Vandalism and Car Insurance

Life was great until you found out that some ill-intentioned person defaced your car in an act of vandalism. How should you handle this deliberate damage to your property?

Although you might feel like you have little recourse for dealing with this situation, your car insurance may be able to help. Here's what you should know about your coverage and how to respond to property destruction.

What Happens After a Vandalism Event?

What's the first thing you should do after discovering that someone has keyed your car or smashed its windows? Always start by reporting the incident to your local police, calling your insurer and documenting what happened in exact detail.

Take pictures and write down any seemingly incidental facts about what happened. Record the police report number and information like your VIN. Your policy provider will likely want to know these facts when you file a claim.

Some drivers wonder whether calling their insurance company is worth the effort, but it's usually your best option to get compensated for the damage. Even if the authorities catch the perpetrator, you might have to go to court to get them to pay restitution for your losses. If you don't know who committed the crime, you'll probably have to find surveillance footage that depicts the incident as it occurred, wait for a police investigation and jump through other hoops.

It's also possible that a judge will not award you anything in the way of restitution, which could force you to file a civil suit. Even if your vehicle incurred extensive damage, it's often more cost-effective and timely to file a claim with your policy provider.

How Does Car Insurance Cover Vandalism?

In most cases, car insurance companies cover intentional property destruction through comprehensive coverage (an optional coverage). Providers place such events in the same category as things like running into a deer, getting hit by hail or suffering fire damage.

This attitude makes sense because the incident wasn't your fault. The only problem is that many people abuse it by filing fraudulent claim actions for property destruction that wasn't actually caused by mysterious unknown parties. As such, auto insurance adjusters go to great pains to verify that your claim is genuine, which may place an increased burden of proof on your shoulders.

Dealing with Your Insurer

The prevalence of fraud in vandalism and theft claims only highlights the need to document your incident as diligently as possible. The more evidence you can provide, the likelier your insurer is to process your claim quickly. Although there's no guarantee that they won't become suspicious of your claim's validity, experts note that documenting as much as possible may help.

For example, suppose that a third party, like a parking garage company, was storing your car when the incident occurred. You should demand copies of any paperwork that they ask you to complete. You also ought to make a note of the contact information for anyone you speak to and any items that were missing from the vehicle when you discovered it.

After talking to the police, always remember to call your auto insurance provider immediately. It might provide you with a list of necessary items that you'll require to streamline the claim process, which could make it a lot easier to get things done.

Be sure that you know how your deductible works before you begin the repair process. Different types of comprehensive claims come with distinct deductibles, so don't commit to paying before reviewing your terms with your auto insurance agent. Get an estimate to find out how much your policy will shell out first, and ask whether your provider might give you a discount for going to one of their preferred repair garages.

Discovering acts of vehicle vandalism could potentially ruin your day, but having a strategy makes it easier to maintain a positive attitude. Understand your car insurance terms and what you need to do in case of an incident to improve the chances of your claim's approval.