We hope you’re not reading this several days after your car has been vandalized, because that could hinder your auto insurance claim. In order to qualify for insurance coverage for the vandalism, be aware you must have comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, since it is that portion of the policy that covers claims for incidents that don’t involve collisions.
Here’s what to do in case your car is vandalized:
- Call the police. Vandalism is a crime, and you need to treat it as such. Your insurance company needs to know that an official record has been filed so it can make the payment based on what happened. Ideally, you could have the officers meet you right after you’ve found your car vandalized. If you can’t do it immediately, do so within 24 hours.
- Keep your hands away from the damaged area. The police need to see your vehicle just as you found it so they can gather the evidence needed to make an arrest and provide prosecutors what they need to make a case. Okay, it’s not exactly like a CSI team is going to swoop down from helicopters, DNA kits in hand, to catch the perp. But suppose 14 other cars in the neighborhood have had similar damage in the past month. Yours might provide the crucial information necessary to end the crime spree.
- Take photos. If you’ve got a cell phone with a camera with you or a camera itself, take plenty of shots to document the damage. If the police say they’re too busy to check out your vandalized car, at least you have some evidence of your own for the insurance company to support your claim.
- Prevent further damage to the car. Once the police have done their inspection or you have documented all the damage, you will need to take some measures to keep your car from suffering more damage. Say someone broke a window in your car and the forecast calls for heavy rain. Put some temporary protection on the broken window area so your interior stays dry. Otherwise, expect to pay out of your own pocket to replace that waterlogged, moldy carpet.
- Report the incident to your insurance company. Do this as quickly as possible. In fact, it likely is a requirement of your policy that you report promptly. The insurance company needs to verify the incident and the more time that passes, the harder it is for them to do so.
Steps to Prevent Future Vandalism
While you can’t eliminate the threat of vandalism, you can reduce its likelihood. Ideally, you’d park your car in a closed and locked area. Short of that, you should try to park in an area that is well-lit and open. You can also buy a car cover if you expect your car to be a tempting target where you live.
And of course, don’t make it easy for thieves to enter your car. Lock the doors, roll up the windows so there’s not even a crack. Don’t leave anything of value in a visible place.