Dealing With Home Damage Caused by Neighborhood Kids
Living in a family friendly neighborhood has many advantages. It’s a great, safe environment to raise your children, and these neighborhoods are often packed with amenities and located in good school districts. If there is any drawback to living in a suburban neighborhood with a high population of kids and teenagers, is that it might be the potential they have to cause damage to your home. Some of the most popular claims caused by children and teens include:
- broken windows
- broken gates and or fences
- broken fnece gate locks
- yard, landscaping and tree damage
- automobile damage and vandalism
Accidents can happen any time kids are nearby, and there are some best practices to help you handle these situations.
Document The Incident
The more documentation you get of the incident, the better for the purposes of your claim. Pictures and video are always a good idea to show exactly how much damage was done. Make sure that you take these as soon as possible after you discover the damage, and before cleaning up the area at all. Depending on the amount of damage done, you may need to call your local police department and file a police report in order to place an insurance claim, if you are unsure of whom caused the damage you should report the incident to your local authorities immediately.
Take a Reasonable Approach to Damages
In many states, if a minor has caused damage to your property, their parent or guardian can be held liable for the damage. The cost of repairing the damage caused to your home might be covered by your homeowner’s insurance company, and you may only be out of pocket a small deductible. In this case, some people will choose to pay it themselves and keep the peace, particularly if the damage was truly caused by an accident, like a fly ball from a friendly game of baseball breaking glass of a home or car window.
If you do decide to try and collect the amount you’re out from the family of the responsible party, bear in mind that they are not liable for any extra costs. For example, they should pay for the cost of getting a broken window fixed, but not for any annoyance or irritation the broken window caused you.
Stay Calm as You Talk it Out
In a perfect world, the family of the responsible party would be honest with you about the damage and offer to pay for the repair. Unfortunately, in the real world, you may end up approaching the family to discuss payment for the repair. Ultimately, if talking to the responsible party doesn’t go well, there are legal avenues you can take. But these people are also your neighbors, so taking them to small claims court to get your money back might not be the best way to approach things. Try to be empathetic and reasonable. After all, kids will be kids and accidents are bound to happen. If the amount that needs to be paid is sizable, you may want to offer to accept several payments instead of a lump sum. If you choose to do this, remember to write out a clear payment schedule, date it and have both parties sign it.
If a neighborhood kid causes damage to your home, Five Star Claims Adjusting can help you file a homeowners insurance claim and get it approved. Click here to contact us and get started.