Last Updated on March 30, 2024 by Kristin

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Coming back to a vandalized rental car after a fun day out is every renter’s worst nightmare, and something that hopefully will never happen to you. But if it does, what should you do to avoid paying for damages like keyed doors, broken windows or an unwelcome graffiti masterpiece? Here’s what to do if your rental car gets vandalized.

Take Precautions When Parking

The best way to avoid vandalism is to prevent break-ins or damage in the first place. While you can never be completely sure that an unattended car will be safe, there are a few ways to decrease the chances of vandalism.

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First of all, consider paying to park in a well-lit garage or lot with cameras and security personnel—especially if you plan to leave the rental car for an extended period of time. While free street parking is always tempting, parking in a secure lot or garage can give you more peace of mind. This security footage could be useful in the event that you do have to file a police report.

No matter where you leave the car, make sure to lock any valuables in the trunk and avoid leaving items like shopping bags, GPS systems or luggage within view. Also, double-check that the doors are locked and the windows are rolled up. These details may seem obvious, but they can be easy to forget when driving a rental car.

Also, get in the habit of snapping a photo of your parked rental car in good condition before leaving it unattended, which may be useful if you end up having to file a vandalism claim.

File a Claim

If your rental car is damaged or vandalized, you should file a police report as soon as possible. Next, contact the rental car company to report the incident. You will also have to contact your auto insurance company or credit card issuer to file an insurance claim.

Before phoning in a claim, gather the following documents and pieces of information:

  • Your rental car agreement and license information
  • Name and address of the parking garage, lot or nearest address to street parking space
  • The timeframe in which the vandalism likely occurred
  • Police report information
  • Photos of the damage and any photos taken before the incident. Again, it’s extremely handy to have before and after photos. If your camera or smartphone has a time stamp function, use it.

Read the Fine Print

As unfair as it may seem, without proper planning, you can be on the hook for rental car damages related to theft or vandalism.

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The easiest way to avoid being responsible for damages is to purchase the rental car company’s over-the-counter Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), which typically covers things like vandalism and theft in addition to collisions. At Budget, customers who do not purchase the Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) are responsible for damages including theft and vandalism.

If you declined the rental car company’s LDW, you’ll have to file a claim with your personal auto insurance provider, credit card issuer or possibly both, depending on your coverage. To avoid any issues, always read the fine print of your insurance coverage before getting behind the wheel of a rental.