Vandalism to cars causes considerable distress to motorists, with some 4.3 million or 30% of motorists falling victim to such an act in 2007 at an estimated annual cost of over £650 million. It is likely the true figure is higher as many people do not report incidents they consider too minor to notify the police and not worth the trouble of reporting. These random acts of mindless damage cause misery and inconvenience to car owners and become all the more upsetting when the owner then has the additional worry of whether the cost of the repair will be covered by their insurance and if they will lose their no claims bonus.
According to official statistics published by the British Crime Survey for 2008-2009 the three most common acts of vandalism are keying or scratching the paintwork (39%), damage to wing mirrors (23%) and other damage to bodywork (20%). Breaking windows and windscreens or slashing and deflating tyres account for most of the other damage inflicted on cars. Whilst the cost of damage is usually about £150, the official average is £334 due to the small number of very expensive crimes committed. Mostly the crimes take place in darkness in big cities (London, Birmingham and Edinburgh are in the top 5 cities in the UK for car vandalism) and over half of all deliberate damage is committed on streets. Expensive and soft top cars are top targets. Vandals are increasingly aware of CCTV and are moving on to places where they will not be caught on camera.
There are certain steps car owners can take to prevent their car falling prey to vandals such as parking off-road or in a locked garage. They can look out for secure car parks or areas covered by CCTV when parking in town centres. Yet in the majority of cases, malicious damage is a spontaneous act of opportunism and anyone can be caught out.
If the worst happens, it is unfortunate that the motorist can so often feel penalised or let down by their car insurance cover. Over three quarters of motorists in 2007 did not make a claim on their policy for the cost of the repair, considering it too minor to claim or worried about losing their no claims discount. Although the term fully comprehensive implies complete cover, this is not always the case. Policyholders need to check the small print of their policies to be sure that it includes the cost of repairs to vandalism damage.
Car Insurance for Vandalism
In recognition of the frustration and extra anxiety motorists feel when faced with this increasingly common problem, some insurers such as Direct Line, yesinsurance.co.uk and Saga have extended their policies and now advertise vandalism cover as standard (albeit with certain provisos). Vandalism cover will usually stipulate that the crime must be reported swiftly to the police and a crime reference number obtained. The damage must not have been caused by another vehicle nor by anyone named on the car insurance policy of the damaged vehicle. However, motorists can still expect to pay the excess on their car insurance policy but the no claims bonus will usually be protected. So vandalism and paint scratches are covered by car insurance but it pays to check out the details.
Information correct at time of publication – 14 Jun 2010
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