vandalism claims: how your car insurance can help

If your car is vandalized and you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy, you can file a claim through your insurer. We'll explain how to handle the post-vandalism process from initial realization (the low point) through your claim settlement (the high point).

reporting vandalism

You grab your coffee and head outside to your car only to find that it's been keyed or covered in graffiti. Not cool. Not cool at all.

What happens next?

Call the police

The first thing you want to do is call the police so you can file a report. Since it's not typically an emergency, call the non-emergency number of your local department.

Snap some pictures

It's not a bad idea to take pictures of the car so you can document the damage.

Contact your car insurance company

After you talk to the police, give your insurance company a call to see whether the damage is covered. If you're an Esurance customer and you want to file a claim through your comprehensive coverage, you can do so online, on your smartphone, or by calling 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) anytime.

Don't try to clean up

Don't move anything or try to clean up before reporting the incident. While it may not be a scene worthy of your local CSI, it's still a crime scene, so wait until the police give you the green light before you start tidying up. (Who knows, maybe your vandal left fingerprints.) The more info you have before you file a claim, the better.

vandalism and car insurance

Comprehensive coverage typically includes protection from vandalism, among other things.

Because vandalism may not cause a significant amount of financial damage, it's possible that your comprehensive deductible is higher than the cost of the damage itself. (For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible and the vandal causes $600 in damage, there's no need to file a claim.)

In any case, speak with your insurer about your options. If you're an Esurance customer with a deductible that's too high to cover the damage, we can still help you find a reliable repair shop through our E-star network.

5 tips to prevent vandalism

If you've had it with your neighborhood vandals or you've seen some damage in your neighborhood, there are some ways to protect your cherished ride from such indignity.

1. Park in well-lit areas

Most vandals won't want to mess with a car that's parked in a well-lit area, where they can be easily identified. You could also install a motion-sensitive light near your home to help ensure that your wheels aren't left in the dark, even overnight.

2. Avoid leaving your car in deserted areas

When parking your car for an extended period, opt for well-populated places (even if it means a busy lot) instead of deserted ones. Vandals don't like an audience.

3. Garage your car

If you've got a garage, use it. Keeping your car off the street (and even off the driveway) keeps it off of a vandal's radar.

4. Invest in a good car alarm

If your car isn't equipped with one, alarms can range from $150–$1,000. Most alarms have motion sensors that can prevent a would-be vandal from targeting your vehicle. Do plenty of online research to make sure you're getting your money's worth.

5. Set up security cameras

Granted, this one's more extreme and won't apply to most of us. But if you live in an area that's swarming with vandals who smash windows, key cars, and spray-paint rides, a well-placed security camera can work in 2 ways: by catching the criminal in action and by deterring them in the first place.

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