When someone damages your mailbox, the circumstances of the strike dictate your next moves. A mailbox taken out by an automobile may be replaced under the driver's auto insurance policy, while a vandalized mailbox necessitates filing a police report. In either instance, consider replacing your box immediately and seek reimbursement from an insurance company or through the court.
The proximity of many mailboxes to busy roads makes them frequent victims of car accidents, directly or indirectly. File an accident report with the police after a wreck and a property damage claim should be filed with the driver's car insurance company. Obtain the contact information for the policy holder as well as their policy number following the incident.
If you were not at home when the damage took place, check the doors of your home in case an officer or the driver left contact information and call the police to see if a report was filed. File a hit and run report if the driver did not take these steps. This provides you with an opportunity to hopefully identify the driver responsible and to seek restitution for your replacement costs. Some homeowner insurance policies may cover the cost of replacing a damaged mailbox, but the cost of a new box is likely to be below the amount of an insurance policy deductible unless additional claims have been filed in the same year.
Backing Over the Box
What if you accidentally take out your own mailbox while backing down the driveway? Your auto insurance policy is not likely to cover the cost because you damaged your own property. For renters, however, filing a collision claim could pay for a new box for the landlord. Weigh the potential costs of an insurance claim with the costs of replacing the mailbox. If your car was not damaged in the incident, the cost of the mailbox alone will not meet your deductible, and your premiums could rise if you file a claim.
Vandalism or Theft
If your mailbox was hit by a baseball bat, a bullet or otherwise vandalized, contact law enforcement immediately. Often these attacks are not isolated incidents, and a suspect may already be in custody. Courts often require restitution when sentencing in vandalism cases, but it may take a while to obtain reimbursement. Vandalism is a gray area for coverage under a homeowners insurance policy, so contact your insurer to determine what options are available to you. Consider adding accent lighting to the area around your mailbox after replacement to discourage future incidents or invest in security cameras if vandalism is a problem in your area.
Read More: Mailbox Vandalism Laws
Prepare the New Mailbox
Replace your mailbox immediately with a similar unit and save your receipt to obtain reimbursement from the insurance company if a claim is in process. Use reflective address numbers to make the box more visible at night and consider adding a reflective decal to the back of the box to ensure anyone backing out of your driveway will see the box.
Replace your mailbox after someone smashes it and try to recover the replacement costs via an insurance claim. If the destruction was the result of criminal vandalism, seek restitution through the court process.
Ashley Adams-Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and has covered personal finance, career and small business topics since 2009. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter and holds a BSBA in accounting from Columbia College. Her work has appeared online with USA Today, The Nest, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance.