Most homeowners understand that homeowners insurance is there to protect their home from such things as fire, hail, wind, and even theft. But what about vandalism? Does your insurance policy cover this peril? The answer is not clear-cut. Here’s why.
Definition of Vandalism
Vandalism happens when someone destroys or damages property – without the approval of the owner. Although most people immediately think of spray painting, many other acts qualify as vandalism. Here are a few:
- Throwing eggs, toilet paper, or other items
- Breaking glass (windows, lights, etc.)
- Slashing tires
- Tampering with utilities (plumbing, electrical, gas lines, etc.)
- Cutting bushes, trees, or other vegetation
- Destroying a lawn with chemicals
- Placing glue in locks
Does Your Policy Cover Vandalism?
The answer is both yes and, potentially, no. A standard homeowners insurance policy will cover vandalism the following ways:
- Dwelling Coverage: Damage to the structure or roof of your home, including windows
- Other Structures Coverage: Damage to property that isn’t attached to your home such as mailbox, detached garage, shed, fence, patio, etc. Keep in mind that this coverage is typically set to 10% of your home’s insured value.
- Personal Property Coverage: Damaged or destroyed items in your home. This coverage typically has a limit of 50% of the dwelling coverage. It may have specified reimbursement limits on some personal property types.
However, your homeowners policy may not cover vandalism in two common situations: home business and vacant homes.
For homeowners who operate a business from their home, insurance covers vandalism but only to a sublimit. Your policy will state the sublimit amount. If you need more vandalism insurance, you will have to add a business property endorsement.
Additionally, your homeowners policy will not cover vandalism if the home is vacant. Most policies remove vandalism coverage once a home has been vacant for 30 days, though in some states, this is 60 days. Since vandals often target vacant homes, you should speak to your insurance agent if your home will be vacant. You may need additional specialty coverage for vandalism under these circumstances.
Handling a Vandalism Claim
If someone vandalizes your property, you should take the following steps to ensure a full insurance claim settlement.
- File a police report: Be sure to include everything in the report. This document is a vital part of all insurance claims.
- Take photos: Document all damage to your property. You may need to photograph the damage from many angles.
- Minimize further damage: Insurance companies expect you to do what you can to minimize further damage. For instance, if the vandal broke a window, you should cover the broken window to prevent future weather damage or theft.
- Call insurance company: File a claim with your insurance company. Don’t begin making repairs before an adjuster comes to your home.
A Public Adjuster Can Help
Dealing with a vandalism insurance claim is not easy. That’s why you may want to consider hiring a public adjuster like Aftermath Adjusters & Consulting. We have experience working with insurance companies to help you get the highest possible settlement given your insurance coverage. Call us today – we’re here to help.