Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Halloween pranks covered by car insurance

If you have comprehensive coverage, don't get spooked if your car is involved in Halloween high jinks.  
Comprehensive insurance covers many common vehicular pranks, which are typically considered acts of vandalism. It also covers theft, fire, animal strikes, flying objects and damage resulting from flooding, hail and wind storms. But when your car is the target of ghoulish behavior, or you have a Halloween mishap, here's what you need to know about car insurance:

1.Egged vehicle. If your car's paint job is damaged by the volatile compounds contained in eggs, you must have comprehensive insurance to file a claim.
If you get to the car in time, you might try to wash the egg off and save yourself from filing a claim.  If the damage is done, then don't be surprised if your comprehensive coverage won't cover a full-vehicle paint job if only one area has been damaged.  The damaged area should receive new paint, which the painters will try to blend in with the rest of the car's older paint. 
And if you have a custom paint job, it may not be covered unless you have custom parts and equipment coverage as part of your policy.

2.Broken car window. Shattered windows are also covered under your comprehensive coverage.  In Florida, comprehensive claims for windshields are exempt from deductible payments.  Kentucky and South Carolina car insurance companies waive the deductible for all glass replacement claims. In all other states, the deductible will normally be due if you make a glass claim unless you chose a zero deductible for glass coverage.

3.Sugar in the gas tank. Scientists have debunked the myth that sugar in the gas tank causes significant damage. The sugar should be caught by filters, but if it does get through it could clog fuel injectors.  You may need to take the car to a mechanic to clean out the fuel tank and lines, which should be covered under comprehensive insurance coverage.

4.Halloween decoration causes dents and dings. If an inflatable pumpkin breaks loose, rolls down the street and crashes into your car, causing a dent -- that's a collision claim. However, if a Halloween decoration lets loose due to gusting wind, becomes a flying missile and falls on your vehicle causing damage, it would be a comprehensive claim. 

5.Slashed tires. Tire damage is also covered by comprehensive coverage.  Your car insurance company will take into account how much your tires have depreciated.  You won’t end up getting paid for a set of new shoes if you're replacing five-year-old tires with 50,000 miles on them.

6.Pumpkin chunkin’.  If a pumpkin is thrown at your vehicle and damages it, then this would be considered a flying missile and covered under your comprehensive coverage. 

7.Black cat crosses your path. If you hit a cat, or any other animal, and it damages your vehicle, then this would be an animal strike and covered under your comprehensive coverage.  However, if a black cat runs across the road, spooks you and causes you to crash into a tree, that would be covered by collision.

8.Trunk ‘n Treat.  Dressing up for Halloween doesn’t have to be left to pedestrians, cars can get in the act too – and accidents can happen that lead to claims. For example, if a chain you used to decorate a tombstone comes loose from your tricked-out trunk and collides with your vehicle causing a scratch or dent, collision would cover it.  If a prop attached to your vehicle comes loose and damages someone else's car, then your property damage liability coverage would cover it.

9.Car gets toilet papered or wrapped in Saran wrap. These pranks may seem relatively harmless, until you undo the TP or clear wrap and find the perpetrator scratched your car.  Insurers will typically consider such incidents as vandalism and cover it under your comprehensive coverage. 

10.Car tipped over.  Car tipping of sub-compact cars -- usually Smart cars -- has happened every few months in certain locales.  Halloween is likely another night to target these light-weight vehicles.  If it happens to yours, know now it is considered vandalism and would be covered as a comprehensive claim.  If the tipper only manages to push your car into something, like a fence, it would instead be a collision claim for colliding with something.

What to consider before filing a claim for Halloween damage

No matter what type of Halloween incident or prank you suffer, it's wise to save your car insurance claims for the big things.  If the damage to your vehicle is minimal, get an estimate for repairs to see if it's less than your deductible amount to repair.  If it is, skip making a claim. Instead, pay out-of-pocket or find the responsible party and make him pay.
If the repair costs are way over your deductible, go ahead and make the claim.  One comprehensive claim doesn't typically raise your rates.  However, if you have multiple claims -- of any type -- it can cause a rate increase; or, your car insurance company may even find you too much of a risk to renew your policy at the end of its term. 
Car insurance companies typically require vandalism claims to be accompanied by a police report.  So, if it turns out someone you know did the damage, the individual may be busted by the police and pursued by your insurance company for any money it paid out in claims.


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