Will Car Insurance Cover Stolen Items? – What You Must Know – Car theft is a common and frustrating problem that can cause significant financial losses and inconvenience for car owners. According to the FBI, there were an estimated 721,885 motor vehicle thefts in the United States in 2019, resulting in a loss of $6.4 billion.
While car insurance can help cover the cost of repairing or replacing a stolen vehicle, many people wonder if it also covers the personal items that were inside the car at the time of the theft. The answer depends on the type of car insurance you have and the type of items that were stolen.
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What is Comprehensive Coverage?
Comprehensive coverage is an optional type of car insurance that covers damage or loss to your vehicle caused by events other than collisions, such as fire, vandalism, natural disasters, falling objects, animal damage, and theft. If you have comprehensive coverage and your car is stolen, your insurer will pay for the actual cash value of your vehicle minus your deductible. The actual cash value is the amount your car was worth at the time of the theft, not the amount you paid for it or the amount you owe on it.
Comprehensive coverage may also cover some parts of your car that were stolen separately, such as the catalytic converter, stereo system, or tires. However, this depends on whether these parts were factory-installed or aftermarket, and whether you have proof of ownership and value for them. You may also need to pay a separate deductible for each part that was stolen.
What is Personal Property Coverage?
Personal property coverage is a type of insurance that covers your belongings in case they are damaged or stolen. This coverage is usually part of your homeowners or renters insurance policy, not your car insurance policy. Personal property coverage can cover items such as clothing, jewelry, electronics, furniture, appliances, and more. The amount of coverage you have depends on the limits and deductibles of your policy, as well as whether you have actual cash value or replacement cost coverage. Actual cash value coverage pays for the depreciated value of your items, while replacement cost coverage pays for the amount it would cost to buy new items of similar quality.
Personal property coverage can cover items that are stolen from your car, even if they were not on your property at the time of the theft. However, there may be some limitations and exclusions depending on your policy. For example, some policies may have lower limits for certain categories of items, such as jewelry, cash, or firearms. Some policies may also exclude items that are used for business purposes or items that are covered by another insurance policy.
Does Car Insurance Cover Stolen Items?
The short answer is no. Car insurance does not cover stolen personal items from your car, such as a laptop, a wallet, or a cell phone. Car insurance only covers the components and features that are permanent, pre-installed, or bolted parts of the car. To cover stolen personal items, you may need a renters or homeowners insurance policy or a special endorsement from your carrier.
However, there are some rare exceptions where some car insurance companies may offer personal property coverage as an optional add-on or endorsement to your policy. This may provide some protection for your personal belongings in case they are stolen from your car. However, this type of coverage is usually limited and may have higher deductibles and premiums than your regular car insurance policy. Therefore, it may not be worth it unless you frequently carry valuable items in your car.
How to Prevent Car Theft and Protect Your Belongings
While having adequate insurance coverage can help you recover from car theft or break-in, it is better to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of car theft and protect your belongings:
- Park your car in a well-lit, secure, and visible area.
- Lock your doors and windows and activate your alarm system or anti-theft device.
- Do not leave your keys or key fob inside or near your car.
- Do not leave any valuables or documents with personal information in plain sight.
- Remove any items that may attract thieves, such as bags, backpacks, laptops, phones, GPS devices, etc.
- Keep a record of your vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, registration papers, and insurance information.
- Keep a list or photos of the items you keep in your car and their serial numbers or receipts.
- Report any suspicious activity or signs of tampering to the police.
- Report any theft or break-in to the police and your insurer as soon as possible.
How to File a Claim for Stolen Items
To file a claim for stolen items on your insurance, you should follow these steps:
- Save receipts and paper transactions of your belongings. This will help you prove the value of the stolen items.
- Document the damage or theft with photos or videos. Show the areas of your home where the items were taken or damaged.
- File a claim with your insurance company. Provide the details of the incident, the inventory checklist of the stolen items, and the evidence of the damage or theft.
- Wait for the insurance adjuster to review your claim. They will check your policy, coverage, sub-limits, scheduled items, and deductibles.
- Receive the payment from your insurance company if your claim is approved
What to Do If Your Car Insurance Does Not Cover Stolen Items
If your car insurance does not cover stolen personal items from your car, you may need to look into other options. Car insurance only covers the components and features that are permanent, pre-installed, or bolted parts of the car. To cover stolen personal items, you may need a renters or homeowners insurance policy or a special endorsement from your carrier.
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.
If 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.
How to Choose the Right Car Insurance Policy for Your Needs
Choosing the right car insurance policy for your needs involves several steps. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:
- Evaluate your coverage needs: Consider how much coverage you need for yourself and your car, and how much coverage you can afford. Assess the current market value of your car to determine the coverage required. Older vehicles may require less coverage. Evaluate your driving habits, usage of the vehicle, and personal circumstances.
- Research coverage options: Familiarize yourself with the available types of insurance coverage and what each one does. Focus on several core types of coverage that you should focus on – Collision, Comprehensive, Medical or personal injury protection, Liability, and Uninsured/underinsured motorist.
- Compare quotes: Use comparison tools or calculators to see quotes from multiple providers in one place. Once you understand what makes premiums increase and decrease, you can compare policies and figure out how to save money.
- Evaluate customer service and financial health: Research the customer service and financial health of different providers before making a decision.
- Consider state laws, deductible amount, and coverage limits: Make sure you understand your state’s laws regarding car insurance, as well as the deductible amount and coverage limits that are right for you.
By following these steps, you can choose a car insurance policy that meets your needs and fits your budget.
In conclusion, Car theft is a serious problem that can cause significant losses and inconvenience for car owners. While car insurance can help cover the cost of repairing or replacing a stolen vehicle or its parts, it does not cover the personal items that were inside the car at the time of the theft. To cover stolen personal items, you may need a renters or homeowners insurance policy or a special endorsement from your carrier. However, the best way to protect yourself and your belongings is to prevent car theft and break-in by following some simple precautions.