Home insurance is meant to protect you from unexpected financial burdens that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford without insurance. If your home suffers damage due to a random event (peril) such as vandalism, or if your contents are damaged or stolen, you will most likely have coverage from your home insurance policy. In this article, we discuss vandalism and home insurance, the type of insurance coverage for damage, exceptions to vandalism coverage, as well as preventative measures you can take to protect your home.
What is vandalism?
Vandalism is the willful intentional destruction of property to an insured property by a third party. The “damage” may come in many varieties, such as graffiti, trash dumping, light smashing, removing/bending signage or ornamentation, breaking windows, or other defacing of property.
Will homeowner’s insurance cover vandalism?
A standard home insurance policy almost always covers vandalism and malicious acts or mischief. Comprehensive or ‘All Risks’ insurance policies automatically include coverage for vandalism or malicious acts. Even basic named perils policies typically include coverage for vandalism. That means if your home or personal property is vandalized, you’ll likely be able to file a claim for repairs. A no-frills insurance policy will cover your home against any type of damage due to a fire-related accident. However, it does not cover damages or destruction to the property caused by vandalism.
Types of vandalism covered by homeowners insurance
A standard homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for vandalism—up to the limits in your policy. Some forms of vandalism covered by home insurance include:
- Graffiti and spray-paint
- Smashing locks and windows
- Salting or damaging lawns
- Removing signs
- Cutting down trees or shrubbery
- Carving or tagging
When won’t my homeowners insurance policy cover vandalism?
A standard homeowners policy can cover damage to your home, property, and personal belongings due to vandalism. However, your policy won’t always cover vandalism, and you may need endorsements to modify or extend your coverage if you want to ensure your protection. Below are a few instances when standard homeowners insurance won’t cover vandalism:
1. You run a business out of your home
If you operate a home-based business, you may not have full coverage if your home business is vandalized. To insure your at-home business, you’ll need to add a business property endorsement to your coverage for additional protection.
2. If perpetrators are covered under the policy
Vandalism is intentional damage to a property by a third party i.e. anyone who doesn’t have coverage under an insurance policy. Most home insurance policies extend coverage to direct family members of the person who bought the policy. If any of those covered people cause the damage, it’s not considered vandalism.
3. Your home is unoccupied or vacant for over 60 days
Unoccupied homes are also generally viewed by insurers as high-risk properties because they’re prime targets for vandalism and theft. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover your house if it’s been vacant for 60 days or more before the incident. You can either add a vacant home endorsement to your policy or you can look into a completely separate vacant home policy to protect your property while it’s unoccupied.
It’s a little different for condo owners and renters, though…
4. If you are a condo owner
As a condo owner, you are only responsible for your own unit within the building. If your unit or possessions are vandalized, your condo insurance policy will respond. If the condo building’s shared property is damaged, the condo corporation will have to make a claim against the building’s master policy.
5. If you rent a unit
As a renter, you aren’t responsible for dealing with vandalism to any part of the building you live in. However, you need to insure your possessions. Your landlord will make a claim with their own insurance provider to cover any damage. If the vandals damage your stuff, you will need to make a claim on your tenant insurance policy.
According to Statistics Canada, police reports state that property crime decreased slightly from 2019-2021 in urban areas, from around 3,500 offenses to just under 3,000 offences per 100,000 population.
How to stop vandals from targeting your home
Your home and everything inside it means a lot to you. Here are a few suggestions to help protect your home from vandalism:
1. Develop relationships with your neighbours
A neighbour you’re friendly with is much more likely to let you know if they see someone snooping around your house. You can also ask them to keep an eye on your property from a distance while you’re away.
2. Light up your property
Keeping your home well-lit will discourage perpetrators from targeting it. Keeping all walkways and entry points lit is also great for the safety of your guests while entertaining.
3. Make it difficult
Any physical deterrent that will cause a vandal hassles or extra work will often make them cross your home off their list. Climbing a fence certainly falls in that category. Planting some secure greenery will also do the trick. A thief is unlikely to try to get in via a window if you plant a thorny bush beneath it.
4. Install a security system
Full-scale security systems can offer peace of mind. Systems, including sensors that can detect unusual activity around your home, monitors/cameras, and a control panel, that allow you to arm or disarm your system can help protect what’s most valuable to you.
5. Keep your expensive stuff inside
It is always best to position expensive items so they’re not easily visible from the outside. However, if it interferes with your Feng Shui, make sure you keep blinds closed or drapes pulled instead; especially when you’re not home!
6. Manage your garbage
If you’re throwing away that box to a new TV or another valuable item, think twice about displaying it on the curb as it waits for the recycling truck. Shred the box into many pieces, and stuff it into the recycling bin or into another box to conceal it.
7. Always lock your doors
If you’re going to be gone for a week, a day or even an hour, lock your doors. All it takes is one unlocked door for an intruder to get access to your home.
8. If something does happen, clean it up quickly
If your house is broken into, spray-painted, egged or vandalized in any other manner, get it cleaned up quickly. As a result, a house that’s been vandalized looks vulnerable to more crime.
Regardless of the type of damaged inflicted on your home, vandalism can be an unnerving experience. Remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It is easier to proactively protect your home by making a few adjustments then to deal with the ramifications of serious property damage. Be sure to speak with one of our isure representatives to make sure that your home and belongings are adequately covered.