Jermaine Gilyard had just finished a long trucking shift transporting goods across the country. After spending two months in a freight truck driving to California and back, he was looking forward to relaxing for a few days before heading off again to work. He stopped by his mom’s house, picked up his Dodge Challenger, and headed to a friend’s house to sleep.
Come morning, Gilyard was about to get into his car to head home, when he realized that someone had scratched profanity into the left side of his car with a key.
“I was sad,” Gilyard recalls. “I worked hard to get that car.”
Once he processed what had happened, he called his insurance company, like anyone would. But then he realized something even worse: his roommate, whose policy he was on, had stopped paying the bill. Gilyard had no insurance on his car and ended up shelling out $2,500 to repair his car.
Keying isn’t the only type of car vandalism. There are several different types, and in some cases, insurance policies cover the cost to repair the damage.
Here’s what you need to know:
What’s considered vandalism?
Car vandalism is intentional damage done to the outside of your car.
That can mean smashed windows, slashed tires, graffiti, scratches from a key, and car egging.
Most car vandalism is random, meaning you might not even know the person who did the damage to your car.
But when you discover the vandalism, it’s important to file a police report. There’s a possibility the authorities can catch the perpetrator.
Does car insurance cover vandalism?
Yes, car insurance covers vandalism. But only if you have comprehensive insurance on your car insurance policy.
It covers any damage that happens to your car that wasn’t the result of a collision. In addition to vandalism, comprehensive insurance covers things like flooding, hail, fire, and theft.
But you should know that it doesn’t cover anything that’s stolen out of the car after the vandalism.
For example, if a perpetrator smashes your windshield and steals your briefcase out of the backseat, comprehensive insurance only covers the windshield.
If you have homeowners or renters insurance, that will cover the stolen items out of your vehicle.
How do you decide to file a claim or pay out of pocket?
So should you file a claim or pay out of pocket?
Before you decide on anything, think about what your deductible is. It could be the case that your deductible is more than the cost of the repairs themselves.
This means that even if you were to file a claim, the insurance company would make you pay your deductible toward the damage before giving you any funds.
For example, let’s look at Gilyard’s scratched car. It cost him $2,500 to get repaired. If he still had insurance and a comprehensive deductible of $1,000, he would’ve had to pay $1,000 for the repair before his insurance kicked into cover the remaining $1,500.
If the repairs cost less than your deductible, you should consider paying out of pocket instead. And if the repairs are just slightly above what you pay for your deductible? It’s probably best to pay out of pocket when that happens, too.
In the long run, it might be more cost effective for you. If you file a claim, there’s a high chance that they will raise your rates. And that’ll be more costly for you than paying for the repairs yourself.
What do you need to file a claim successfully?
But if you choose to file a claim, here’s what you’ll need:
- Your police report number
The first thing you should do is call the police. After filing a report, keep the report number on-hand to provide to your insurance company.
- Your insurance policy number
You will need to provide this to the insurance agent so they can pull up your policy to see what’s covered and what’s not.
- Photos of the damage
Being able to provide photos to your insurance company will help back up any claims you make about how extensive the damage might be. You can usually submit photos with your insurance claim.
- Quotes from the auto shop where you wish to have the repairs done
If your insurance company doesn’t require you to go to a specific auto shop, it pays to shop around for the best quote on how much the repairs will cost. Be sure to provide the best, most cost-effective quote in writing to your insurance company.
Five tips for preventing car vandalism
Being a victim of auto vandalism isn’t fun, so consider these five tips for preventing car vandalism:
1. Park in well-lit areas
It’s easy for a perpetrator to vandalize a car that’s hidden in a dark area — no one will be able to see them doing the damage.
So park your vehicle in a well-lit area. A criminal will be much more hesitant to commit a crime in an area where people can see them doing it.
2. Invest in a good security system
With today’s technology, there are all sorts of systems available to protect your vehicle from theft.
Things like loud car alarms and cameras can come in handy if someone is doing damage to your vehicle.
A loud siren might scare them off, and cameras can catch their identity while they’re committing the crime, making it easier for the police to track them down afterward.
3. Park your car in a garage
If you have access to a garage, parking your car inside it is a great way to prevent vandalism.
Car garages often have security cameras and are well-lit, making them a safe place to protect your vehicle.
4. Always lock your vehicle
This might seem like a given, but locking your car is the number one way to prevent it from being vandalized.
Locking your car even while doing something as simple as pumping gas is important — you never know when a criminal may be waiting for the perfect opportunity to commit a crime.
5. Don’t leave valuables inside your parked car
Remember that comprehensive coverage only covers damage to the exterior of your vehicle. This coverage doesn’t extend to any items stolen out of your car afterwards.
Even if you have renters insurance to cover items inside your car, don’t leave valuables or items of sentiment in your car — especially in plain sight.
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