When most people think of car insurance, they often consider how it protects their car in the event of an accident. But what happens if you discover that someone destroyed your vehicle with their own two hands?
Unlike a car accident, vandalism is not an accident – it is an intentional act. The goal could have been to steal something from your back seat. Or maybe it was just to be strong. In either case, vandalism can quickly put your car into operation.
Unfortunately, in most vandalism cases, the culprit often disappears. But that does not mean that you are left helpless after someone has put your car together.
What does vandalism look like?
Like all other times your vehicle is damaged, it is a good first step to assess the situation. A broken window does not necessarily mean that someone took a crowbar to the glass. You will find that there are subtle (and not so subtle) differences between security and criminal damage.
If you are not sure what caused the wreck, here are some signs of vandalism:
- Eggs thrown at the car
- Pointed or scratched paint
- Broken windows or mirrors
- Spray paint
- Busted headlights
- Snapped antennas
- Broken windows
- Rusted tires
If you encounter any of these warning signs, you are likely a victim of vandalism.
How do you prevent vandalism?
Vandalism can be a random act. But it's usually a bit of strategy on the part of the criminal. As unpredictable as the crime is, you can take action to deter vandals or prevent them from doing further damage.
These methods have been shown to help prevent your car from being targeted:
- Keep it in the garage . Park your car in a garage if possible. Most criminals are focused on easily accessible cars, so an extra barrier between your vehicle will act as a deterrent. This advice applies at home and to public parking garages.
- Park in the light . If your car is more visible, then it is the person who vandalizes it. If you can not park in a garage, try to leave your car in a well-lit, open area. If you park outside at home, you may want to consider adding a motion sensor light near your driveway. The candles will set the criminal clearly and make them less likely to stay.
- Installing an alarm . Consider an alarm system to send the culprit running. They will not stay long when the horns start to blow. In fact, even the thought of an alarm being dropped may even be enough to scare someone away. Fake criminals with a flashing light or security sticker if a new system is not in your budget.
- Rally the Neighborhood . Ask your neighbors to help keep watch if you suspect you are a criminal. An extra set of eyes can lead to an eyewitness. And it is also in their best interest, because their cars are also in danger.
- Avoid Dangerous Areas . High crime areas are generally not a safe place to park overnight. Do not leave your car in an unknown area if you can help it, especially if others have had their cars vandalized recently.
Does car insurance cover vandalism?
If you have the right car insurance, you will usually be covered for vandalism. Extensive coverage can pay for damages that occur outside of a car accident, such as vandalism, fire or theft minus your deductible. Your deductible is how much money you have to pay to fix or repair your car before your insurance starts.
This coverage, as well as collision coverage, may be needed by your lender if you still owe money on your car. It is optional if you own your vehicle directly. However, given the cost of repairing a vandalized vehicle, it may be unwise to go without it. Your local ERIE agent can help you decide how much coverage is most meaningful to you.
Repair costs will vary depending on the make and model of the car and the extent of the damage. Without the right protection, you pay for these repairs out of pocket.
With ERIE, comprehensive coverage can help cover expenses for fixing broken locks, windows and anything else that the culprit decided to smash. Check with your local agent to see if your policy covers vandalism and what else you can do to protect your investment.
What to do when your car is vandalized
Garage or no garage, vandals can always find ways to make a mess if they are persistent. Once your car is covered in scratches and spray paint, there are some steps you can take to make the claim process as quick and easy as possible. Take these steps to make sure you are covered:
- Document the scene . Record the damage with photos, videos and notes. You may be overlooking important details at the moment, and they will come in handy with the authorities and your insurance company.
- Do not touch anything . Your car becomes evidence once it has been vandalized, so be sure to keep things as they are. If you try to fix the damage yourself, it can make things worse and affect the police report.
- Register a police report . Submitting an application without a police report may look suspicious to an insurance company. Call the police to register the crime. Remember to request a copy for yourself to use when applying.
- Call your agent . Contact your insurance company to file a claim and be sure to send all available information. They can send a damage control to assess the damage. In that case, keep in touch with your agent so that you know what your next steps are.
- Get it repaired . During the damage process, you must transport your car to a safe place in the same condition as you found it. If your car is unsafe to drive, have it towed to a body and leave repairs to the pros.
What if I need a rental car?
While your car is being painted and repaired, you may need a clean set of wheels.
In most states, ERIE's comprehensive coverage automatically includes basic car rental coverage ̵
This coverage varies depending on the permit, so ask your insurance agent about car rental coverage before you are in a situation where you need it. In most states, you are covered for a rental for up to 45 days. (Virginia and North Carolina work differently.) Learn more about car insurance and car rental.
Reset your safe haven
From your driver's seat adjustment to the feel of the steering wheel, your car is your safe haven on the road. Vandalism can disrupt that sense of security, but it does not have to stop you from coming back to your life.
Erie Insurance responds to crisis with care and fast service to get you where you want to be. We will provide practical help, reliable solutions and service that exceeds your expectations.
Contact your local ERIE insurance agent to help recover what was lost – and get back to your life.