Personal Finance

I broke into my own car; am I covered?

Insurance paper

Question: I had to break my car's small back side window when I locked my keys in the car. Is it covered by comprehensive coverage?

Answer:  Intentional acts are not covered by auto insurance. Choosing to break your own car's window to retrieve the keys you locked in the vehicle won't be covered by your car insurance policy.

It's true that comprehensive coverage usually covers glass breakage, but only when the incident causing the glass to break wasn't deliberate on your part. 

Unplanned events that break your car's windshield or side windows normally would be covered. This includes incidents such as: 

  • Rock or road debris flies up and cracks or breaks your windshield
  • A tree branch falls and breaks one of your vehicle's windows
  • A stray baseball or golf ball cracking or breaking your car's glass windows
  • A window broken by a thief to gain entry into your vehicle
  • Acts of vandalism

To summarize: If an old flame smashes in your windows with a baseball bat in an act of vandalism, then you're covered.  If instead you intentionally hit your window with a baseball bat to gain access, it's not.

While you may feel you had a good reason for busting your vehicle's window, your car insurance company will only see it as you purposefully damaging your car, which is a big no-no to them and getsyour claim denied. 

Instead of breaking into your car to recover your keys it's recommended you call a locksmith, a tow truck that has a locksmith service, a dealership to get a new key made or roadside assistance such as AAA or Onstar (if you have paid for  such a service).   

You can also call the police to see if they will assist you.  Some areas will help you as a free public service, but others have decided not to offer assistance retrieving keys locked in a vehicle due to liability issues (unless there is a serious issue such as a child is in the locked vehicle). 

Any of the above options should be less expensive than the cost of a new window to replace the one you smashed in. 

It might make you feel better about the situation to remember that even if this had been an acceptable comprehensive claim, you would have had a deductible to pay out.  If the window repair cost turns out to cost less than your deductible amount, maybe it won't sting as much that this incident wasn't covered by your car insurance policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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