Smash and Grab! What Is Covered After a Car Break-In?

By Ryan Hurlbert on December 26th, 2009
Auto Insurance

After a long hard day at work, you approach your car in the parking structure. Glass is scattered on the ground, and your window is gone.

Of course, the clubs are gone, along with your CD collection, your MP3 player, jacket, portable GPS navigator, stereo and your airbag! While you are dialing the police, you realize that your stuff is gone for good.

Think about all the stuff you leave in your car every day: paperwork, emergency supplies, CDs, as well as many other items. Many people spend so much time commuting that their car is outfitted like a second home. If all of your stuff is stolen, will your auto insurance policy pay for it?

Are You Covered?

In order to have any coverage at all, you have to carry comprehensive coverage. This is the coverage that covers damage to your car outside of a collision. Comprehensive coverage pays for loss from theft, so any damage caused by the thief would be covered. Your personal items will probably not be covered--with a couple of exceptions.


Theft of an airbag, and any resulting damage to the vehicle, is usually paid for by your comprehensive coverage. The broken window and clean-up should be covered as well, minus your deductible.

Sound Systems

CDs that were in the stereo system at the time of the theft might be covered, but the rest of your collection probably won't be. The stereo may not be covered, or coverage may be limited.

Many policies replace sound equipment if it is the original system that came from the factory. After-market systems are usually covered only if they are mounted in the factory position. This means that the amplifier in your trunk, the sub-woofer and extra speakers you have added may not be covered. If you mount the main unit in your glove box, it might not be covered. Read your auto insurance policy for your exact coverage.

If you have a lot of money invested in your sound system, talk to your auto insurance agent about getting it covered under your policy. You may have to pay a little extra, but it might be worth it. If your car insurance company won't cover your system, shop around for one that will. Getting quotes is easy.

Portable Devices

A factory provided navigation system is typically covered. An after-market system permanently mounted in the vehicle in the factory position, may be covered. However, a portable unit probably won't be covered under your policy.

Other Personal Items

Your MP3 player, golf clubs, jacket, and CD collection are covered by a homeowners or renters policy. These policies cover your personal property for theft. A separate claim with your homeowners or renters policy insurer must be filed, and a second deductible paid.

Protect Yourself

Make sure to tell your insurance agent of any modifications to your vehicle when you are comparing quotes or buying insurance. Aftermarket items like DVD players and sound systems can be very expensive, and likely targets for theft. You may have to list them separately on your policy to obtain coverage. The same is true for wheels, rims and other upgrades.

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