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What to Do When Your Car is Broken Into or Vandalized

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If someone has vandalized or broken into your car, the first steps you need to take are to document the damage and file a police report. Your auto insurance policy will cover vandalism if you've added comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance policy, but it will typically only pay for damages after you've paid your policy's deductible. Any personal property you've had stolen from your car will not be covered by your comprehensive policy. Instead, you'll need to file a claim under your renters or homeowners insurance policy to receive reimbursement for those items.

Steps to Take When Someone Breaks Into or Vandalizes Your Car

Before you can get your car repaired or file any claims, you need to evaluate and document all damage done to your vehicle, so that you know how best to respond. Contact the police to see if they'll dispatch an officer to assess the scene, then follow these steps:

Document the Damage.

Before you clean up any paint or broken glass, photograph all damage done to your car. This documentation may be required to file a police report, and it will help you defend your claim with your insurance company.

Make a List of Stolen Items.

If someone smashed your window, they were probably seeking personal items in your car. Run through everything you had in your vehicle and make a list of anything that is missing, including personal documents you might have stored in the car’s glove compartment. Submit this list when you file your police report and homeowners or renters insurance claim. If any sensitive documents were stolen, such as those that list details for a bank account or credit card, consider setting up a fraud alert with the credit bureaus and freezing your credit card and bank accounts.

File a Police Report.

Vandals often target multiple cars in an area, stealing property and causing a significant amount of damage. Your local police department may need to know about your case in order to investigate a broader crime. Additionally, your insurance company will usually require a police report in order to process any claim you file. Call the police and ask if they'll come assess the damage. If not, you may need to file a report at a local station or over the phone. To file a report, you'll need the following information:

  • Photographs of the damage
  • Your driver's license
  • Your vehicle's registration information
  • Your insurance card or policy declaration page
  • The approximate date and time of the theft or vandalism
  • A detailed list of any property that was stolen

Get a Quote and Calculate Whether Filing a Claim Makes Sense.

Contact your insurance agent or take your car to a reputable body shop to get an estimate of how much the repairs will cost. Even if you do have comprehensive coverage as part of your car insurance policy, you'll probably have to pay a deductible before you're reimbursed any money. If the repair costs don't substantially exceed your deductible, and you haven't already paid money towards your deductible in another claim filed this year, paying for the repairs yourself might make more sense. If you do choose to file a claim, your insurance company will often send an insurance adjuster out to assess the damage and recommend an auto body shop where you can have your repairs done.

Regardless of whether you file a claim or pay for your repairs out-of-pocket, you should get any glass damage repaired as soon as possible. Not only does a broken window prevent you from locking your doors, but driving with broken glass can lead to injury and further damage as well.

Does Car Insurance Cover Vandalism & Theft

If you've added comprehensive insurance as part of your auto insurance policy, you should be protected from any form of vandalism or car theft. However, comprehensive policies typically come with a deductible that you'll have to pay before the policy kicks in. Because of this deductible, it might make more financial sense to pay for the repairs yourself.

For example, say someone smashes your windshield, and it will cost $550 to replace. Your comprehensive coverage includes a $500 deductible, so you could receive a $50 reimbursement from your car insurance company. However, that claim might cause your insurer to increase your insurance rates for the next three years, and those increased rates could quickly eclipse the $50 you would receive from your insurance company. So you decide to pay for the replacement windshield yourself.

In certain cases, such as when you discover a minor chip in your windshield, your repairs might be covered without any deductible. For example, GEICO will waive your deductible for glass repairs when a crack is shorter than a dollar bill and chips are smaller than a quarter. This is to encourage you to get these repairs done as soon as you detect them, in order to prevent them from causing additional, and more costly,damage.

Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover Stolen Items?

While comprehensive insurance does cover damage from a break in, and when your car itself is stolen, it doesn't cover personal items that are stolen from your car. Instead, these items are covered by your homeowners or renters insurance policy. However, as with comprehensive coverage, your home or renters insurance policy will come with its own deductible. It will only make sense to file a claim, then, if you've lost items of substantial value, such as a laptop.

If you want to file a claim for stolen items, make sure those items are listed on your police report and follow the same steps you would for a car insurance claim, above.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Broken Window or Keyed Car

Vandalism is a common and often expensive form of damage for car owners. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, the average cost of a vandalism claim is $1,528. However, this amount reflects only those incidents for which car owners choose to file a claim with their insurance companies—which are typically those with the most expensive repairs. Additionally, this amount varies based on a number of factors, which include:

  • The car you drive
  • Whether you're repairing or replacing a part of the car
  • The type of glass you may need
  • Whether your windows are automatic or manually opened
  • The cost of labor in your region

Chipped glass, or a crack that is under six inches long, is usually easy to fix, and can often be done in under 30 minutes. Other damage, such as a smashed windshield or a door that is riddled with dents, might require a replacement part, which will increase the cost of repairs, especially if you own a luxury or high-tech vehicle.

Here are the approximate costs to repair acts of vandalism.

Damage/RepairsTypical Cost
New paint job$300 to $1,000
Chipped glass$20 to $60
Replacement window$100 to $200
Replacement windshield$120 to $1,000
Fixing dents$50 to $200
Repair scratches$50 to $300

Keep in mind that if you do choose to file a car insurance claim, you'll need to pay your deductible before you receive any reimbursement from your auto insurance company. Even if your claim does exceed your deductible, your insurer may increase your premiums for the next few years. So, unless your repairs will cost significantly more than your policy's deductible, it might be cheaper to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket. Either way, we recommend getting quotes from a few auto body shops in order to compare rates and get the best deal.

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