Tons of candy, jack-o’-lanterns, parties and trick-or-treaters walking door-to-door dressed as superheroes and princesses … yep, it’s Halloween. This time of year can be a lot fun for kids of all ages, but it can also translate to smashed windows, slashed tires, scratched paint or worse for vehicle owners, because someone pushed their tricks a little too far.
Expensive Halloween pranks date back to the 1920s when people would wreak havoc in major cities each year. The tradition has continued and, today, a vehicle is nearly twice as likely to be vandalized on Halloween as any other day of the year.
Mercury Insurance had nearly three percent more auto claims during the week of Halloween last year than in an average week, with its insureds reporting everything from egged cars to vehicles creatively mummified with toilet paper.
Here are some ideas to avoid falling victim to a Halloween trick:
Park in a garage or well-lit area. Use a garage when possible; otherwise, consider installing motion detectors in your driveway to turn on lights when someone approaches. City dwellers often only have access to street parking so try to park near streetlamps.
Avoid deserted areas. Vandals are less likely to do their dirty work out in the open, so park in well-populated areas whenever possible. If you’re attending a Halloween party in an unfamiliar neighborhood, ask the host for recommendations on safe places to park.
Activate your alarm. Car alarms are loud and draw people’s attention, so use them to deter vandals.
If you weren’t able to prevent the neighborhood menace from targeting your car, many acts of vandalism fall under comprehensive insurance, which covers your vehicle if it’s damaged due to something other than a collision (for example, if your car is hit by a flying pumpkin or used for batting practice). Comprehensive insurance kicks in after you’ve paid your deductible and you must have the coverage at the time the incident occurs; otherwise, any damages your vehicle sustains are an out-of-pocket expense.
Before filing a claim:
- Call the police. Filing a report provides you with an official record of the incident and, hopefully, the police will be able to track down the offender. Don’t attempt to move or clean any of the damaged items until the police arrive and retrieve necessary information and document the scene.
- Take photos of the damage.
- Contact your insurer. Report claims right away to your insurance company. Mercury customers can call the company toll-free 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report a claim at (800) 503-3724.
And be aware that not all vehicle damages are caused by troublemakers. Occasionally, partygoers looking for impromptu seating can cause dents and dings. Be careful where you park and, hopefully, your Halloween will be filled with all treats and no tricks.