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You walk out to your car, and the first thing you hear is glass crunching under your feet. Then you notice your windshield is shattered. Did it spontaneously break, or were vandals at work? Either way, it’s time to call your insurance company.

What qualifies as vandalism?

vandalized car
A vandalized car | Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Vandalism is always an intentional act of destruction. Whether it was done by a thief breaking into your vehicle or someone feeling destructive, the result is the same. So, what qualifies as vandalism?

Broken windows

Windshields can sometimes break spontaneously. However, other car windows are less likely to do so. And you’ll rarely find more than one window broken at a time. If they’re all broken, that could mean a vandal at work.

Shattered side mirrors and busted headlights and taillights

Mirrors and headlights are popular targets of vandals with baseball bats. If your side mirrors are broken and your headlights and taillights are in pieces but the rest of your car is untouched, those are pretty clear signs of vandalism.

Slashed tires

Tires are another popular target, this time for those who like to vandalize using a sharp object. If you find your expensive tires slashed, it’s time to call the police. The same goes for missing tires, although that scenario is probably the result of tire thieves rather than vandals.

Keyed or otherwise damaged paint

It might not be caused by a knife sharp enough to slash tires, but the damage to your paint job can be just as devastating and nearly as expensive to repair. Especially if the damage is extensive enough to require a completely new paint job.

Spray paint

Speaking of paint: Some vandals like to get creative with spray paint. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to enjoy the results.

An egged vehicle

Eggs and your vehicle’s paint are a bad combination. The eggshells are sharp enough to scratch the clearcoat, and the acidic yolks can eat through to the base coat. You’ll want to clean the sticky mess off your car as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

What should you do if your car has been vandalized?

If you find your car has been vandalized, it’s important to follow these five steps. Doing so will ensure that your car insurance claim is processed as efficiently as possible so you can get back on the road.

1. Document the scene with video, photos, and detailed notes

It’s easy to overlook important details when you’re feeling overwhelmed and devastated. That’s why it’s essential to document everything, including details like the time you noticed the damage and when you reported it.

2. Don’t touch anything

Your vehicle is now evidence in a criminal case, and you want to make it as easy as possible for the police to catch the perpetrator. Anything you do to fix the damage can interfere with the police investigation and possibly help the vandal get away, Erie Insurance explains.

3. Report the vandalism to the police right away

If you don’t file a police report, your insurance company might suspect you’re trying to hide something. Besides, you’ll need a copy of a police report when you file an insurance claim.

4. Call your insurance agent

You’ll need to file a claim and provide your agent with the police report and copies of everything you documented. Stay in touch with them so you’ll know when to expect the insurance adjuster and which steps to take to get your vehicle back on the road.

5. Get your vehicle repaired

Don’t repair your vehicle yourself. Check with your insurance adjuster about where to have the repairs done. Then either drive your car or have it towed to a recommended automotive shop for repairs.


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