Updated March 31, 20221 min read
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When you think of vandalism, a graffitied wall or a smashed window probably comes to mind first, but vandalism includes any willful destruction of or damage to your property. That means someone chopping a tree in your backyard, egging your garage, or defacing fine art in your home all count as acts of vandalism.
A standard homeowners insurance policy will cover most incidents of vandalism. That means if your home or personal property is vandalized, you’ll likely be able to file a claim for repairs. But if your home is vacant for over 60 days, standard home insurance won’t cover vandalism.
When filing a claim for vandalism, it’ll likely be covered by one of these three coverage components. Here’s how.
Dwelling coverage: Pays for repairs to the structure of your home and attached structures — like an attached garage — if it's vandalized or damaged by a covered peril, like a fire or home break-in.
Other structures coverage: Pays for repairs to detached structures on your property — like a shed or fence — if they’re vandalized or damaged by a different peril.
Personal property coverage: Pays to repair or replace your personal belongings — like your couch or lawnmower — if they’re vandalized or damaged by a covered peril.
Each coverage component has a coverage limit, meaning the maximum amount an insurer will pay out for a covered loss. And certain personal property — like firearms and jewelry — have special sublimits that are usually lower than standard coverage limits, like $2,500 for firearms
Property damage claims require a deductible
Keep in mind that when you file a claim for property damage, you first have to pay a deductible. A deductible is the amount you’re responsible for paying out of pocket before insurance kicks in for repairs. You set your own deductible when you purchase your policy, and most insurers give you the option of setting it to $500, $1,000, or $2,000.
A standard homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for vandalism. Some forms of vandalism covered by home insurance include:
Graffiti and spray-paint
Smashing locks and windows
Salting or damaging lawns
Cutting down trees or shrubbery
Carving or tagging
A standard homeowners insurance policy won’t always cover vandalism, and you may need endorsements to modify or extend your coverage if you want to be sure you’re protected. Below are a few instances when standard homeowners insurance won’t cover vandalism.
You run a business out of your home. If you operate a business out of your home or garage, you may not be fully covered if your home business is vandalized. To insure your at-home business, you’ll need to add a business property endorsement to your coverage for additional protection.
Your home is unoccupied or vacant for over 60 days. Unoccupied homes are also generally viewed by insurers as high-risk properties because they’re prime targets for vandalism and theft. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover your house if it’s been vacant for 60 days or more before the incident. You can either add vacant home endorsement to your policy or you can look into a completely separate vacant home policy to protect your property while it’s unoccupied.
Unlike other perils, such as damage brought about by lightning, vandalism is a crime and you should report the incident to the police. You may even need a police report in order to file a claim and get reimbursed by your homeowners insurance. Below are some additional some steps you can (and should) take immediately after realizing your property has been vandalized:
Call 911 and file a police report. Once you realize you’ve been a victim of vandalism, call the police to report the crime and provide a detailed account of the damage.
Take pictures of the damage. Photo evidence of the damage can help your insurance company assess how much the vandalism will cost to repair, so take photos and provide any photos from before the damage occurred, if you have them.
Make temporary, impermanent repairs. For your safety, you may need to make some temporary repairs, like boarding up a window, while you wait for a claims adjuster. Just save any receipts so you can be reimbursed for repairs you had to make immediately.
File a claim with your insurance. When you’re ready to file a claim, gather all your evidence of the damage (including your police report and photos of the damage) file a claim through your insurer’s website, mobile app, or over the phone. Also, consider getting repair or rebuild estimates from contractors in your area to help you estimate how much the damage will cost to fix.