Help me salvage this situation...
January 3, 2005 1:49 PM   Subscribe

My car was broken into two nights ago, while we ate dinner at a restaurant. There is extensive damage, and I only have liability insurance on my car. Is there any way I can get compensation?

The thoughtful felon who broke into the car smashed the passenger window. However, he apparently missed on his first swing because he put a hole in the door too. Estimated $800 to fix the door and window.

The stereo was forceably removed ($150 CD player), CDs were stolen, and about $200 worth of interior trim was destroyed in the process. So, I'm looking at a total of $1200 worth of damage, and I can't really afford this!

Does the restaurant possibly have insurance to cover such events? Does the fact that I am a homeowner, with insurance, help? I know for a fact that my car insurance provider will not help.
posted by knave to Law & Government (15 answers total)
Your homeowners insurance may very well cover items in the car, to a certain extent. I know my renters insurance does. For the damage to the car itself I think you're screwed. Even if you were in the restaurant's parking lot, I would expect it has the standard disclaimer about having no responsibility for lost/stolen items, damage, etc. But it's worth looking into.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:00 PM on January 3, 2005

Is there any way I can get compensation?

Most likely not.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:30 PM on January 3, 2005

If the restaurant happened to be close to your house (on which you have insurance), at least close enough to be plausibly parked there while you were at home, you'd probably do better. But it depends on the policy. Some homeowners policies will cover your belongings in a hotel, and some won't for example. So dig out your policy and see what it says about your car. Your car is probably covered against vandalism / theft of stuff inside if it's parked in your driveway, garage, or on the street near your home.

Hope you ate in the neighborhood last night. And good luck.
posted by zpousman at 2:35 PM on January 3, 2005

Home owners will usually only cover things not attached to the car. So only the CDs, which in the present risk shedding environment in not something I would make a claim for.

Check around the salvage yards for a used door assembly. One complete with out power options is only a couple hundred around here and patient searching can even get you the right colour(if factory) A door is dead easy to change. Same source for the interior trim which usually needs nothing more than a couple screw drivers and a trim tool (flat screw driver in a pinch).

I can't imagine any restaurant paying for this unless it was a valet who stole the stereo.
posted by Mitheral at 2:46 PM on January 3, 2005

Best answer: MoreDullNewsFilter: I'd strongly suggest caution on using your homeowner's policy. Insurance companies don't enjoy paying claims nearly so much as they like getting your premiums, and of late they've become very, very cranky with policyholders who have the temerity to actually expect compensation for their losses. Even one smallish claim can make them crank up your rates, or simply refuse to renew your policy. As your house is probably your major asset, I'd treat your homeowner's insurance as catastrophe coverage, and eat your car damage. Sorry.
posted by mojohand at 2:50 PM on January 3, 2005

I had to file two vehicle theft claims within two years. After paying out the second claim, my agency dropped me. I was only reinstated after the vehicle was recovered 6 weeks later and I bought it back from the insurance company. After paying out of pocket for repairs to make it drivable again, I wasn't about to file for the missing contents with my renter's policy. I have a feeling that if I file another claim of any type I'm screwed. Also, CDs are not covered by any of my policies, and I'm told this is common. So in your case I'd look for the most economical way to make repairs, and start keeping your master CD's in a vault somewhere, only using burned backups.
posted by Tubes at 3:02 PM on January 3, 2005

Best answer: Let me go a little further than mojohand and let you know that your insurance policy can actually be cancelled if you make a claim before you've had the policy for a certain number of years. Learned that the hard way with renter's insurance...they paid the claim, but also cancelled our policy. If your policy has been cancelled by one of the major companies, often the other big companies won't touch you either. When it came time to get homeowner's insurance (with a major company), my agent flat out told me never to claim for anything other than extensive damage to the house itself. There are personal article policies that you can add on for pretty cheap that will cover the stuff inside the house.
posted by gokart4xmas at 3:09 PM on January 3, 2005

Unless the restaurant parking lot was very dark and/or you were valet parked and/or there had recently been a very pronounced wave of break-in in the parking lot, I can't see a theory of liablity against the restaurant.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:47 PM on January 3, 2005

When I lived in Vancouver, which had a very high petty-crime rate due to drug usage, many people I knew simply left their cars unlocked. The rationale was that if a crackhead wants your spare change she's going to smash your window without a second thought, and nothing you leave in your car should be as expensive to replace as your car window. Not helpful in this case, but worth considering if you do live in a high-crime area...
posted by Gortuk at 4:15 PM on January 3, 2005

this is why you should upgrade beyond just liability insurance. expensive lesson to learn.
posted by crunchland at 5:25 PM on January 3, 2005

Best answer: Some good advice here, good work folks!

Never leave anything in your car you really want.....
Leave your car unlocked....
Leave the window down if the weather is nice (or the top down if a convertable...a lot of stupid thieves will break the window or cut the top before they check to see if the door is unlocked).
Leave only copies of your cd's in your car....
Only file a claim if really necessary...just THINKING about doing that could get you cancelled (and calling to get information can do it as well).
DON'T install an expensive cd/radio/whatever in your car.... just not worth it unless you REALLY need to impress someone!
And...consider this a lesson learned...leave the restaurant out of it, it wasn't their fault unless they gave you a written statement that they would be responsible...
posted by HuronBob at 5:45 PM on January 3, 2005

Best answer: Restaurants are not legally responsible for their customers' parked cars, unless their valet parked you on Crackhead Alley instead of in the lot in which he or she was supposed to have parked your car, and for which you gave him or her cash $$.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:29 PM on January 3, 2005

Let me go a little further than mojohand and let you know that your insurance policy can actually be cancelled if you make a claim before you've had the policy for a certain number of years.

Can be, yes, but only some policies in some states. If you have a policy with an admitted insurance company, they generally can't cancel your policy for making such a claim, but they can non-renew it (meaning that, when your year-long policy is over, they have the same right as you to walk away.)

I was about to point out that I'm a licensed P&C surplus lines insurance agent in the state of Virginia, but my license expired three days ago (I no longer practice), so IANAIA.
posted by waldo at 7:26 PM on January 3, 2005

slightly off-topic-

A side note regarding Valet Service:

While a valet company has to have insurance to cover damages, theft, etc, the companies are generally very shady, and will try to weasel out of claiming or paying.

Valets, in general, will steal anything that looks good. A good chunk of them use recreational drugs. Take all the shiny things out of your car if you must valet.

ALWAYS use a valet-key. However, this will not stop them from joy-riding in your car, if you have a nice enough one.

I know this because I used to run several different valet crews. It was good money, but way too much stress dealing with 20 year old crackheads.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:21 PM on January 3, 2005

Why was your stereo nicked? Didn't you remove the front panel? Also, I never leave CD originals in the car. Copies only. Finally, why do you think you have a right to claim at all? What do you think liability insurance is, after all? (I presume it's what I would call third party). If your car is valuable enough that an 800$ repair bill doesn't write it off, then surely it's worth insuring fully comprehensive?
posted by salmacis at 7:42 AM on January 4, 2005

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