What Happens If Stolen Car Is Recovered After Insurance Company Pays Claim

Depending on the type of insurance policy you have taken out, there is a good chance that your vehicle will be insured against theft. This means that if someone were to steal your car from you, you would be able to get your insurance company to pay out for a new one. They might even be able to pay for a courtesy car in the meantime!

But while your car insurance will have paid for claim and you are already back on the road in a new car, that is not the end of the story. What’s also very important, is that you report the incident to the police.stolen car recovered auto insurance

The police need to hear about any type of claim, regardless of its nature or how things turned out for you. This is not just a matter of getting your car back: it’s a matter of stopping someone who is breaking the law and putting others in danger. By informing the police, you can make them more aware of what’s happening to help put a stop to the crime, prevent others from losing their car, and hopefully help many others to get their vehicles back.

So now you might be wondering what happens if you also get your own vehicle back. If you have filed an insurance claim and received a brand new vehicle, or the money needed to buy one, what will happen when your car then shows up safe and sound thanks to the intervention of the police?

Now you have two cars but an increased premium on your insurance. You probably paid excess but you’ve also put the insurance company out of pocket unnecessarily. So can you ‘undo’ the claim?

What To Do If Your Car Gets Stolen

When your car insurance company settles your claim, it will normally pay you the value of the car. That means you won’t be getting the amount you paid for your vehicle but rather the amount you would get were you to sell it off right now. What’s more, is that this amount will be minus your pre-arranged ‘excess’. Excess being the amount of money that you pay toward the new vehicle before insurance steps in to help.

If you bought a car off of someone for $1,700 then, you might still have to pay $250 excess. And if you find that the car is now only worth $400, that means you’re now only looking at a pay-out of $150!

In other words, the original car is probably still worth more – at least to you – than the amount that you’re getting paid out.

If it were possible to get your car returned then, this would probably be the preference (and you could even go on to sell it for more!). Unfortunately, stolen cars are often times not recovered, so in the short term, the best course of action is to make the claim for the theft.

The good news though is that it can happen and it does. This means that your car insurance policy should make mention of it somewhere, even if it is just a couple of lines. It’s worth reading this then and checking carefully so that you can be certain of precisely what their stance will be should your car turn up again.

What To Expect If Your Car Is Recovered

If your car does turn up again, then it is those few lines that will determine how you should act next.

In most cases, the stance the company will take is that they now own the original property. In other worse, if your car should be found again, it is now down to you to send the car back to the insurance company. You’ll probably need to call and discuss in order to learn how you are required to deliver the car and whether or not you have any other options, such as buying the car back.

Usually, the insurance company will then send round a salvage crew to come and collect your vehicle. By law, it is the responsibility of the insurance company to claim the property – so if you are being asked to pay for it to be transported, then you have the right to refuse.

In some cases, the insurance company may find that the value of the recovered items is not high enough to be worth their while collecting them. In that case, you’ll be able to keep everything. However, it is very important that you still inform the company initially, as otherwise you could find yourself guilty of fraud.

One final complication might be if you have any items inside the car that have importance or sentimental value to you. If you claimed for those items, then technically, they will now be the property of the insurance company too. If you want to try and get them back, then you will need to speak with a representative. In most cases though, you should find they are fairly lenient in these scenarios – they are human too, after all!

Ultimately, it’s a frustrating process either way but all you can do is to follow due process. When your car is stolen, inform the insurance company and the police. If it is returned to you, then make sure to do the same. They should talk you through the rest!


  Comments: 14

  1. Hello !
    Is it anyway to get and keep my car again ?
    2 month ago , my car was stolen. Insurance did pay me off and I already buy another car . Last night , police call me and tell me the car is found and it’s in the impound lot . Please advise, thanks!

    • We just had the same thing happen, they found the car today in a Meijer parking lot. We’re trying to find out from the ins. Co. If we can buy the car back but they’re tellling is we can’t. What happened in your case?

    • I’ve just had the same thing happen… did you find any answers?

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Mamadou,
      The best thing for you to do is call your insurance company and tell them the car is found. They have already settled the claim by paying you for that car, so they will likely take your old car and sell it somewhere. At this point, it’s not your property anymore, even though the police called you and notified you about it. Chances are good that the insurance company will look for that car at some point, so if you don’t notify them and you take it back, they will find out. At that point, they will either demand the money back or worse, they could sue you for insurance fraud.

  2. I started a new insurance company and the same day my car was stolen. Will they still reimburse me even though I just started my insurance

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Debra,
      Yes, they will. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been with them one minute or 50 years, if you have an active policy with an insurance company and then you have a claim, they will honor the contract and pay out the claim. If you haven’t paid the policy yet, then it’s possible that they might investigate the claim a little more thoroughly then they normally would, just to double-check if there is any sign of insurance fraud. That would be a procedural thing and nothing personal against you. But at the end of the day, they will pay the claim.

  3. If they were in the process of paying off ur stolen car but found it after the 45 days but before they payed off are they still required to pay it off

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Dick,
      If you are talking about the insurance company, then that decision will be up to them. Since they basically own both cars at this point, then they can decide what to do with them. Most of the time, they will decide on whichever option costs them less money. So, if it costs less money to pay a claim on a stolen car, then that’s what they will do. If it costs less money to give you your car back, then they’ll do that as well. But they aren’t required to pay it off, and likely won’t in your case.

      • Dick and Andrew: @Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote -I had the same thing happen to me, Root insurance had already sent me an offer estimate letter and we were in negotiation stage when my car was recovered. the was minimal damage to the exterior of the car ($3k-$4K worth) But the in side was trashed… dirty underwear, stains all over the white interior leather, and ashes from cigars in all compartments near the driver. the car smells of soured milk and has nearly 6-7 stolen purses/ backpacks/ and wallets/ and even 9 mm bullets and loaded clip. The police would not come dust for finger prints despite my mention of all the stolen stuff. I personally don’t want the car because there is no telling where it has been or what crimes were committed but the insurance company just wants to detail it and fix minor problems. I want to know if i have a right to accept the offer estimate they emailed me. I have an email from that says we had pass the 19 day waiting period and i was going to be assigned an adjuster from the total loss department to work on a settlement. My car was found about a month after it was stolen. Do I have legal right to refuse the car and claim the Settlement offer?

        • Did you get an answer to this? I am curious to know the result…

        • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

          Hi Rachael,
          Thank you for the question. Yes, you are entitled to refuse their offer and try to negotiate with the insurance company. It sounds like they are trying to go the cheaper route, which is to pay a few thousand dollars to fix your car, rather than have it totaled. Negotiations on your situation might be tricky, but you can definitely try.

          Basically your argument is that the car is not recognizable at this point and is not the same car you had insured. It was stolen and you were under the impression that you were going to get a new car. And who knows what kind of condition the car is in long-term? It might be a difficult fight with this insurance company, but you can definitely try and you do have a right to refuse their offer.

  4. Question of curiosity going towards anyone who works within any insurance agency. Asking because this did happen to somebody who is very close to me. When your vehicle is wrongfully stolen from you, you end up take pay out of course and eventually have the long slow 8-10 month process of finding a new one that will at least fill the void of the vehicle you lost. But the catch here is what if your vehicle manages to turn up? Nothing stripped off it and it was just abandoned in one piece? Well in this person’s case, the insurance company thought it acceptable to never reveal that viable information to the policyholder, retitle and sell the truck. In this case also, the policyholder wanted the opportunity to get the truck back if it was found in this sort of freak situation. I work within the medical field; to me that would be easily comparable to a doctor taking a biopsy sample, testing it and finding out it was indeed cancerous… then never calling the individual to inform them of these findings and giving them options for treatment. In this case I would drop this doctor and find a new one; also that would be a deal breaker for me, I would drop that insurance. I honestly have never heard of them telling someone that they didn’t want to bother them with this information. Thoughts? Because I would want to be informed if the vehicle stolen from me was found in one piece to get it back.

    • Your analogy is comparing apples to oranges. Once the insurance company pays out the claim that’s it. You no longer have a claim to the vehicle. Whether its found the next day or next year. The insurance company rightfully owns it and can it with it as they wish. The only course of action to be had is a prior arrangement in which the policy holder agreed to pay back the payout if their car was recovered. But it would be who of them to get that in writing.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Brit,
      Thank you for your question, and the reply Steven gave you is mainly correct. With all due respect, the analogy you offered is not quite applicable in this case, because the insurance company paid you money for that vehicle. You can think of it as a cash transaction. They paid money out for what the car is worth, on a vehicle that they didn’t even have because it was stolen. So, they now own that vehicle, and you have the cash to buy another vehicle. When that vehicle turned up, they are still the owners so they wanted to try to recoup the money they paid out.

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