Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Foots the Bill When a Child Vandalises Your Car?; Es Whhels

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Foots the Bill When a Child Vandalises Your Car?; Es Whhels

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL JOHNSON

WHAT happens when the paperboy scrapes your car with his bike, a toddler pushes a trolley into your bodywork at the supermarket or when a 12-yearold vandal smashes your windscreen with a stone? Most London drivers put these irritations down to the trials of living in a crowded city. They either fork out themselves for repairs or contact their insurance company - often paying a large excess and losing valuable no-claims bonuses.

There are no hard-and-fast figures on vehicle damage caused by minors because the problem often goes unreported, but car vandalism is certainly widespread. The most recent Home Office figures show there were almost 380,000 reported cases of criminal damage to vehicles in the 12 months to March 2001 - up 1.3 per cent on the previous year.

However, the true figure could be much higher. A survey by insurance firm Direct Line found that half of the drivers they surveyed had suffered at least once at the hands of vandals, and a great many of these cases will have gone unrecorded.

With an average excess of [pound]150 to pay and the risk to their potentially valuable no-claims bonus, few drivers claim on their insurance for "petty" damage, and if they don't intend to make a claim, many will not even bother to report it to the police.

But the police and motoring organisations say drivers don't have to put up with this and can take action to find the culprits and, if possible, receive compensation.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said: "Accidental and criminal damage from minors is a big problem, especially in the capital, and one that many motorists feel powerless against.

But there are ways of getting compensation, although they Scratch test: only a tenth of car vandals are caught (picture posed by model) aren't always easy." It certainly isn't. Direct Line's survey also found that only one in 10 car vandals are caught and out of these only a third are prosecuted.

The police acknowledge the scale of the problem and say victims of car vandalism should report incidents, even if they don't intend making an insurance claim. If they can identify a spate in one area, the police may be prompted to take action. …

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