More than 720,000 cars were stolen in the U.S. in 2019, totalling $6.4 billion. If you are hoping to protect your finances against car theft, you may want to look closely at your auto insurance policy. While most policies cover items such as medical bills and property damages, many policies do not include coverage for car theft. Below, Bankrate’s editorial team walks you through what type of insurance you’ll need to protect your finances in the event of a car theft, and what steps to take if your car is stolen.
Does car insurance cover car theft?
Basic auto insurance will not cover a stolen car, but some coverage types do. Comprehensive coverage deals with car theft and car damages that don’t arise from a vehicular accident or collision, and is typically the coverage referred to when considering ‘stolen car insurance’ options.
Who needs comprehensive insurance?
Comprehensive is best for drivers who are not comfortable with the financial risk associated with damages and repairs to the vehicle. It also may be recommended by insurers if you live in an area prone to vehicle break-ins or theft. Many lenders also require comprehensive coverage if your vehicle is financed, so as to protect their financial interests as well.
What to do if your car has been stolen
Dealing with car theft can be overwhelming and disorienting. Bankrate compiled a few simple steps to help you through the situation, though your specific situation may necessitate additional steps.
File a police report
First, you will likely want to contact the police as soon as you notice your vehicle’s absence. This will allow you to file a police report. The police report will include basic details about your car, such as make, model and color. You will also be asked some questions about where you left the vehicle, whether it was locked and other specifics to help with the case.
File a claim
After filing your police report, you may be advised to contact your insurance agent. Inform the agent that your vehicle has been stolen, that you have filed a police report and ask about steps or information required to begin the claim filing process. The agent will likely ask for a copy of the police report before moving forward. Answer any of the agent’s questions and submit the claim.
Wait on the outcome
Typically at this point, you will have to wait for the insurance company and the police to do their work. If you have comprehensive coverage, you will likely receive an insurance payout for the theft of your car. Alternatively, you might see the return of your vehicle if the police can locate it.
Are stolen items in the car covered?
Auto insurance will not necessarily cover possessions stolen from within your vehicle. Comprehensive auto insurance will cover theft of the car itself, as well as the damages caused to your vehicle when it was broken into. However, it will not cover individual items that are taken unless they are part of the car. Homeowners, renters and condo insurance all have the potential to protect property stolen from your vehicle.
What to do if the car is recovered
Having your vehicle recovered will save you hassle and money, but there are a few steps you might need to take after it is recovered. The sooner it is recovered, the smoother this process will go for you. However, if the car is returned to you in a significantly damaged or unusable condition, you may still end up replacing it.
Assess your car for damages
Assuming your car has been found, a good first step is to inspect the vehicle for damages, documenting any visible damage or noting any performance issues while running the vehicle. It may even be best to have a professional mechanic evaluate the vehicle for any non-visible issues that may be present. In some cases, your auto insurance may even cover the cost of the repair estimate. However, the deductible and any repair work needed above and beyond your policy limits is still your financial responsibility. This is one reason why it is typically recommended to consider having higher than the state-mandated minimum liability limits in your policy.
Update police report
Now that you know what condition your vehicle is in, it’s best to make sure you update the police. Updating law enforcement ensures that your car is no longer listed as stolen. It also allows you to report the damages caused to your vehicle while it was stolen.
Update insurance claim
With ready access to your updated police report, contact your insurance agent. Inform them that your car is recovered and let them know what condition it was recovered in. At this point, you and your agent will determine how to alter the claim you’ve filed. If the car is totaled, you may still be filing a total claim on it. However, if it only suffered minor damages, you can update the claim to reflect that.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best car insurance company?
The best car insurance company will be different for every driver. Some drivers may be looking for the cheapest car insurance they can find, while others may be looking for wide coverage options, a helpful digital app or 24-hour customer service. Speak with a licensed agent about your needs, and get quotes from multiple carriers to determine which one satisfies your own priorities for a provider.
Is comprehensive coverage worth it?
Depending on your vehicle, your location and your situation, comprehensive coverage can be a great idea. Insurance exists to offset risks, and instances of higher risk can be balanced out with increased coverage. Depending on what risks you prefer to financially protect yourself from, comprehensive can be a great coverage option for drivers.
How much does comprehensive insurance cost?
The cost varies between states and depends upon vehicle, driver, coverage choices and other information. The cost to add comprehensive coverage to your policy may be less compared to collision insurance, as comprehensive claims are generally less costly and are not filed as often.
Does full coverage cover theft?
Full coverage includes collision and comprehensive coverage, the latter of which is what applies in the event of theft.