What Should I Do If My Car Gets Stolen?

If your car disappears, and you don’t know where it went, then someone might have stolen it. In fact, statistics from the Insurance Information Institute (III) show that roughly 750,000 vehicle thefts occurred in the United States in 2018. That’s a rate of approximately 228 thefts per 100,000 drivers. This might seem like a small risk, but it is still prevalent. Any car could get stolen at any time, and it’s only natural to want to recover it. The question is whether your car insurance will help you?

Often, car insurance can provide coverage for stolen vehicles. However, you will have to accurately document the theft and provide this documentation to your insurer. This will require working with the police and gathering all the appropriate information to verify your claim.

Before Calling the Police, Make Sure Your Vehicle Actually Was Stolen

Some statistics show that a significant proportion of reported vehicle thefts actually are not thefts at all. A car you might think was stolen might have gotten towed, been repossessed, or even been borrowed by a family member. Therefore, there might be a simple explanation to where your car is.

However, the thing about these other causes of missing vehicles is that they are often easy to verify. Therefore, if you cannot find your car, then the sad fact is that a theft might have occurred. As a result, you'll need to immediately call the police. They will take a report of the theft and can often begin to search for the vehicle. After his point, you can likely call your auto insurer.

What Happens When You File a Claim

When you call your insurer to report a vehicle theft, they will likely ask you for several pieces of information:

  • The police report of the theft
  • The location and circumstances surrounding the theft (which often will be reflected on the police report)
  • A recent photo of the vehicle
  • The vehicle’s registration and license plate information
  • Your driver’s license information

To receive coverage for vehicle theft, you will have to make sure your policy includes a certain type of coverage called comprehensive damage insurance. Comprehensive coverage pays for vehicle damage or losses resulting from hazards other than wrecks. Theft usually falls under this coverage.

Depending on the terms of your policy, your insurer might compensate you for the vehicle based on either its actual cash value (ACV) or its replacement cost value (RCV).

Actual cash value pays only based on the car’s value at the time of the theft, while replacement cost coverage will pay you a value comparable to a new vehicle of similar make and model. Both ACV and RCV policies will likely have deductibles attached.

It’s always in your best interest to have full auto insurance to protect you in case of theft. Therefore, don’t hesitate to work with your agent to design a policy that is to your benefit.