A Hamil-tonne of trouble

Lewis Hamilton has suffered a serious setback in his challenge for the F1 drivers’ championship after the disaster in Bahrain – and his relationship with Fernando Alonso won’t be any rosier either.

The British ace rode all over the back end of Alonso’s Renault, causing serious damage to his own McClaren and effectively ending any chances he had of making it into the points. Neither team are apportioning any blame with the crash being described by Hamilton as a ‘racing incident’.

Unfortunately such gracious behaviour isn’t quite so typical of the every day driver, and with thousands every year suffering vandalism to their vehicle that’s hardly surprising.

What’s more none of us can boast the back-up team of a Formula 1 driver to get us back on the road. What we can do is make sure our car insurance covers us for such incidents, and with not every policy covering vandalism, or even theft, you need to make sure you’ve got all the cover you need.

MoneyExpert.com gives some car insurance essentials for those fire, theft, and vandalism horror stories.

How to handle a vandal

Research suggests that no fewer than 7% of the nation’s car owners have been victims of vandalism. In many cases the damage caused, whilst significant, won’t cost more than the money you’d lose on a no-claims bonus should you turn to your car insurance provider.

Direct Line offer a so-called ‘car vandal’ offer this year, allowing those with comprehensive car insurance cover to protect their no-claims bonus at no extra cost.

Your car is far more likely to be vandalised if it’s left unattended for long periods, so if you don’t use yours every day, or have to leave it outside a garage for an extended time the policy may be worth considering. As ever, though, you will have to pay the excess on any work done.

Fire and theft

It’s part of the basics of choosing which car insurance policy you’re after but opting in or out of fire and theft cover could be a big call.

While you’re legally obliged to have third party insurance, effectively excluding you and your car from protection should you have an accident, covering against fire and theft is not a must.

Having said that, more and more insurers no longer offer third party only cover, so you may need to shop around to find the deal that suits you. Those insurers that do offer it include Endsleigh and Yes Insurance.

Even when you do take out a third party fire and theft policy, or indeed a comprehensive policy it’s important to remember that the excess may be considerable, and can vary a great deal from one provider to the next. Whilst a handful won’t charge anything at all, some require you to pay as much as £250 before they offer any compensation so it’s certainly worth checking the details of the policy.

Be sure to report it

If you intend to claim for any act of vandalism, or indeed fire or theft, you’ll almost certainly be required to submit a crime reference number, so it’s important you report any incident to the police as soon as you’re aware of it.

Some reports suggest that as many as two thirds of vandalism incidents go unreported, but anyone wishing to claim from their insurance provider in these instances would be sadly disappointed. For the sake of protecting your no-claims bonus, if you had a vandalism policy such as that offered by Direct Line for example, you’d also need to supply a crime reference number.

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