Car insurance

'Why won't the RAC pay out over my vandalised car?'


Three months ago my car was vandalised while parked in a town in Umbria and the two side windows were broken.

I informed my insurance company, which I had found via the RAC, and also the RAC itself with which I had a European breakdown cover policy. I did not make a claim under the insurance as the cost of the repair was about £500 and it would not be worthwhile.

However, there was provision under the breakdown cover for a payment, even though the car was drivable as only the windows had been broken. I drove to the garage myself.

I was informed by the RAC rescue service, which was based in France, that the maximum compensation I would receive from it was £180.

At the time I was in a panic to get the car repaired as my daughter was arriving in London within a week and I had to get home. I believed I could leave the claim form until I returned to London.

Meanwhile, I contacted the local police and obtained the necessary reports ready for the RAC.

I submitted all the documentation indicating all my expenses but anticipating only the £180 maximum payout. However, I am yet to receive any money.

GD, Middlesex

The cover had offered “vehicle break-in emergency repairs”. This said: “If the vehicle suffers damage to windows, or locks caused by forcible entry or attempted forcible entry, we will reimburse you up to the amount on your schedule.”

This could be for immediate emergency costs necessary in order to continue the journey or the cost of recovering the vehicle to a local repairer to ensure it is secure and roadworthy.

The maximum payable under this section was £180. You needed to report the incident to the police, pay the expenses upfront and then claim them later. All of this you complied with.

While the people in the international rescue service had believed that you would receive £180, the RAC now replied to you that no compensation would be given for vandalism, this being different to the covered risk of forcible entry.

This crucial distinction doesn’t jump out of the terms and conditions but as vandalism is not cited as being covered, it isn’t.

Your attempts to sort this out had been unsuccessful. This was particularly disappointing as you have been a member of the RAC both in England and for the European Cover since 1999.

However, further to my arguing your case, RAC agreed to treat this as attempted theft (with forcible entry) which it may have been.

After that the RAC told me that it had written to you enclosing a cheque for £180 and had tried to call you. When I checked with you, though, you hadn’t heard or received anything. I prodded RAC and the matter has finally been resolved.


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