Does home insurance cover vandalism?

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Most acts of vandalism occur in public spaces, according to a report by the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center. But private properties can also be targets, especially at night and if the property appears unattended.

You can hope for vandals to pass by your house, but if your house is ever vandalized, your home insurance may pay for the damage.

Here’s what to know about home insurance and when it might — or might not — pay to repair vandalism damage:

Does home insurance cover vandalism?

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

Good to know: If you can’t live in your home because it was damaged by vandalism, your insurance company may provide coverage for temporary living space and related living expenses while repairs are made.

Vandalism is a general type of risk covered by home insurance policies. Here 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, it can also cause erosion of building materials and siding. Home insurance can help cover professional cleaning and repair of this type of vandalism.
  • Fire/Fire: Home insurance also covers damage caused by fire if it is a peril listed on your policy. This provides protection if someone intentionally or unintentionally sets your home on fire or if the structure sustains fire damage from a natural cause.
  • Break the windows: Let’s say something throws a stone through the window of your house during a riot or a period of civil unrest in your area. Damage to your windows or the cost of replacement would be covered by your home insurance’s home coverage.
  • Damage to your mailbox, patio furniture or yard: Standard home insurance generally covers personal property damaged by a covered peril – in this case, vandalism.

The chart below shows the 16 perils typically covered by standard homeowner policies:

Check: An overview of cover in the event of loss of use

Warranty limits against vandalism

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

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

Be sure to read your policy carefully to determine what your limits and deductibles will be in the event of vandalism. Also be aware that you must pay your deductible before any coverage takes effect.

Learn more: What is home cover?

When does home insurance not cover vandalism?

Under certain circumstances, your home insurance policy does not cover vandalism. In this situation, you will need to plan ahead to extend your coverage or create a backup plan. Here are some specific scenarios where home insurance will not cover vandalism:

  • It is excluded from your policy. Vandalism can simply be excluded from the list of perils covered in your policy. Sometimes insurers include vandalism in extended coverage or limit the perils covered, so make sure your policy covers vandalism from the start.
  • Your accommodation is unoccupied for a long period of time. Home insurance policies will cover vacant homes, but some insurers place limits on how long a home can be vacant. If your home has been vacant for more than 60 days (in most states), your home insurance policy may be voided and vandalism will not be covered.
  • Vandalism of an unattached structure occurs on your property. If someone breaks into a detached garage or shed and causes damage, you may not be covered by a basic home insurance policy. However, an endorsement from other structures would extend coverage for this.

Learn more: Coverage of other structures: what is it and what does it cover?

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

Vandalism to a personal car can be just as serious as damage caused by vandalism to a home. If your car is parked in the driveway or even in your garage and it’s vandalized or broken into, that’s where the line between home insurance and auto insurance can seem blurred.

Home insurance won’t cover damage to your car caused by vandalism, even if it’s parked at home at the time – your car insurance’s full coverage would help pay for this damage. You must file a claim and pay your deductible before coverage takes effect. Deductibles for comprehensive auto insurance can be up to $2,000, but it depends on your policy and your limits.

A deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance pays for damages resulting from a covered peril. Generally, 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 under your policy’s personal property coverage.

Additional covers against vandalism

Typically, home insurance should cover damage caused by vandalism to your home, but this particular peril 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 generally reimburse either the replacement cost or the actual cash value. If vandals damage the structure of your home, cost new protection provides coverage to help you rebuild or repair your home using materials of a similar type and quality. Meanwhile, policies with actual cash value protection will take the depreciation into account and deduct it from the refund.
  • Complete car insurance: Comprehensive auto insurance will fill in the gaps to cover vandalism damage to your car.
  • Vacant home insurance: Since most carriers won’t insure a vacant home beyond 30-60 days, if you have a vacant property you may want to consider adding vacant home insurance and make sure it covers vandalism and acts of mischief..
  • Business property insurance: If you run a home-based business, check to see if your existing home insurance policy would cover damage caused by vandalism to your home-based business property. If there are any gaps, consider adding a commercial property endorsement to your policy.

How to file a claim for vandalism

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

  1. Start by assessing the damage. Examine what was damaged and take notes so you can provide details in your claim. Also take photos so that you can further validate your claim.
  2. File a police report. When you examine the damage, be sure to contact the police department to file a report immediately. This additional documentation can help authorities find the person responsible for the damage and also benefit your home insurance claim.
  3. Contact your insurance company and submit a claim. Then contact your home insurance company to see how you can file a claim. Provide as much information as possible, including the police report. When a claim is filed, the insurance provider will send an adjuster to your property to assess the damage and determine how much they should pay for repairs.
  4. Pay your deductible. Once you have successfully filed a claim and it has been approved, be sure to pay your deductible to allow coverage to take effect.

Vandalism is something you hope never happens to your home, but it’s important to be prepared for it with the right home insurance coverage. Use Credible to compare custom 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 wellness. His work has been featured on sites such as Business Insider, Lending Tree, Fox Business, RateGenius, and more.

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