Today, we’re explaining what happens if your car is stolen and you don’t have insurance coverage.
Does Auto Insurance Cover Car Theft?
If you just have basic liability car insurance, then your car insurance will not cover car theft. Only comprehensive coverage, which is optional in every state, covers car theft.
There are three main types of car insurance:
Liability Coverage: This is required in every state (except New Hampshire). It includes bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. It protects other drivers on the road and any property you damage.
Collision Coverage: Collision coverage covers the cost of repairing your own vehicle after an accident.
Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage covers non-accident-related damage to your vehicle, including collisions with animals, fallen tree branches, hail damage, theft, vandalism, break-ins, and more.
Only comprehensive coverage covers vehicle theft. The other two types of coverage will never cover vehicle theft.
In other words, if you only have basic liability coverage – the bare minimum required in your state – then your vehicle theft is unlikely to be covered by car insurance.
How Insurance Works for a Stolen Vehicle
Let’s say you do have car insurance. Your vehicle gets stolen. You file a police report. The police arrive to gather the facts (and to ensure there’s no insurance fraud). Your insurance company processes the claim, then pays out the actual cash value of your vehicle.
Be prepared to be asked plenty of questions. The vehicle owner is the primary suspect when a vehicle is stolen. Insurance companies lose billions to fraud every year. Before paying out a claim, the insurance company will do everything in its power to rule out fraud.
Some insurers also impose a waiting period (anywhere from two to eight weeks) for all stolen vehicles. If your stolen vehicle is recovered during this period, then the insurance company will not pay out your stolen vehicle claim.
If your stolen vehicle is never recovered, and the insurance company doesn’t suspect you of fraud, then your auto insurance company will reimburse you for the actual cash value of your car. This is the price you paid for the car minus any depreciation. Finally, you’ll receive a check for this dollar amount (minus your deductible).
Keep in mind that in the event of a total loss, the actual cash value of your vehicle could be negotiable. Insurance adjusters start with the low end of a vehicle’s value with the assumption the owner will negotiate. Don’t be afraid to research, check comparable values for your vehicle, and deny the company’s initial offer.
What Happens If My Car is Stolen Without Insurance?
If your car is stolen and you don’t have insurance, then you won’t receive any type of reimbursement for your vehicle. However, it’s still in your best interest to work through certain steps, and your vehicle may still be recovered:
Step 1) Make Sure your Car Has Really Been Stolen
It sounds stupid, but a lot of people believe a car has been stolen when, in reality, it has not been stolen. You might have parked at a different spot. A friend or family member might have borrowed your car. Maybe you left your car at the bar last night. Take a minute to assess the situation and remember where you last parked it.
Step 2) Call the Police
Once you’ve verified that your car has been stolen, it’s time to call the police. The sooner you call the police, the better the chances of recovering your car. You’ll need to file a police report and tell the police everything about your car, including the VIN number, make, model, and place you last parked your car. Keep a copy of the police report for your own records.
Step 3) Report the Stolen Car to the DMV
Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) maintains a database of stolen cars, then works with police to recover stolen vehicles. Report the stolen car to the DMV as soon as possible.
Step 4) Search for your Car Yourself
The police will look for your stolen vehicle. While they’re looking, however, you can take matters into your own hands. Search Craigslist and similar websites for your stolen vehicle. Check Craigslist listings for neighboring states or cities. Sometimes, thieves will evade local police by selling a vehicle in a neighboring state.
Other Things to Know About Stolen Car Insurance Claims
Are the Contents Of My Vehicle Covered? Comprehensive coverage covers your vehicle, but it does not cover the contents of your vehicle. If you have renters or homeowners insurance coverage, however, then you can make a claim through these policies.
What Happens If My Car is Recovered? If your car is recovered at any point before, during, or after the claims process, then contact your insurance company immediately. The company can assess the damages. Sometimes, the car is still considered a total loss and the insurance company will reimburse you for the actual cash value of your vehicle. In other cases, there’s minor damage to your vehicle that can be repaired to make your vehicle whole again.
What Happens When a Leased or Financed Vehicle is Stolen? When a leased or financed vehicle is stolen, you need to report the stolen property to your financing or leasing company (like your dealership) as soon as possible.
If you don’t have insurance coverage, then your vehicle theft will not be covered by car insurance.
Now here’s the good news: many stolen cars are recovered within a week or two. Stay patient and let the police do their work, and your car might be returned to you in the near future.