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Does Renters Insurance Cover Vandalism?

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Renters insurance protects your rental unit or home from damage and this includes personal property and liability insurance for unpredictable events such as vandalism. Renters insurance provides a high level of coverage, similar to homeowners insurance. HO-4 renters insurance policies have three levels of coverage: Personal property, liability insurance, and loss of use. If your apartment unit was vandalized by a thief or a violent mob, you can likely claim insurance for all repairs necessary that will include personal property. This guide will focus on the way insurance companies handle vandalism, what qualifies as vandalism, and how to file a successful claim.

Does renters insurance cover vandalism? Yes, renters insurance covers vandalism if your rental unit is damaged by force. If someone breaks into your apartment intentionally to vandalize property, the insurance will cover you for the replacement and repair costs of all affected items. Repairs to the internal structure of the unit will be covered. The act of vandalism must be intentional and not accidental. If someone accidentally damages property in your home (like a guest), this will not qualify as vandalism and the insurer will reject you.

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Renters Insurance (HO-4) and Vandalism

The official stance by insurance companies is that they cover vandalism for all rental units and homeowner property. This applies to condos, houses, townhouses, temporary rentals, and other housing you insure on under an HO-4 policy. Rental insurance policies have 8 named perils on average and “vandalism” is a named peril. This means that if your rental unit is vandalized, you have grounds to file a claim with the company. 

The only exception is if the damage was unintentional. To qualify as vandalism, someone must attempt to destroy your property on purpose. You have to prove they did this on purpose by making a copy of the police report as evidence. Make sure to report the vandalism to the PD, take photographic evidence, and then file a claim with the insurance company.

Renters Insurance Vandalism Types

The following are the most common forms of vandalism that you and your landlord can file claims for:

  • Spray-painted graffiti.
  • Smashed walls.
  • Smashed mailboxes, windows, or doorbells.
  • Ruined front lawn or trees.
  • International tempering of the electric system.
  • Egging the property.

Harmful acts against the property you rented will be sufficient for vandalism claims and you’ll be able to get reimbursed for the damages. If a rental property is vandalized, the landlord is responsible for fixing the damage.

How Renters Insurance (HO-4) Pays Out On Vandalism

Renters insurance will provide multiple levels of financial protection for a vandalized home. The landlord will be responsible for fixing the damage while you’ll be paid out for all personal property that was damaged in the act. The following levels of protection will kick in:

  • Personal Property. The insurance policy automatically covers you for all personal property inside the rental unit. If the unit was broken into for the purpose of vandalizing your belongings (i.e. an ex-girlfriend broke in and destroyed your property), you will be eligible for replacements. Rental insurance provides coverage for belongings such as clothes, laptops, phones, furniture, tools, appliances, and virtually all items in the unit. This is why they ask you for a property list when you sign up for the policy. 
  • Living Expenses. The landlord is responsible for fixing the property vandalized inside the unit. During that time, if you have to move out of the rental unit, the insurance company will pay your living expenses. This is called “loss of use” coverage and it’s available even if the home is not completely uninhabitable. All you have to do is prove that there is ongoing work inside the property such as paint services or plumbers fixing the apartment. The insurance company will pay your hotel stay and food expenses until repairs are carried out and you’re ready to move back in.

There are certain limits that will apply for replacements and you’ll be able to claim between $1,000-2,000 per item. This amount should be enough to replace most vandalized property inside the home. Alternatively, you can insure separate high-value items by purchasing riders with the company. If you store valuables such as cash and jewelry in the home, consult the insurer to list those under your inventory at full replacement cost.

Note: Each insurance provider will have sub-limits on different types of property. For example, they may have a $3,000 limit on appliances. Moreover, they’ll only pay out the current market value of the vandalized property. If a damaged laptop cost $1,000 to purchase but is now worth $400, the insurance company will only pay $400. This is called an “Actual Cash Value” payout. The only way to get around this is to purchase replacement cost riders that cover you for the original value you paid.

How To File A Vandalism Claim For Renters Insurance

If your home was vandalized and you have a renters insurance policy, you’ll have to provide basic evidence to the insurance company to make your claim. This claim is essentially a request for the insurer to compensate you for a certain loss. You can make a claim for personal belongings, liability insurance, and living expenses at the same time. Here’s how you should file a claim for vandalism step by step:

  • Make a list of damaged property. The insurance company already has a list of personal property that you submitted at the start of your policy. Now you need to build a list of all affected items that were vandalized.
  • Gather evidence. You need documentation such as a police report and photographic evidence of the damage. This will be used as irrefutable proof that your home was vandalized. If you have good photographic evidence backed up by a police report, the insurance company can’t reject you.
  • File a claim with the insurer. Call up your insurer or start the procedure online. The sooner you do this, the faster you’ll be able to claim cost of living expenses while your rental apartment is being fixed. The insurance agency will follow up on your claim by sending an adjuster to estimate the damage and arrange a payout.

Filing a claim for vandalism can be a lengthy process if you have to visit the PD for a report, but as long as you have all the documentation, you should be able to persist in the claim successfully.

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