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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Vehicle theft is a major problem in some cities. While people from all areas of the country may have their vehicle stolen, individuals living in major cities or near border towns run an especially high risk of having their vehicle stolen. Most vehicles are stolen in conjunction with other sorts of crime, especially drug trafficking. While it’s not uncommon for a vehicle to be stolen and chopped for parts, many vehicles are taken, used in a crime, and abandoned.
Regardless of the purpose a vehicle is put to, auto theft poses a major inconvenience to the vehicle’s owner. Whether the vehicle is recovered with damage or never found at all, the owner must repair or replace the damaged vehicle. Luckily, auto insurance does pay for this damage.
Comprehensive Coverage and Total Theft
In order to pay for your stolen vehicle, you must carry comprehensive coverage on your auto policy. Comprehensive is a first-party coverage that pays for damage caused to an auto from something other than a collision accident. Usually, this type of coverage is cheaper than collision coverage and will have a lower deductible in many cases.
Whenever you report your vehicle as missing to your insurance company, the agent or claims department will ask you a series of questions regarding where the vehicle was last seen, whether your keys are accounted for and if the car was stolen in a car-jacking incident. They will also require a police report. Whenever you are dealing with any type of theft or vandalism, filing a police report is important.
Once the claim has been reported, your insurance company must wait for a certain period of time, usually up to 30 days, for the vehicle to be recovered. If the car is not found during that period, the insurance company will consider the vehicle to be a total loss and will pay you for the replacement cost of the vehicle minus any applicable deductible. If the vehicle is recovered with damage, the insurance company will pay for the damage to the vehicle up to the vehicle’s value.
Sometimes theft claims take longer to be investigated than other types of accidents. This is especially true if you have ever had a car stolen before. The reason for this is that vehicle theft is a common guise for insurance fraud, so the company will want to make sure that the police were made aware of the theft and that all of the details are consistent. As long as you have filed a report with the police, you should not have any difficulty in obtaining settlement for the loss.
While you are waiting for the vehicle to be recovered or marked as a total loss, you will qualify for a rental car. If you carry rental reimbursement on your policy, that coverage will pay for the rental expenses you incur. Otherwise, your insurance company will owe a small amount of money toward obtaining a rental, usually around $10 a day.
What if I don’t have comprehensive car insurance coverage?
Even if you don’t carry comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, you should still report the vehicle stolen to both the police and your insurance company. There are two reasons you should let your insurance company know that your vehicle has been stolen. First, you will want to suspend coverage on a vehicle you are no longer using so that you do not continue paying insurance premiums in a car you do not own. Second, you will want your insurance company to know the vehicle has been stolen so you are not held liable for any damage it may cause.
If someone steals your car and hits another person’s property or vehicle, you could be held responsible for that damage if you do not report the vehicle as having been stolen. This is why it is imperative that you file a police report as soon as you discover the vehicle is missing.
While having a vehicle stolen is never a pleasant experience, filing a claim for a stolen vehicle should be relatively painless and help get you back on track. Your insurance company will walk you through any additional steps you must take in order to obtain coverage for the loss, and once the claim is filed you can begin searching for a replacement vehicle.