Out of all the reasons to claim on your car insurance, vandalism would probably be pretty low down on the list. With accident-related damage and car theft to contend with, things like key scratches and broken wing mirrors might fall by the wayside. But unfortunately, car vandalism is a big deal. It’s frustrating, inconvenient and, sadly, all too frequent.
And if it keeps happening, the cost of repairing repeat instances can soon mount up. For your peace of mind, we’ll take a look at what you can do to prevent your car from being vandalised, along with what you should do in the event that it happens.
Distinct from what’s termed accidental damage by your insurer and the police, the most common acts of car vandalism include:
If your garage is a haven for junk and bric-a-brac, then it’s worth clearing it out so your car can stay safe and sound in there instead. Sure, it might take a weekend to chuck everything out, but it’s well worth the effort. It’s probably the best method of deterring vandals too: if your car’s not on display, then only the most committed criminals will attempt to break into a locked garage.
Drawing attention to your car by parking it somewhere well-lit might sound counterintuitive. But if you think about it, very few vandals will risk venturing into a bright area where they can be easily seen.
If you park on the street, then park under a streetlight if possible. If you’re parking on your drive, then install the brightest motion-sensor light that’s available. When they’re suddenly lit up, most vandals probably won’t be sticking around.
If you’re especially protective of your car (and don’t fancy forking out to have it repaired), CCTV is a great option. It’s certainly a pricier upfront cost, but it can help deter vandals and car thieves, as well those looking to break into your home.
Vandalism is largely mindless, for the most part. But, of course, there’ll always be vandals on the lookout for any wares they can get their hands on.
If your car tends to be stocked up with valuables like laptops and mobiles phones, then it’s wise not to leave them on display for prying eyes. Hide things like this in glove compartments or under seats. Better yet, you should probably take such items with you when you leave the vehicle.
Need a personal sentry for your car? A dash cam with a “parking mode” feature will allow you to record even after the ignition has been turned off. Although this might not act as a deterrent per se, you’ll at least have video footage of the vandal or thief in action, which certainly helps in the event of a claim.
Looking for more information? We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of dash cams right here.
It might sound obvious, but you should always lock your car whenever it’s not in use. Likewise, make sure not to leave any windows open.
Not only do unlocked doors and open windows offer easy access to vandals, but it’ll help in the event of insurance claims. Most insurance policies require you to take precautions to prevent incidents from happening in the first place.
And if you have a spare key, don’t be tempted to simply leave it in a wheel well or under a doormat. Keep it safe in a lockbox or your wallet if you need to. Don’t forget that even keyless cars aren’t safe from thieves and vandals. For more on how to prevent keyless car theft, click here.
Sometimes, car vandalism isn’t random damage caused by mindless idiots – it’s targeted. Whether you’ve had a verbal disagreement with another driver or a recent dispute over parking with a neighbour, things can escalate to the point where decency and sense go out the window.
Of course, such incidents are impossible to avoid altogether, but the unpredictability of some people’s behaviour means you need to be mindful of the repercussions. Because while shouting at someone in a road rage incident might feel satisfying at the time, it could easily earn you a key scratch or dent on your paintwork.
The first thing you should do in the event of car vandalism is document the incident. Leave things as they are and don’t be tempted to clean up any evidence. Take pictures of the damage, review any video footage and, if it happened by your home, ask any neighbours if they heard or witnessed anything.
If the incident happened on a public car park covered by CCTV, ask them to review the footage for evidence.
It might be tempting to call 999, but unless you’re in immediate danger, you should report it via the non-emergency number 101. Be sure to ask for a crime reference number too. You’ll need it if you’re making a claim.
Before you make a claim, assess the cost of the damage. Can you repair things yourself?
If you have comprehensive cover, you’ll be able to claim for vandalism (called malicious damage in your policy). However, it isn’t usually covered in Theft, Fire and Third Party (TFTP) policies.
To make a claim, your insurer will want to know details such as date and time, location, photos or video evidence and the crime number you reported to the police (if necessary). Claiming from your insurance company requires you to pay the policy excess.
Keep in mind that for minor repairs like replacing wing mirrors, the excess might be more than the cost of the repair. And while you don’t have to make a claim if you decide to carry out the repairs yourself, you’ll still have to let your insurance company know so they can underwrite your policy.
Vandalism is usually classed as an “at-fault” claim. An at-fault claim is one where you’re considered to be to blame, or where you or your insurance company can’t recover costs from the other person involved. And since identifying a vandal is fairly unlikely, technically you’re the one who’s responsible.
Unfortunately, this means you’ll lose some or all your no-claims discount – unless you took out no-claims bonus protection on your policy (even so, you might still have to pay an excess).
If you’ve had to make a claim for vandalism damage, then your insurance premium could go up when you come to renew. Any claims will need to be declared upon the renewal or taking out of car insurance.
Because of the cost of making a claim, it might be worth carrying out repairs and replacements if you can afford to. Not only could you save on insurance premiums and your no-claims bonus will remain intact, but it could be cheaper than paying for policy excess if it’s pricey.