Does Car Insurance Cover Vandalism?

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Car vandalism (Photo: @Mehaniq via Twenty20)
Discovering your car with a smashed windshield or a keyed-up side in the parking lot is no way to end a hard day of work. Same goes for another brand of vandalism, such as graffiti or stolen hubcaps. Regardless of the vandal’s modus operandi, you are the one left to deal with the aftermath.
In such a case, it’s natural to wonder: Does car insurance cover vandalism? Generally, vandalism is only covered by car insurance policies with comprehensive coverage. So, if you have liability insurance, you’re most likely out of luck.

What qualifies as vandalism

The ways a person could choose to vandalize a vehicle are nearly without limit, but some damage is just accidental while other harm befalling your car can be done with criminal intent. Here are some signs that a vandal may be responsible for the undesirable state of your vehicle:
  • Broken glass
  • Busted headlights or tail lights
  • Dents
  • Foreign substance like eggs or paint
  • Graffiti
  • Key marks or other scratches
  • Slashed tires
  • Snapped antennae or hood ornament
If one or more of these situations suddenly applies to you, you are likely a victim of vandalism.

What to do if you are a victim of vandalism

After you calm down with a few deep breaths, document the crime as fully as you can. Take photos or video of your car from all angles. It’s also advisable to photograph or video the area surrounding your vehicle in case there is a clue that isn’t immediately recognized. This documentation can help both the authorities and your insurance company while handling your case.
Call the police. Even if the damage to your vehicle is relatively minor, the person responsible should be brought to justice. You may also need a police report to provide to your car insurance to cover the vandalism. Don’t try to move the vehicle or clean it up until after the police report has been made and you’ve been cleared to do so because your car is technically evidence of a crime.
Call your insurer and ask about vandalism coverage as well. While the general rule is that only a comprehensive policy protects against damage of this nature, your policy might be the rare exception. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If your car is covered, let your agent guide you through the claims process.

How to prevent vandalism

Most of vandalism prevention is common sense. Here are some ways to best protect your car from vandals:
Be aware of where you park. When you can’t park your car in the garage, look for the safest places to leave your car unattended. Look for places that are well-lit. If security cameras are also present, that’s a bonus.
Install an alarm system. Just having a sticker indicating there’s an alarm system serves as a deterrent to criminals. Of course, having a fully working alarm system is better. That way, if someone attempts to do something to your car, the alarm will go off and draw attention to their activities.
Look to your neighbors. Join the neighborhood watch or start one yourself. That way, there are more eyes on each others’ property. The signs that your neighborhood is protected in this manner serves as a deterrent, too.
Ultimately, do what you can to prevent vandalism, but be aware that it can happen even with protection. If you fall victim to vandalism, stay calm and take care of the situation step by step. If you’re lucky, your car insurance policy covers vandalism. If it doesn’t, count your blessings that only your property was damaged.