Published: January 7, 2022Updated: September 1, 2022

Car Vandalism Coverage: Should I File a Claim?

If your repairs are less than your deductible, is filing a claim worth it?

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If your car is vandalized, you may be wondering if car insurance covers the damage to your vehicle, or if filing a claim with your insurance company is even worth it. We’ll help you make that decision and educate you on auto vandalism and insurance in general.

Vandalism Coverage

Before we discuss vandalism coverage, let’s define what auto vandalism is in the first place.

What Is Auto Vandalism?

Auto vandalism is whenever anyone intentionally damages or defaces your car. It does not include damage from weather, potholes, or auto burglary.

What is auto vandalism?

Auto Vandalism Examples

Here are some different types of auto vandalism:

  • Slashed tires
  • Broken windows
  • Keyed cars
  • Broken taillights, headlights, or windows
  • Spray paint damage
  • Dents
  • Sugar or other substances in the gas tank

When Does Auto Insurance Cover Vandalism?

Vandalism coverage is not usually available on its own but included under the umbrella of comprehensive coverage. While property damage liability, required by every state except New Hampshire, covers damages that you or another driver made to your car or another piece of property, it doesn’t cover vandalism, as the vandal isn’t another driver but a pedestrian. In sum, auto insurance covers vandalism only if you have comprehensive coverage.

NOTE

Aside from vandalism, comprehensive coverage includes damages from weather conditions like hail, fires, floods, and falling rocks.

Is Vandalism Coverage Necessary?

No states require comprehensive auto insurance coverage, but many people choose to get it if they have newer cars. However, if you have an older car, it’s probably not necessary. Of course, the amount of car insurance you need beyond your state’s minimum coverage is your decision.

What to Do if Your Vehicle Is Vandalized

If your vehicle is vandalized, follow these steps:

  1. Record the damage. Note the damage to your car and see if anything has been stolen from it. Take pictures of everything as evidence.
  2. File a police report. Call the police and have them make a report, which you can include in your claim. Learn more about claims and police reports.
  3. File a claim. If you choose to file a claim, contact your insurance agent and give them all of the information you have, including the police report, photos, and notes. Read more about what an insurance claim is and how long the car insurance claims process takes.
  4. Repair the damages. Finally, repair the damages, whether that means fixing them yourself or taking the car to a repair shop. If you have a broken window, we recommend putting tape or plastic around it until you can get it fully repaired. As for keyed cars, cover the scratch with a temporary clear coat, plastic, or fabric to protect it from the elements.1

Car Insurance and Vandalism

When your car gets vandalized, you might consider filing a claim with your insurance provider, or paying for repairs out of pocket. Which option is best to minimize the cost of your auto insurance?

Will a Vandalism Claim Raise Car Insurance Rates?

Unfortunately, vandalism could negatively impact the cost of car insurance, raising your premiums even if it wasn’t your fault.

Should You File a Vandalism Claim?

If your vandalism repair costs are lower than your comprehensive deductible, it makes sense to avoid filing a claim and simply pay out of pocket.

FYI

Deductibles for comprehensive coverage can range from $0 all the way up to $2,000.

How to Prevent Auto Vandalism

We have a few recommendations to help you avoid auto vandalism in the first place:

  1. Park in open, well-lit, and populated areas.
  2. Avoid parking near trucks, dumpsters, or anything else that obstructs visibility, as this could make it easier for someone to vandalize your car without getting caught.
  3. Don’t park near loitering people or anyone sitting in vehicles.
  4. If possible, park in garages rather than on streets, in alleys, or in driveways.
  5. Try not to park in public for extended periods if you can avoid it.2
  6. Lock your garages and gates at all times.
  7. Install good lighting around your house3; motion-activated lights are ideal.

how to prevent auto vandalism

Car Vandalism Statistics

While the FBI tracks motor vehicle theft, a cousin to auto vandalism, it doesn’t track vandalism rates. As a result, there’s no reliable and recent national data on auto vandalism, but we found a few interesting statistics from years past:

  • A study that covered 2008 through 2012 found that on Halloween, the number of daily vandalism claims increased by more than 81 percent from the daily average. The other holidays with the highest rates of auto vandalism were the Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
  • During the same time period, the average cost of an auto vandalism claim was $1,528.
  • The most common month for auto insurance claims is July, followed by August, then June.
  • The most common day for auto vandalism to take place is Saturday, followed by Sunday4.

Recap

Depending on the size of your deductibles and premium, comprehensive coverage, which covers vandalism, may or may not be worth your while. However, we recommend a comprehensive coverage policy if you have a new or relatively new car. The truth is that damage doesn’t just come from other drivers, but from everything around you, from weather conditions to pedestrians.

To learn about other types of coverage, read our guides to rental cars coverage, collision coverage, and gap coverage. You may have also heard about full coverage. While this isn’t a legitimate term that auto insurance underwriters use in policies, it generally means coverages like medical payments coverage or personal injury protection, uninsured motorist coverage, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage in addition to the required liability coverage. Compare full coverage vs. liability head-to-head.

FAQs

Our readers have flooded us with questions about auto vandalism, a topic that doesn’t get discussed enough. We’ve answered your most common questions below.

The type of auto insurance that covers vandalism is comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage includes damages from things other than drivers, such as hail, potholes, and vandalism.

Vandalism is only covered if you have comprehensive coverage. Property damage only covers damages from other drivers, not vandalism.

ake these steps if your car is vandalized:

  1. Write down all of the damages.
  2. Take pictures.
  3. File a police report.
  4. File a claim with your insurance provider that includes the police report, notes, and photos. If the repair costs are less than your comprehensive deductible, pay for the repairs out of pocket.
  5. Get your car repaired.
  6. If you filed a claim and it’s covered, get reimbursed for the repairs.

Most likely, yes, your car insurance will go up after a vandalism claim. That’s why it’s not worth it to file a claim if the repair costs are less than your comprehensive deductible.

Citations

  1. Does car insurance cover vandalism? Progressive. (2021).
    https://www.progressive.com/answers/does-car-insurance-cover-vandalism/

  2. VEHICLE SECURITY AND RELATED TIPS. sandiego.gov. (2017, Sept 29).
    https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/vehiclesecurity_1.pdf

  3. Crime Prevention Tips. mishawaka.in.gov.
    http://mishawaka.in.gov/sites/default/files/policedepartment/PreventingVandalism.pdf

  4. Vandalism. Highway Loss Data Institute. (2013, Sept).
    https://www.iihs.org/media/3348eb2c-58ee-4604-9c1a-afc989454799/KAubNA/HLDI%20Research/Bulletins/hldi_bulletin_30.25.pdf