Broken car windshield | bunyarit/Shutterstock.com

Dear Driving for Dollars,
I’m wondering: Are items in my car covered by my auto insurance if they are stolen? I rent a room from someone, so I don’t have any homeowners insurance and I’ve been keeping my more expensive stuff in my car since my roommates tend to have all kinds of people coming in and out. I thought that by keeping them in my car they would be covered if they were stolen, but a co-worker tells me that’s not the case. What’s the story?
— Neil

Dear Neil,
I’m sorry to report that it’s highly unlikely that your auto insurance policy covers any of your belongings when they are in your car. In fact, your car insurance may not even cover a nonfactory installed item, such as aftermarket wheels or an aftermarket audio system, unless you’ve informed your insurer and provided details and proof of the value.

You seem to know that personal belongings are covered by a homeowners policy, but did you know that they are also covered by renters insurance? Since you rent, you should get a renters insurance policy, which will cover your personal belongings from theft, regardless of where they are at the time, including inside your car.

In addition to replacing your items in the event of theft, renters insurance offers coverage for other events, such as if you cause damage to the building you live in or for temporary living costs if the home you live in become uninhabitable for some reason. The cost of this type of policy isn’t very expensive — often around $1 a day or less for a basic policy.

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