Vandalism is, thankfully, not a common problem in the UK.
Although the 2011 riots have given it a higher profile recently, most homeowners never have to worry about vandalism, and what few incidents there are tend to be focussed in the cities.
Nonetheless, if you are one of the unlucky few to experience problems with vandalism, making sure that you follow the right procedure in dealing with it can be the difference between having to foot the entire bill yourself and getting some help from your insurance company.
The first thing to remember, even if the damage is relatively minor, is that vandalism is a criminal incident and the police should be notified. From an insurance standpoint a police report acts as another piece of proof that the damage actually did take place to the extent that you say it did. Additionally, if the culprit is caught and dealt with not only do you get peace of mind, it also makes it less likely that there will be a recurrence.
Once the police have inspected the damage, the next thing to consider is the agreed excess in your buildings insurance policy (vandalism usually falls under buildings insurance as the damage is done to the fabric of your property rather than any of its contents).
The excess is the amount of money you have to pay up front on any claim that you make. If you have a large excess and the damage is minor you may have to foot the entire bill yourself, if you have a small excess or the damage is significant, the insurance company will pay anything over the level of the excess.
It is always worth talking to the insurance company straight away. The temptation may be that if the damage is small, you can get it fixed yourself and not notify your insurer – after all, you're footing the bill. This is not a good idea as there's always a chance of finding yourself the victim of vandalism, and the insurance company are likely to take a dim view of not being told of previous incidents. In fact, you may find that it invalidates your policy.
Call your insurance company and explain to them what has happened. The process for each company is slightly different but the best thing to do is to be open and honest from the start. They may pay up on your word, or they may wish to send out a claims inspector to take a look at the damage themselves. They will inform you how they want you to proceed.
Although you will probably want to get the damage fixed straight away, it's important to remember that you can't do it immediately. Many insurance companies will have tradesmen that they feel give a fair and honest price and will do maintenance work up to an appropriate standard. Make sure that you only use someone from their list, or who meets their criteria, otherwise you may find that they won't pay out when it comes to settling the bills.
At the end of the day, most insurance companies will be happy to pay out, that is, after all what you have insurance for, and most insurers are very helpful. Remember, though, if you're unsatisfied with the treatment you get you can always take your business elsewhere, and if your insurance company is being difficult, there's no harm in reminding them of that!
This information was provided to you by Allianz Your Cover (www.yourcoverinsurance.co.uk).