Vehicles are usually one of the most valuable possessions most people own and they look after them well. However, automobiles still get stolen or vandalized even though their owners follow every precaution. That is why one of the first coverage questions you should ask when you are insuring your vehicle is does auto insurance cover theft and vandalism or does insurance cover stolen car?
It is best to ask these questions before the events and ideally while you buy vehicle insurance. You should never assume that your policy would cover everything because there are so many different types of car insurance coverage. Asking the right questions help you insure your auto as best as you can. Let’s have a look at the type of coverage you need to protect yourself against auto theft and related damages.
Vehicle Theft Statistics in the US
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) every 45 seconds someone discovers that his/her car has been stolen from its garage, driveway or parking spot. The FBI reports that there were 707,758 thefts of motor vehicles that cost nearly $5 billion across the country in 2015. You may think that police will recover your car quickly but only 50% of stolen cars are recovered and reunited with their owners, according to NHTSA. A few of those recovered vehicles are damaged beyond repair anyway and most requires some sort of repairs for the damages caused by the auto thieves.
According to NHTSA, over 40% of auto thefts and thefts from vehicles were the result of driver mistakes, like leaving the key in the ignition, not locking it properly and leaving valuables visibly inside cars.
If 2 cars get stolen every minute it is not a rare occurrence and it can happen to you too. Being left high and dry like that without a vehicle to go to work or take children to school can affect your life and having no insurance to pay for another similar vehicle can affect your finances. One of the first questions people ask after discovering their vehicle is stolen is does auto insurance cover theft? So, if you own a car that is worth its salt you’d better make sure it is insured for any damages that may come to it, including theft and vandalism.
Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Theft and Vandalism?
It is probably best to divide this question as stolen cars and stolen items from cars. Comprehensive auto insurance coverage covers stolen cars and damages and vandalism during the theft. Sometimes, thieves are more interested in what you have in the vehicle than vehicle itself and they damage the car in the process of getting it. Such damages are covered if you have full coverage car insurance and more specifically by comprehensive coverage within your full coverage. You can also claim its current market value if your car is stolen and never recovered.
If your car isn’t recovered within the first few weeks most insurers assume that it will never be recovered and pay you enough money to buy another vehicle. If it is recovered at a later stage the vehicle then is considered to be the property of the insurance company as they fully paid for it.
Then, there is the vandalism damages to your automobile that is also covered by comprehensive coverage. Sometimes it may be difficult to determine if the damage is caused because someone was trying to steal something from your car or being stupid, destructive or drunk. In any case, it goes under your comprehensive cover.
In addition, comprehensive coverage pays for damages that are caused by storm, flood, other weather conditions, falling objects, fire and accidental occurrences. Comprehensive coverage also pays for animal damage, like hitting a deer. This coverage comes with a deductible of around $300 – $500 and you can increase it if you can save money on car insurance by doing so. Deductibles are the sums you need to pay before your insurance kicks in to pay the rest of your damages.
Comprehensive auto insurance coverage is optional for people who own their vehicles unencumbered. But people who leased or bought a car with loan will need to buy this coverage as lenders and lessees usually require the vehicle to be insured fully. Comprehensive insurance hardly ever sold without liability and collision coverage.
Does Car Insurance Cover Theft of Personal Items?
When you buy a policy called “full coverage” you may be under the impression that it covers everything but it doesn’t. Full coverage provides pretty wide protection as it includes liability, collision and comprehensive covers. However, it doesn’t cover personal items in your automobile regardless of damages to them in an accident or due to theft from cars.
Typically, personal items are covered by home or renters insurance. In other words, you may have to make an automobile insurance claim for the damages to your vehicle in the process of theft like broken windows and a home insurance claim for the stolen personal items like laptops.
Furthermore, auto insurance only covers other equipment that is fixed in your vehicle if they are specifically included in your policy. If an equipment isn’t an original part of your automobile like stereo your insurer wouldn’t pay for it unless you have told them about such improvements and additions in advance and paid the required additional premium. Perhaps you should read further on what does comprehensive auto insurance cover?
How to Protect your Vehicle against Theft?
You cannot ignore your basic responsibilities of protecting your auto against thieves, just because you insured it fully. Every policy requires the policyholder to do their best to avoid damages and injuries. For example, insurance companies wouldn’t pay for damages that are caused intentionally by policyholders. You cannot just smash it with a baseball bat and expect your insurer pays for it.
In the same way, your insurer can hold you responsible and deny a theft claim if you leave your car unattended while it is running on a busy street. This raises suspicion that you did everything you can to make sure someone steals your automobile. Your policy requires you to do everything you can to make sure it isn’t stolen. So, here are a few things you can do to make sure thieves or opportunist joy riders don’t target your auto.
- Don’t ever leave the key in the ignition no matter for how short period and where your car is parked. That would be tempting invitation to thieves, not protecting against. Also, make sure all the windows and doors are locked.
- Park your car in your garage or driveway if you have one. Otherwise, look for a well-lit spot to park it. Always, take your personal items like wallets, handbags, laptops and cellphone with you when you are leaving.
What to Do After an Auto Theft?
Believe it or not common sense is your best protection against auto thefts. Technically, you buy comprehensive auto insurance coverage in the event that all your attempts to safeguard your vehicle fails and you need to make a claim for your loss. Here is how to go about claiming for a stolen car.
- The first thing you need to do is to contact the policy to file stolen vehicle report. Most insurance companies start their claim process with this report. Also, Notifying the police of the vehicle theft protects you if the thief causes damage to others with your car.
- You should report the incident to your insurer and ask them what they want you to do next. You probably need to complete a claim form online, by phone or post.
- Contact your lender if you have a loan on your vehicle and let them know of your claim details so that they can contact the insurer if they need to.
- Let the insurer know if your car is recovered. If not, you probably need to start looking for a new car. You will probably be paid the open market value of your stolen car as a total settlement.
Losing your car can cause sudden inconvenience. If you have full coverage auto insurance it will at least take away the financial worries. Normally, most insurers settle a theft claim pretty quickly as after a while the chance of recovering a stolen vehicle is very low. Most companies would look into paying you after a month of no news. So, prepare yourself accordingly. If you have rental reimbursement coverage you can probably have a rental car for a month and it will probably end after 30 days. So, you should look for your new car and be ready to buy it as soon as you receive claim payment.