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Does car insurance cover vandalism?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Knowing that your car is well insured can take a lot of the stress out of driving, but what about when you’re away? Does car insurance cover vandalism? What about other damages that might occur to your vehicle when you aren’t in it? It can be a nasty shock if you go to your car only to discover that it’s been vandalized in your absence.

But what can you do? It’s not feasible for most of us to keep our vehicles locked away all day and night. Thankfully, there is a type of car insurance that covers vandalism and other non-collision type damages.

What is considered vandalism?

When it comes to cars, vandalism is any non-collision type damage caused intentionally by a person to the vehicle. Examples include everything from kicking a headlight to slashing a tire to smashing a window to keying the car. Damage caused inadvertently or by accident does not count as vandalism.

When is vandalism covered by car insurance?

Only with certain policy types does auto insurance cover vandalism. Does full coverage car insurance cover vandalism? No, it does not. Comprehensive car insurance is the only standard policy type that covers vandalism. But even when you have comprehensive car insurance, there are some key things to know. Specifically, it’s essential to determine if the cost of repairs will be greater than the deductible. Comprehensive insurance requires a deductible be met before payouts can begin. Below are the three requirements that determine when vandalism is covered:

  • The vehicle has comprehensive insurance
  • The deductible has been met
  • Some form of vandalism has occurred

Whether you come out to find that your car has a smashed windshield or long marks from keying along its side, comprehensive insurance will cover the damage. Not only does this type of insurance cover damages from car vandalism, but it will pay out in instances of other losses as well. Comprehensive insurance covers most kinds of harm that your vehicle can experience while parked, whether from vandalism or hail. 

Steps to take if your car has been vandalized

If the worst does happen and someone vandalizes your car, there is a simple process to follow. These steps aren’t mandatory, but they are a wise approach to an unpleasant situation. Before anything else, ensure your safety. If your vehicle is actively being vandalized, keep your distance and call the police, while making a note of any obvious visual descriptors of the vandals.

  • Assess and note the damage to your car. If it’s safe, walk around your vehicle and make a note of all the damages that have occurred. Even tiny scratches are worth documenting if you are sure that they weren’t there before. It’s helpful later on if you take pictures of the damage as well. Nothing fancy, just a few photos on your phone should be enough.
  • See if there are any witnesses or cameras. If anyone saw the vandals in action and is willing to talk to you, then take down their testimony. If you know that there are cameras in the area that might have caught the crime, then make a note of those. If it’s appropriate, you can ask the camera owner for a copy of the footage from the relevant time period. Otherwise, the police may request it later on.
  • Contact local law enforcement and file a police report. With all of the information gathered, it’s time to call the police and file a report. The police will want most, if not all, of the details and documentation that you’ve gathered up to this point.
  • Contact your insurance agent and file a claim. Once the police have your information and are working on the case, contact your auto insurance agent and notify them of everything that has progressed. Tell them about the vandalization and inform them that you have filed a police report. Your agent may want a copy of your documentation as well as of the police report. If you have comprehensive insurance, you will file a claim on the damages at this point.
  • Take your car in for repairs. All that’s left now is to have your car repaired while you wait on the police and the insurance company.

How to file a claim for car vandalism

In order to file your auto claim, you will need to document the damages to your vehicle thoroughly. This can be a purely written account, but including photos is preferred. Once you have these notations created, contact your auto insurance agent and inform them that your vehicle has been vandalized. Send them the information that you’ve gathered and ask to file a claim for the damages through your comprehensive insurance policy. They will ask you some questions and review your notes. After this, all that’s left is to wait on their determination and the check (if they approve the claim).

Filing a claim vs paying out of pocket

While comprehensive insurance can be a wallet-saver when your car is severely vandalized, sometimes it makes more sense to pay out of pocket. Every claim filed on an insurance policy is likely to see a rise in that policy’s premium costs. In situations where the car damage is minimal and cheap to repair, paying out of pocket can end up saving you money in the long term. Especially when you take deductibles into account. If the cost of repairs isn’t significantly higher than your deductible, it may be wiser to avoid filing a claim.

Tips for preventing car vandalism

Insurance isn’t the only way to protect your car from vandalism. There are several steps you can take to make your vehicle safer. While each of these tips can help protect your vehicle, none of them guarantee that your car won’t be vandalized. The overall best assurance is to keep your car parked in a locked garage. That said, these tips can be effective, and they are more so when done together.

Park in a well-lit spot

Parking your car in a well-lit spot can help to deter people from approaching it with malicious intent. Setting up some motion sensor lights nearby can go a long way towards making people feel seen and exposed if they come near your vehicle while you’re away.

Park near cameras

Visible cameras have a strong deterrence on crimes. Still, even if the camera is hidden, it can help you to identify the culprits if your car is vandalized. In places like parking garages where you cannot place your own camera, look for cameras that the company has set and try to park within view of them.

Park in a high-visibility area

Consider parking your car where it will stay in plain sight of many people. Your vehicle is less likely to be vandalized while it’s being watched. This tip is easy enough during the day, but it can be tricky at night. Still, the better frequented and brighter the area, the less likely your car is to be targeted.

Make sure you have car alarms

Car alarms can prove a strong deterrent, but they aren’t always sensitive enough to go off during vandalism. Try to make sure that your car alarm has a visible component that can serve as a warning. Many car alarms include blinking red lights that install atop the dash for this very reason.

The takeaway

  • Comprehensive car insurance is the only type of insurance that covers vandalism.
  • A deductible must be met before insurance pays for vandalism.
  • Full coverage car insurance does not cover vandalism.

When it comes to protecting your vehicle, there are many options. However, if you’re worried about vandalism, comprehensive auto insurance is the only type that will safeguard you. If you’ve taken steps to reduce the risk of your car being vandalized, but you’re still concerned, a comprehensive car insurance policy can be a smart move. If you’re unsure about adding to your premiums by buying more insurance, consider reading our article on the cost of car insurance.

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