Are you wondering if your car insurance covers theft of personal items? In most cases, your auto insurance will not pay to replace the contents of your car in a theft. However, comprehensive coverage will pay for the theft of the vehicle itself and sometimes for the theft of specific parts. Rarely, some insurance companies offer personal property coverage for an additional fee, which would cover the theft of personal items.
Seeking Theft Coverage Through Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance
While most auto policies do not cover personal property theft, you can probably file a claim for the lost items if you have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Most policies of this kind cover property stolen from your home as well as your vehicle, according to Policy Genius.
When the items stolen from your vehicle include your purse or wallet with ID cards and debit and credit cards inside, you need to take steps to secure your accounts and protect yourself from identity theft. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, to put a fraud alert on your account. With this system, you must approve any new credit accounts opened using your name, address, and Social Security number.
You should also call your bank and credit card company to cancel your cards and order replacements. They can also prevent unauthorized transactions once you alert them of the theft.
Understanding Comprehensive Coverage
If you want to cover the cost of vehicle theft with your auto insurance policy, you must have comprehensive coverage. This type of policy covers all non-collision damage or loss to your vehicle, including but not limited to water damage, falling branches or objects, vandalism, extreme weather, and theft. Allstate notes that you can file a claim with your comprehensive policy for a stolen vehicle, stolen vehicle parts, and damage to the car resulting from a break-in, such as broken glass or damaged locks. For example, thieves commonly steal catalytic converters because they can be sold for the cost of the metals they contain, including palladium and platinum.
If you do not carry comprehensive coverage and rely on only the state minimum liability insurance requirements, you cannot receive reimbursement for the value of your stolen vehicle from your auto policy. Most states require you only to have coverage for the costs incurred by other people if you cause an auto accident.
Comprehensive insurance is optional in every state. However, if you finance or lease your car, your leasing company or lender will likely require you to carry comprehensive and collision policies.
Using Comprehensive Coverage
After a vehicle theft, you should report the vehicle stolen to your insurance company right away. If you have comprehensive coverage, the insurer will pay to replace the stolen car under the terms and conditions of your policy according to Value Penguin. Most policies pay for theft even in cases involving fault, for example, if you left your keys in the vehicle and it got stolen.
You should also file a police report when your vehicle is stolen or someone breaks into your vehicle and steals property. Call your local precinct and avoid moving the car until an officer comes to assist you. Nerd Wallet recommends having these items on hand when you talk to the officer:
- Make and model of the vehicle
- List of contents stolen from the vehicle
- Photos of damage (in a break-in situation)
- Your car insurance policy number
- Your vehicle registration information
- Your driver’s license number
Remember that you have to pay a deductible when you file a claim through your comprehensive insurance policy. This amount is your out-of-pocket responsibility and usually ranges from $500 to $2000. The insurance company will subtract this amount from your settlement if you have a valid comprehensive claim.
Let’s look at an example. If you own a car worth $10,000 and you have a $1,000 deductible, the insurance company would pay $9,000 for a valid theft claim. If you’re not sure about the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle, you can check reputable sources such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book. You can also negotiate the payout value for your vehicle based on data from those resources.
It usually takes at least a few weeks to receive a settlement for a stolen vehicle through your comprehensive insurance policy. The insurance company will assign an adjuster to do a thorough investigation. According to auto insurance website the Zebra, some insurers also have a waiting period of up to eight weeks before settling a stolen vehicle claim in case the driver is able to recover the car.
You should get in touch with your insurer right away if law enforcement successfully recovers your damaged vehicle before the settlement of your claim. The insurance company will have an adjuster check the vehicle for damage and cover either repairs or replacement under the terms of your comprehensive policy. For example, your policy may specify whether the repairs will include parts from the original equipment manufacturer. Without an OEM notation, the insurer might only pay for aftermarket or used parts.
The insurance company will take ownership of the stolen vehicle if it is found after they settle your claim. They will consider the vehicle salvaged and may let you purchase it back if you want to do so.
If you finance your vehicle, you may also want to purchase gap insurance. Your comprehensive policy pays only the actual cash value of your car after a theft. Gap insurance covers the cost of repaying the balance of your loan in this situation if you own more than your car is worth. This type of policy is an affordable add-on coverage with most insurers.
Although car insurance does not cover theft of personal items, you do have options for coverage of stolen vehicles and some stolen parts. You can also purchase an umbrella policy for some after-market parts, such as an expensive sound system or speakers.
Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.
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