More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
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.
Luckily, a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover most incidents of vandalism. Specifically the dwelling, other structures, and personal property components of your policy would cover vandalism damage to your home, outbuildings and belongings respectively. However, there are some instances where your homeowners insurance may not cover vandalism, like if your home is vacant or you’ve been gone for an extended amount of time, so if you’re protecting a property that you’re not currently occupying, you should look into additional coverage.
Vandalism is covered by most standard homeowners policies
Specifically your dwelling, other structures, and personal property coverages can all cover damage from vandalism
There are some instances where your homeowners insurance may not cover vandalism, including if your home was vacant or unoccupied for more than 60 days
For even more coverage, you can add an endorsement to your policy to protect parts of your property that a standard policy won’t cover
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers all perils except for those specifically excluded from your policy, and vandalism is covered by most home insurance policies. 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
Dwelling coverage would reimburse you for damage to the structure of your home or roof if it were vandalized. Dwelling coverage also covers damage to your home from theft, like a smashed window, if it was broken into before it was vandalized.
If a part of your property that isn’t attached to your home is vandalized, like a shed or mailbox, your other structures coverage would cover the damage. Other structures coverage also protects greenhouses, fences, garages, detached patios or dining areas, and even construction materials and supplies related to the other structure. However, coverage for other structures is typically set to 10% of your home’s insured value. Personal property coverage is the part of your home insurance coverage that reimburses you for any damaged, destroyed or stolen items. It is usually set to 50% of your dwelling coverage limit by default.
Personal property coverage covers all the stuff inside your home, including expensive equipment and devices like your entertainment system, kitchen appliances, computers, bikes, and other valuables, but some property types are usually subject to specified reimbursement limits.
All of these coverages work together to ensure your home and belongings are protected. Say your home is broken-into while you’re out for the night and your home is vandalized. Dwelling coverage would cover the smashed windows and spray-painted siding, other structures coverage would cover your knocked-over fence and damaged pool, and personal property coverage would reimburse you for any stolen items — but they’re all part of your single homeowners policy.
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Your homeowners insurance can protect your home and belongings but only up to your coverage limits. Different coverage types each have limits, meaning the maximum amount that your insurer will pay.
With dwelling insurance, your coverage limit should be determined by your home’s rebuild cost, or the cost to fully rebuild your home if it were completely destroyed. So, if your home is insured for up to $300,000, your homeowners insurance policy will only reimburse you for vandalism up to that amount.
Other coverages in your home insurance policy typically have limits based on percentages of your total dwelling coverage amount. This chart highlights all six basic protections in a standard homeowners insurance policy and the coverage limits for each:
|COVERAGE TYPE||WHAT DOES IT COVER?||WHAT'S THE COVERAGE LIMIT?||DO YOU HAVE TO PAY A DEDUCTIBLE?|
|Dwelling coverage||Covers the structure of your home and built-in appliances||Should be equal to your home's replacement cost||Yes|
|Other structures coverage||Covers detached structures on your property||10% of dwelling coverage||Yes|
|Personal property coverage||Covers your personal belongings both inside and outside the home||50% of dwelling coverage||Yes|
|Loss-of-use coverage||Pays for additional living expenses while your home is being repaired||20% of dwelling coverage||Yes|
|Personal liability coverage||Pays for legal and medical bills if you're held liable for injury or personal property damage to someone else||$100,000-$500,000||No|
|Medical payments coverage||If a guest is injured in your home, it pays for their medical bills, regardless of who is at fault||$1,000-$5,000||No|
Personal property coverage also comes with sublimits, meaning lower limits for certain property types. Valuable items like a fur or a firearm would still be covered by personal property insurance, but the maximum limit for both is usually set at $2,500, and other property subimits also range between $200 (for money, like coins and medals) and $1,500 (for boats and other watercraft). To insure a specific item, like a valuable engagement ring or a piece of art, you can add a scheduled personal property rider to increase your coverage.
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. Your coverage may be limited based on how you’re using 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 beyond the sublimit listed in your policy, you’ll need to add a business property endorsement to your coverage for additional protection.
Unoccupied homes are also generally viewed by insurers as high-risk properties because they’re prime targets for vandalism and theft. Homeowners insurance can cover vandalism and theft under multiple circumstances, but you may not be protected if your house had been vacant for 60 days or more before the incident.
That means your home may not be covered by standard homeowners insurance if you moved out and are selling it, or if you leave your home to travel for several months at a time. In these cases, 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 asses 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
Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in auto and home insurance. She's been writing about insurance, finance and financial planning since 2018, and loves helping readers get the knowledge they need to make financial decisions with confidence. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.
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