Does Your Auto Insurance Cover Stolen Vehicles?

By Ryan Hurlbert on March 16th, 2010
Auto Insurance

Nothing makes your stomach sink like seeing an empty parking space where your car used to be. You begin thinking, "Maybe I parked somewhere else," you think, and as your mind races, reality sets in -- your vehicle has been stolen.

A simple question remains: Does your auto insurance cover this?

Comprehensive Auto Coverage

To be covered for a theft loss, you must carry comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car caused by something other than collision.

With comprehensive insurance, you are covered for loss due to:

  • Flood
  • Vandalism
  • Flying objects, such as rocks kicked up by other cars
  • Falling trees
  • Animals
  • Theft

Comprehensive auto insurance covers nearly any damage to your auto that wasn't caused by colliding with another vehicle or stationary object.

No Coverage Guarantee

But there's more to it than carrying comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy. Many policies do not offer coverage if you do not take reasonable care to secure your vehicle. If you loan your car to someone who does not bring it back, you may not be covered for that loss.

Your insurer could deny your claim if you don't report the theft to law enforcement right away. Make sure to report theft as soon as you can.

Don't Be a Theft Target

You can minimize the chances of your car being stolen by following these tips:

  • Lock your doors and take the keys.
  • Don't hide an extra key on your vehicle, and don't store the valet key in the glove box or ashtray.
  • Park in well-lit and secure areas.
  • LoJack or a GPS tracker can make it easier for law enforcement to recover your vehicle once stolen (and may make you eligible for a car insurance discount).
  • Don't leave valuables and papers in your car, which could make it an attractive target.

Report Auto Theft Right Away

If your car is stolen, call the police and file a report. Make sure to note the police report number -- your auto insurance company will need it when you file your claim. Call your insurance company's claims department right after you talk to the police.

Once you have filed your claim, the wait begins. In most cases, your car must go unrecovered for 30 days before your company settles the claim. If it is recovered in that time, your insurer then decides whether to repair or total your vehicle if it's damaged.

Don't Take the Questions Personally

If there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding your claim, your insurer may perform an investigation. Fraud gets worse in poor economic times, and insurers are on the lookout for it. Don't take it personally -- premiums are kept in check by the diligent work of claims adjusters and insurance investigators who uncover fraud.

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