Having a homeowners insurance coverage of the best ways to protect your home and the rest of your property. Some of the most common perils like fire damage, windstorm, and burglary are issues that are covered by a homeowner’s insurance. What many homeowners do not know that vandalism is also covered by most home insurance policies. This includes issues such as such a smashed mailbox, broken lights, or even graffiti vandalism.
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According to statistics in 2008, it is estimated that graffiti vandalism on public and private properties has cost more than $25 billion in damage. Moreover, this amount does not include other types of destruction such as structural damage.
Vandalism is an act that is purposefully defacing, damaging, or destroying property or part of a property without the consent of the owner. Under all-perils insurance, vandalism is covered damage unless it is specifically excluded (which your policy will surely detail).
Vandalism can be done in a variety of ways from egging a home or smashing mailboxes. If a property is damaged in any way without the consent of the owner it can qualify as vandalism. Some of the most common acts of vandalism are:
- Breaking outdoor lights and/or windows.
- Slashing of tires.
- Spray painting, painting, or drawing on any of the surfaces of the home.
- Tampering with plumbing, heating, or electricity.
- Arson or setting fire to the home.
- Cutting of trees or part of your trees or bushes without your permission.
- Egging a property.
- Gluing locks.
- Purposely damaging lawns such as salting.
Homeowners Insurance Vandalism Coverage
Vandalism is a covered damage usually for parts of your property that you are directly responsible for including your personal property. For example, if you have HO-6 condo insurance and someone paints graffiti on the side of the building, your homeowner’s insurance will not cover for it. Instead, your homeowner’s association (HOA) insurance can be used to take care of the problem.
It is also noteworthy that homeowner’s insurance will automatically not cover vandalism caused by anyone named in your insurance policy or family members. For obvious reasons, if a person living inside your home trashes their room it cannot be considered when filing for vandalism claim.
Vandalism for Vacant Homes
The most common target of vandalism crimes anywhere in the world are homes that are vacant. Therefore, most insurance companies may deny your claim if you have left your home for more than 30 days (60 days in some states). Since vacant homes give vandals the freedom to do whatever they want, many properties that are left unattended is an easy target.
If you are planning to go on a long vacation, currently moving or renovating, or looking for a new tenant it is crucial that you inform your agent immediately. Consider the length of time that your property will be left vacant so that it is sufficiently covered with the right insurance.
For properties that are left longer than 30-60 days, your agent may require you to get a vacant home insurance policy. Some insurance companies also offer vacant homes as an endorsement or add-on. Additionally, you can put several measures to reduce the chances of your home being vandalized.
- If you are selling your home and is not occupied, you can put up a real estate sign which includes phrases like “By appointment only” and “Do not disturb occupants.”
- Ask a friend or trusted neighbor to park their car in your driveway to give the impression that someone is still living in the home.
- Ask relatives, friends, or a trusted neighbor to check the property for you if you have to go on an extended vacation.
- If you have the budget for it, install motion-sensitive floodlights or set the home lighting to timers so that it gives an impression that someone is still occupying the home.
- If you are selling your home, place the lockbox for real estate agents at the back of the home instead of the front as this drastically reduces the chances of vandalism.
Vandalism of Cars on Your Driveway
Most homeowners insurance will not cover vandalism that is done to your vehicle, although some may provide compensation for damage or stolen items inside the car. Thankfully, if this incident occurs, you can rely on your car insurance to cover for the damage. A comprehensive car insurance policy will usually include damages such as if a tree branch fell on your car, theft, or vandalism.
Filing a Claim
If you believe your home has been vandalized, make sure to contact the police immediately. You must file an extensive police report which will be needed for your claims processing. Take photos of the damage and contact your home insurance company to inquire on any other documents needed to file your claim. Remember, you can minimize the damage, such as boarding up broken windows but do not make repairs until a claims adjuster has inspected your property.