Do You Have Enough Insurace If Your Car Is Stolen?

By Ryan Hurlbert on December 12th, 2009
Auto Insurance

It's cold. You hate scraping the ice off your windshield. It's really, really cold. You run out and start the car, turn on the heat, and go back into your house to finish getting ready. After all, it is really, really cold out there!


You see driverless cars throughout your neighborhood, idling in the driveway, a trail of vapor rising from the tailpipe as the engine warms. Car thieves see them too. They call them steamers and they are easy cars to steal. In many municipalities, this is such a problem that you can get a ticket for leaving your car running while unattended.

Are you covered?

Your auto insurance company may not pay your claim for a steamer theft. Often there is language in your auto insurance policy that states that you must take reasonable care to avoid loss of your vehicle. Leaving the keys in your car with the engine running, while you are inside your home, does not meet the reasonable care standard. Car insurance companies can deny your claim under these circumstances.

It's Gone! What Should I Do Now?

If you are a victim of theft, call the police and report it immediately. You want the police department looking for your car as soon as possible. If you have a GPS tracking system, in most cases you will need a police report number to get the tracking process started. LoJack systems are automatically activated when you file the report with the police. Next, you should call your insurance company, file your claim, and wait. In most cases, your car has to go un-recovered for 30 days to be considered lost.

Prepare ahead of time.

  • Theft is covered by comprehensive coverage, which is separate from your collision coverage. You should consider comprehensive coverage even on older cars, especially if you can't absorb the financial hit of losing the car
  • If your car is financed, you may want to purchase GAP insurance to cover the difference between your car's depreciated cash value and what you owe on the loan. You don't need to buy this coverage from the car dealer. Many insurance companies offer GAP coverage at very attractive rates. Periodically you should compare the value of your car to your loan balance, and cancel the GAP policy when the difference is acceptable to you
  • Imagine trying to get by without a car for a month. Make sure you have either rental car reimbursement or an alternative transportation plan
  • A high deductible will reduce your premium, but make sure it is not so high you can't afford to pay it. Balance your savings and your risk. Odds are that your car will be recovered, but it may require $5,000-7,000 in repairs. Your deductible must be paid before the body shop can release your car

If you aren't prepared for auto theft, contact your agent and make sure you have the coverage you need. Gather quotes and find the auto insurance policy that makes sense for you. And if you warm up the car while you enjoy that last cup of coffee, make sure you are sitting in the driver's seat.

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