Does home insurance cover vandalism?

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According to a report by the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, most vandalism takes place in public spaces. But private property can also be targets, especially at night and when the property appears unguarded.

You may hope that vandals pass your home, but if your home is ever vandalized, your homeowners insurance policy can cover the damage.

Here’s what you need to know about homeowners insurance and when it should or shouldn’t pay to repair damage caused by vandalism:

Does home contents insurance cover vandalism?

A standard homeowners insurance policy covers damage to your home caused by vandalism, riots and disturbances. This protection is provided under the home coverage aspect of your policy which covers the structure of your home, including built-in appliances and attached structures such as a patio or porch. This means that your insurance company will pay to repair or replace the damaged structure of your home.

Good to know: If you are unable to live in your home because it has been damaged by vandalism, your insurance company can provide cover for temporary housing and related living expenses while repairs are made.

Vandalism is a type of general hazard covered by homeowners insurance policies. Below are some types of vandalism incidents that would be covered by a basic policy:

  • Graffiti and spray paint: Graffiti and spray paint on a residential home is not only unpleasant to look at, but it can also lead to erosion of building materials and siding. Home insurance can help professionally clean up and repair this type of vandalism.
  • Arson/fire: Home insurance also covers fire damage if it is a hazard that is stated on your policy. This offers protection if someone deliberately or unintentionally sets your home on fire or if the structure sustains fire damage due to natural causes.
  • Break windows: Let’s say something throws a rock through your house window during a riot or period of civil unrest in your area. The damage to your windows or replacement costs are covered by your home insurance.
  • Damage to your letterbox, patio furniture or garden: Standard homeowners insurance typically covers personal property damaged by a covered risk — vandalism in this case.

The image below shows the 16 hazards typically covered by standard homeowner policies:

Checking out: An Overview of Loss of Use Coverage

Vandalism Coverage Limits

Every home insurance policy has a coverage limit that you typically set when you first get coverage. Insurance companies will cover a risk listed in your policy (such as vandalism) up to the amount of cover you purchased.

For home coverage, it’s a good idea to have enough coverage to cover the cost of completely rebuilding your home. In some cases, vandalism coverage limits are a percentage of your total coverage limit, depending on your home insurance and policy details.

Be sure to read your policy thoroughly to determine your limits and deductibles for vandalism. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to pay your deductible before coverage kicks in.

Learn more: What is home cover?

When does home insurance not cover vandalism?

There are situations in which your home contents insurance does not cover vandalism. In this situation, you want to plan ahead to extend your coverage or create a backup plan. Here are a few specific scenarios where home insurance doesn’t cover vandalism:

  • It is excluded from your policy. You can easily exclude vandalism from the list of covered hazards in your policy. Sometimes insurers include vandalism as comprehensive coverage or limit the hazards they cover, so make sure your policy covers vandalism from the get-go.
  • Your home will be vacant for a longer period of time. Home insurance covers vacant homes, but some carriers set limits on how long a home can be vacant. If your home is vacant for more than 60 days (in most states), your home insurance policy may be canceled and vandalism will not be covered.
  • Vandalism of a detached construction occurs on your property. If someone breaks into an unattached garage or shed and causes damage there, you may not be covered by basic home insurance. However, an adoption of another structure would extend the coverage for this.

Learn more: Coverage of other structures: what it is and what it covers

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Does home insurance cover vandalism if my car is in a garage?

Vandalism to a passenger car can be just as bad as vandalism damage to a house. If your car is parked in the driveway or even in your garage and is vandalized or broken into, the lines between home insurance and auto insurance can seem blurry.

Home insurance will not cover damage to your car due to vandalism, even if it is currently parked at home – the comprehensive coverage of your car insurance policy would help pay for this damage. You must make a claim and pay your deductible before coverage starts. Deductibles for comprehensive auto insurance can be as high as $2,000, but it depends on your policies and limits.

A deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance pays out damage as a result of a covered peril. In general, the higher your deductible, the lower your insurance premium will be.

However, if items are stolen from your car parked on your property, home insurance may cover the cost of replacing the stolen items as part of your personal property coverage.

Additional Vandalism Coverage

In general, homeowners insurance should cover vandalism damage to your home, but this particular danger isn’t always black and white. You may want to consider these additional coverage options to ensure complete protection if your home is vandalized:

  • Replacement Cost Protection: Home insurance policies typically pay replacement costs or actual cash value as compensation. If vandals damage the structure of your home, the replacement cost provides coverage to help you rebuild or repair your home using materials of the same type and quality. Meanwhile, true cash value protection policies will account for depreciation and deduct it from the refund.
  • Comprehensive car insurance: Comprehensive auto insurance fills the gaps to cover vandalism damage to your car.
  • Vacancy insurance: Since most carriers won’t insure a vacant home after 30 to 60 days, consider adding a vacant home insurance policy if you have a vacant home and make sure it covers vandalism and mischief..
  • Business contents insurance: If you run a home business, check to see if your existing home insurance policy covers damage caused by vandalism to your home business. If there are gaps, consider adding a business property approval to your policy.

How to file a claim for vandalism

Vandalism to your home and the items in your home should always result in a timely response by filing a claim with your home insurance company:

  1. Start by assessing the damage. See what’s damaged and take notes so you can include details in your claim. Also take pictures so you can further validate your claim.
  2. File a report with the police. When investigating the damage, contact the police to file a report immediately. This additional documentation can help authorities locate the person responsible for the damage and may also benefit your home insurance claim.
  3. Contact your insurance company and file a claim. Then contact your home insurance company to see how to file a claim. Provide as much information as possible, including the police report. When a claim is made, the insurance company will send an expert to your property to assess the damage and determine how much it should pay for repairs.
  4. Pay your deductible. After you have successfully submitted a claim and it has been approved, you must pay your deductible for the coverage to take effect.

Vandalism is something you hope never happens to your home, but it’s important to be prepared for it with proper home insurance coverage. Use Credible to compare personalized rates from over 40 insurers.

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About the author

Chonce Maddox Rhea

Chonce Maddox Rhea

Choncé is a freelance personal finance writer who enjoys writing about mortgages, student loans and helping people achieve financial well-being. Her work has been featured on sites like Business Insider, Lending Tree, Fox Business, RateGenius, and more.

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