage may differ slightly — for instance, some may include cracked windshields while others may not — so talk to your agent to clarify the specific coverage types included in your policy.
Vandalism is often a crime of opportunity, meaning that preventing it begins with reducing the opportunity for it to occur. Here are some tips to help protect your vehicle from vandalism:
- Always choose a garage or driveway for parking your car if possible. Additionally, park in areas with good lighting and try to park near other vehicles.
- When unoccupied, do not leave valuables clearly visible on your car seats, such as a phone, purse or wallet.
- Consider investing in a car alarm system.
- Remember to remove all belongings from your car and to lock it upon parking.