The Insurance Bulletin
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Does Car Insurance Cover Vandalism?

person keying car

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Eric Rosenberg
Updated October 6, 2022
4 Min Read

Arguably the worst thing that can happen to a car owner is an accident, as both physical safety and property are at risk from a collision. A close second may be parking your car somewhere you believe is safe, only to return to a damaged vehicle from a vandal that’s come and gone.

Whether your vehicle is keyed by someone targeting you personally or you fall victim of a random attack that left your window smashed or side mirror in shambles, you’ll be glad you had good car insurance to cover the damage. Learn more about how car insurance covers vandalism here.

What is car vandalism?

Car vandalism is a property crime where someone purposely damages another person’s car maliciously. As vehicle damage can be extremely expensive to repair, even when it’s just cosmetic, car vandalism can be costly to the vehicle owner.

The likelihood of falling victim to vehicle vandalism varies by location, parking conditions, and type of vehicle. A fancy sports car parked on a low-traffic street in an industrial area may be a more likely target than a typical family sedan in a garage. That’s part of why parking location and vehicle features influence car insurance rates.

If you’ve recently become a victim of car vandalism, you may want to know: does car insurance cover vandalism? In the next section, we’ll answer that question in detail.

Does car insurance cover vandalism?

In most cases, yes, car insurance covers vandalism. You can check your specific policy documents or review documents for a new policy to understand your specific vandalism coverage and limits. If you have any questions, contact your insurance company or agent to find out exactly what’s covered and what’s excluded.

When filing a car vandalism claim, plan on paying up to your deductible. If you have a high deductible, paying for the entire repair yourself may make more sense than filing a claim. If you have a low deductible or extensive damage, an insurance claim may be the best financial decision.

Like an auto accident or tree branch falling on your car during a storm, vandalism is certainly unexpected property damage that can be expensive to fix. That’s what insurance is designed for. Car insurance is here to help with those large costs, so you don’t have to bear the entire financial burden yourself.

Will a vandalism claim raise my car insurance rates?

Insurance rates are complex, and each insurer uses its own proprietary formula to calculate what each customer will pay for each vehicle. A vandalism claim could result in a rate increase. According to one large insurer, rates may increase after a vandalism claim, even if the car owner had no control over the damage or incident.

If you have high auto insurance rates from a vandalism claim or anything else, it may be worthwhile to shop around for the best coverage for your needs. Shopping around periodically can help you ensure you have the ideal coverage and are not overpaying.

How to file a car insurance claim for vandalism

When you find your car has been vandalized, you have two important phone calls to make right away. Even if it’s inconvenient, it’s worthwhile to take the time to deal with the situation immediately. A delay in reporting the incident may lead to problems with a future insurance claim.

  1. Contact the police: The first call you should make is to your local police or sheriff's department non-emergency number. Don’t call 911 unless you are in danger or need emergency medical assistance. Work with the police to file a police report. You’ll need a copy of that report for your insurance company later on in the process.
  2. Contact your insurance company: Call your insurance agent or the number on your insurance card to report the damage to your insurer. Even if you end up dropping the claim, getting your insurer involved may help with repairs and getting the right documentation in place.

Most states require every driver to carry proof of insurance. You should have insurance documents easily available in your glove compartment or another safe place in your car, so you can always reach your insurer in case of an accident (or vandalism) or provide proof of coverage if you’re stopped by the police.

Filing a vandalism claim vs. paying out of pocket

If your car is damaged, you may want to avoid filing a claim to prevent an increase in insurance rates. This is a valid consideration. Here are some pros and cons of filing an insurance claim for vandalism to consider.

If the damage is well above your deductible, filing a claim usually makes sense. For example, if you have a $250 or $500 deductible and the vehicle suffers thousands of dollars in damage, paying your deductible and letting insurance pick up the rest is likely the prudent decision.

On the other hand, if you have a $1,000 deductible and $900 in damage, you wouldn’t want to file a claim, as you would have to cover the entire cost in your deductible anyway.

Things are trickier when your damage is above your deductible but not by much. If you have $1,500 in damage and a $1,000 deductible, it could make sense to pay out of pocket for the full repairs, even though insurance would have paid the last $500. Why? Because higher insurance rates could add up to more than $500, depending on the incident.

If you’re not sure what to do, discuss the situation with a trusted insurance agent or financial professional to weigh out what makes the most sense for your unique needs.

Don’t let car vandalism wreck your finances

Car vandalism is an expensive crime, but it doesn’t have to send you to bankruptcy. With a quality insurance policy in place, you never have to pay more than your deductible, even in the event of catastrophic destruction.

Vandalism is covered by car insurance in most cases, up to policy limits. Review your car insurance today to ensure you have the coverage you need.