How bad does the damage have to be for my home insurance to cover vandalism?

Q:

If someone inflicted minor damage to my home, does my home insurance still cover it? How much damage should there be before I file a claim?

A:

Coverage for vandalism and malicious acts is automatically included in most homeowners insurance policies. And to answer your question directly, there is no minimum threshold requirement before you can file a claim with your insurance company. You can even file a claim for $1 in damage (if you are filing one, learn How to File a Claim that Gets Paid Sooner).

That being said, there are generally three situations that would be excluded from your vandalism coverage.

  • Damage caused by the insured If the property damage or vandalism was caused by anyone insured under the policy (such as your spouse or children), your home insurance policy will not cover this no matter how severe it is
  • Vandalism to a home under construction – This coverage is generally excluded from most homeowners policies because it is deemed high risk since homes under construction are prime targets for squatters and other groups that might seek to vandalize your property
  • Vandalism to a vacant home – For much the same reason, home insurance normally won't cover vandalism to a home that has been vacant for more than 30 consecutive days

In addition to those exclusions, there are two reasons you might not want to file a claim even if you have coverage. These ones are purely economic.

  • The size of your deductible – Your deductible is the amount you have to pay before the insurance company steps in to pay the claim. If the damage is so minor and the cost to fix or repair it isn't much bigger than your deductible, it would not make sense to file a claim with your insurance company. This is especially true if you factor in the hassle of filing a police report and dealing with adjusters (see An Overview of Insurance Deductibles to learn more).
  • Your discount rate – Many insurers give customers who go a certain number of years with no claims a discount on their policy. If you file a claim, you will likely lose this discount (or even get a surcharge) for a number of years. Before deciding whether you want to file a claim, calculate how much more you will be paying each year in premiums without your discount. Then multiply that by the number of years it will take you to re-earn that rate. If your claim is less than that number, it might not be worth filing the claim.

There are just a few things for you to consider when wondering whether you should file a claim. If you're still not sure, speak with your insurance agent or broker. They'll be able to guide you through the decision-making process.

(For some advice on preventing vandalism, see How Smart Devices Can Protect Your Home and Help You Save on Insurance.)

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Written by Jacques Wong
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Jacques grew up around the insurance industry and began actively participating in 2013. Since then, he has gotten a Level 2 license, won an Insurance Council of BC award in 2015 for academic excellence in the insurance licensing courses and educates insurance professionals through PNC Learning.   Full Bio