Texas Vandalism Insurance Claims
Acts of vandalism can be difficult to deal with on your own. If you have found yourself in this unfortunate situation, you turned to your insurance company to provide coverage for the damages. While damage from an act of vandalism is covered by most homeowner’s and commercial insurance policies, the way that vandalism insurance claims are handled can be frustrating.
Table of Contents
Examples of Vandalism Claims
Your insurance policy provides coverage for a variety of events that fall under your vandalism coverage. Vandalism insurance may provide coverage for damage to the following items:
Most insurance policies do not limit vandalism coverage to a specific set of actions. Rather, vandalism is normally covered when the damages suddenly occur through a malicious criminal act. However, your policy does not limit coverage for property damage caused intentionally. You are covered for damages caused accidentally by the property owner or someone else.
Residential Theft Claims
Insurance companies will often push back against theft and vandalism claims unless the policyholder can present evidence of prior ownership. It is always helpful for the policyholder to present photographs, receipts, serial numbers, videos, and other evidence ownership to substantiate the claim. Common items that are lost in residential theft claims include jewelry, mementos, cash, electronics artwork, and other items of value. Some policies include specific limitations on coverage for stolen items. For example, a policy may include a dollar limit for a jewelry claim.
Tips for when you have a residential theft claim:
Commercial Theft Claims
Commercial theft claims can be complex and insurance companies often fail to capture the full scope of damages. The most common items stolen in a commercial theft claim include inventory, cash registers, fixtures, tools, and other equipment. For commercial theft claims, it is important to present evidence of ownership. For inventory, you may need to present evidence of the inventory purchased offset by sold inventory. For building fixtures such as copper wire and HVAC units, the assistance of a professional estimator and perhaps engineer will be necessary to prove up the full scope of damages.
What Types of Damages Are Covered Under Your Vandalism Coverage?
Your vandalism claim will likely be subject to the limits of your dwelling, other structures, personal property, and additional living expenses coverage in your policy.
Many insurance policies provide actual cost value coverage in which the insurance policy will pay the current cost to replace destroyed property. However, vandalism policies are often not actual cost value coverage and insurance companies often significantly depreciate estimated damages. An experienced property and casualty attorney can help with vandalism claims during this process and make sure you receive adequate compensation if
Making a claim for personal property damage is often complicated and frustrating. The first step is to create a comprehensive list of damaged or destroyed contents. In some cases, this can be an exceedingly difficult task. It is often hard to identify and remember every item that was damaged during vandalism or to prove ownership of stolen items. The attorneys at Johns Law Firm, PLLC often work with clients to prepare a comprehensive list of lost or damaged personal property to recover every dollar possible under policy.
Personal property coverage often has limitations that go beyond the standard policy limitations. For example, certain high-priced valuables may have limited coverage limits that are far less than the market value of the item.
In some more extreme situations, the extent of damage to your dwelling may give rise to a claim under other coverages including ordinance or law, code upgrades, debris removal, or even landscaping.
Ordinance or law coverage means that you are required to make upgrades to your property to comply with local building codes. We see this more with structures that were built several decades earlier. Common items involved in a code upgrade claim includes structural reinforcements for hurricanes and upgraded electrical or plumbing systems.
Will Your Insurance Company Pay Your Vandalism Claim?
Insurance policies typically cover damage caused by vandalism. Sometimes a policy will not provide coverage for personal property or limit coverage for certain types of personal property such as jewelry.
Homeowner’s policies typically require the property not be vacant. Insurance companies often claim that a home was vacant when the property is simply a secondary residence. There is a legal distinction between a property being used as a primary residence and completely vacant. If you occasionally stay at or use the property, you have a good argument that it is not vacant. Despite this, an insurance company may want to conduct a thorough investigation including taking an examination under oath, reviewing utility records, and more to determine if it will cover your loss.
What Should You Do Following a Vandalism Event?
You should immediately report the vandalism to the police and place your insurance company on notice. Some insurance policies have strict notice requirements. Even if you do not initially believe the damage was significant, it is important to create a paper trial soon after the event. At a minimum, this should prevent the insurance company from claiming that the event did not occur. It should also help you establish the scope of damage.
Potential Reasons for Delayed and Denied Vandalism Claims
Insurance companies do not always work in your best interest and increase their profits when valid claims are denied or underpaid. Below is a list of common reasons that insurance companies will delay, deny, or underpay a vandalism claim:
1) Investigating the Cause of Damage: An insurance company will often want to conduct a lengthy investigation into the cause of damage. This is particularly true for arson and theft claims. We have assisted clients through denied claims involving improper allegations of criminal conduct. It is not uncommon for an insurance company to make bogus allegations with limited evidence to support. If your insurance company is dragging out an investigation, we are available for a consultation.
2) Requesting Large Volumes of Documents: Many insurance companies are never satisfied with the evidence a policyholder provides to support a claim. You may provide estimates, photographs, lists, receipts, and much more; still, the insurance company requests additional documentation.
3) Raising Improper Exclusions: Insurance companies often deny claims by raising exclusions that have no basis in reality. If your insurance company is raising a policy exclusion, you should be highly skeptical.
4) Ignoring Evidence of Damages: Insurance companies often selectively decide what they are willing to cover and often fail to pay for damages that are clear. Even worse, the process for persuading the insurance company to pay what is owed can be a battle.
5) Refusing to Accept the Insured’s Evidence: In many cases, you can bend over backwards to present an insurance company with evidence of your damages. Even when you do everything that has been asked, the insurance company may simply reject your evidence of damages.
We have helped hundreds of policyholders recover what is owed to them. Our approach is to present a complete proof of loss package to the insurance company aimed at forcing them to pay withing strict time periods. If your vandalism claim has been delayed, denied, or underpaid, we encourage you to contact Johns Law Firm, PLLC for a no-cost consultation where we evaluate your case and explain your options.