The word vandalism broadly encompasses the breaking of windows, tampering with plumbing, heating, electricity, slashing tires, damaging vehicles, graffiti, or destroying a website. It constitutes deliberate behavior that is intent on destroying property that belongs to someone else. Under the law, vandalism is considered to be a crime since it is an act that harms public and private property. A conviction for vandalism is usually a jail sentence and may sometimes include a fine, including paying for repairs of the damaged property.
Vandalism often causes a lot more destruction than envisaged as there may be many different types of damage. Walls invariably contain electrical wires, flooring, equipment, or pipes, which get affected. These brazen acts also result in collateral damage as broken pipes can result in flooding, or fire can spread and destroy homes. If your property has been vandalized, you will need to hire various contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other handymen to restore your property.
According to FBI released crime statistics, the victims of property crimes (excluding arson) suffered losses estimated at $16.4 billion in 2018, and the estimated rate of property crime was 2,199.5 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants.
Vandalism and malicious mischief insurance are included in most basic homeowner insurance policies. Some points to note about vandalism claims – (i) damage to your property by persons named in your insurance policy or family members is not covered by your insurer (ii) many policies do not provide this coverage if the home under contention was vacant (iii) tenants who leave unceremoniously may sometimes wreck the property and insurance companies may try to pass it off as “wear and tear” instead of vandalism.
Things to do if your home has been vandalized:
- Contact the police immediately so that they find the criminals who destroyed your home and possessions. A detailed police report will be needed for your claims processing.
- Refer to your policy document and clearly identify how your situation fits into the policy’s actual provisions.
- Take photos of the damage and contact your home insurance company to notify them and understand the kinds of documents needed to file your claim.
- While you can reduce the damage, by temporary repairs, do not carry out any permanent repairs until the insurance claims adjuster has inspected your property.
- The next step is to hire a qualified inspector or a public adjuster to assess the damage and identify the actual cause.
A public adjuster is licensed by the State Department of Insurance and is in a position to represent your interests. A public adjuster’s job commences with a detailed survey of the vandalized property, completion of the pertinent paperwork, and referring to building consultants to ensure that you get a fair settlement from your insurance company. Suppose you feel you were underpaid or denied a claim to repair what has been destroyed, in that case, a public adjuster is the right person to approach for a review and if possible supplement the claim to provide you the settlement you deserve.
Contact us at Experienced Public Adjusters if you need to process a vandalism damage insurance claim.