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Vandalism and insurance coverage

Image result for vandalismVandalism is generally the intentional damage or destruction of property. However, many insurance policies exclude this damage from regulation. For motor vehicle insurance, for example, there is only a fully comprehensive insurance for damages – a partial coverage is not sufficient here. Incidentally, this also applies to glass damage caused deliberately. For apartments and houses, two insurance companies are eligible for claim settlement: homeowners insurance and home contents insurance. In practice, however, vandalism is usually covered only by home insurance.

However, the insurance cover usually only applies if the perpetrator has invaded the living space – the “creeping”, such as through an open window, or a mere damage from the outside is an exclusion reason for the claims settlement in most policies. In residential property insurance, vandalism is usually not part of the insurance coverage, as it covers only damage that occurs without the intervention of people, such as storm or fire damage. But many insurance companies offer an additional policy, which can also be used to protect against vandalism.

Conditions for supplementary insurance for homeowners insurance

With the additional insurance you should, however, also look closely, because as so often is here, too, the devil in detail. For example, it makes a difference whether a multi-family house or a single-family house is insured. Some insurers exclude, for example, single-family homes with the vandalism insurance, because here the risk of insurance fraud seems too high.

For two-family houses, where there is usually no shared property, only the part of the building that you live in as the policyholder is insured – the neighboring house is not covered by the insurance cover, even if it forms a structural unit with the insured house.

As the owner of an apartment, you are dependent on the owner community of the apartment building, since only she can take out insurance for the entire building. In addition, usually only parts of buildings are insured, which are subject to the “common use of the household community”. These include, for example, the front door of the building or the staircase, but not the room doors within the apartments.

For one and two-family houses, where the entire building is used by the policyholder, however, fixed furniture, such as built-in wardrobes, room doors and the like, is also insured. In addition, generally insured accessories are usually used for the maintenance or use of the living space, such as:

  • awnings
  • trash cans
  • Washing facilities
  • outdoor antennas
  • canopies

Outbuildings often depend on their size or purpose. Some insurance companies exclude ancillary buildings of a certain size from the insurance cover, others require that the buildings are used at least partially for residential purposes. Therefore, it is best to inform yourself carefully about the terms and conditions of the contract if you want to insure an outbuilding.

Fact circumstances are decisive

Image result for building insuranceHowever, the insurance cover is not only dependent on the structural conditions, but also on the facts of the case, which caused vandalism. As a rule, insurances presuppose an “unauthorized intrusion”, which the policyholder has to prevent by appropriate measures. The property itself usually no additional security is required, buildings must be closed, however, so that the insurance cover intervenes – so if, for example, the door to the garden shed not locked, the insurance is not for damage in the cottage.

Basically not covered is the theft of objects, as this is not vandalism. Damage caused by a burglary attempt, however, are taken over by most insurance companies. However, it must also be clear here that the culprit has tried to invade the building. If teens “only” throw a stone through a glass, this is generally not considered a burglary attempt.

A special case are graffiti – these are considered vandalism, but have to be additionally insured for some insurances. In addition, the settlement of claims is often linked to other conditions. Thus, the graffiti may be in some insurance only up to a certain height on the wall. Therefore, inform yourself exactly about the contract conditions before applying for such additional protection.

Waiting time & coverage

Not only the conditions for the settlement of claims are decisive in a vandalism insurance, but also the amount of the coverage and any waiting time. Make absolutely sure that the coverage amounts set by the insurance for your living situation are sufficiently high. If this is not the case, adjust it before concluding the contract. Although this increases the costs for the policy, an insufficient coverage amount is in case of the cases, however, much more expensive.

When waiting, you usually have little bargaining power, but it can be the benchmark when comparing several offers. Because in the worst case, you can sit in the waiting despite the insurance policy on a loss – even if it is not necessarily likely that occurs during the waiting period, a claim.

Cost of a vandalism insurance

In contrast to other insurances, the costs of supplementary vandalism insurance are relatively difficult to quantify, because they depend not only on the value of the insured objects, but also on external circumstances. There are areas where policies are more expensive than in other neighborhoods due to frequent vandalism cases.

By way of example, however, it is possible to clarify what additional protection against vandalism damage in homeowner insurance costs. The following basic requirements apply to the example:

  • Constantly inhabited, two-story family house in Dusseldorf
    • Attic developed, basement available
    • Tiled roof and massive concrete walls
    • Total living space: 180 m2
    • Year of construction: 1997
    • A garage available
  • The policyholder is self-employed

For a regular homeowners insurance in this example annually about 506.13 euros are due. If additional damage to the building by third parties and graffiti shops are to be insured, an additional 14 euros will be added each year. However, a graffiti damage of 300 euros is provided here. If a general deductible of 300 euros is agreed, the policy, including vandalism protection costs about 398.43 euros a year.

Deductible – useful or not?

For most insurance companies, it is possible to agree on a deductible – as with vandalism insurance. In general, this is 300 euros, with some insurance, the amount can still be adjusted. Whether a deductible makes sense depends largely on your risk assessment. Assuming that the risk of vandalism damage is rather low, a deductible is often worthwhile, as it reduces the costs of the policy.

For example, statistically speaking, every two years, if damage occurs and you save 200 euros per year through the deductible, this option is more cost-effective than comprehensive protection without the standard excess of 300 euros. Ultimately, however, there is no general rule for deductibles, because vandalism is an unpredictable event.

Report damage immediately

If there is any damage, the insurers demand immediate notification of the same – this applies to both homeowner and homeowners insurance. However, since “without delay” is a legally indefinite term, a report does not necessarily have to be made immediately – but you should report the damage as soon as it becomes known at the earliest opportunity. For example, if you come home later in the evening and notice that the house has been broken and the furniture destroyed, you should contact the police directly, but the insurance can not be reported until the next day. Usually, this is possible by phone, but many insurers now also allow a claim on the Internet.

In cases of vandalism, insurances usually insist that the police file a complaint. Furthermore, the insurer usually requires a list of damaged or destroyed items so that the amount of damage can be determined. If the damage is properly reported and processed, the compensation is usually paid within six weeks. If notification of the damage is not or not immediate, the insurer may reduce or even refuse to pay.

By the way, you should of course not only report vandalism to the police if you yourself are affected. So if you observe how perpetrators damage someone else’s property or endanger public safety (for example by removing manhole covers), you should immediately pick up the phone. However, the police strongly advise against personal intervention as there is a risk of becoming a victim of violence.