With vehicles priced so high these days, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself against financial loss if someone steals your car.

You know your auto insurance can cover repairs and injuries in the event of an accident. But what about car theft?

With the average price of a new vehicle hitting new highs – at $ 43,355 in August 2021 – you’ll want to know what coverage you need to protect against car theft or damage from thieves.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), vehicle thefts skyrocketed to 880,595 nationwide in 2020, from 794,019 in 2019. That represents about one vehicle stolen every 36 seconds, the NICB said.

If you want to make sure you’re protected, it’s important to understand the type of coverage you need, how it works, and what it will cost and not pay to repair or replace.

How do I know if my auto insurance policy covers theft?

It’s easy to find out if your auto insurance covers theft. If you have full, you are covered. If you don’t, you are not covered for what is sometimes called grand auto theft. When purchasing an insurance policy, you have a number of options to choose from. But Comprehensive is the only coverage that protects you and your vehicle against theft.

What comprehensive covers

Comprehensive coverage can help protect you if:

  1. The police do not recover your vehicle. If someone steals your car and the police don’t get it back, full coverage will pay to replace it, up to the vehicle’s actual cash value.
  2. Your vehicle is stolen and recovered. According to NICB, the police recovered 690,539 stolen vehicles in 2020, or 78% of the total thefts. However, when your car is recovered, it does not mean that it is in the same condition it was before the thief took off with it. If the police collect your car and there is damage, your insurer will cover the cost of the repair.
  3. Car parts are stolen. Sometimes car thieves don’t leave with the whole vehicle. Instead, they’ll use certain parts, such as the tires, rims, or the catalytic converter. If parts of your car are stolen, full coverage will pay to replace them.
  4. Your car is damaged during a burglary. When someone steals or attempts to steal your vehicle or parts of your vehicle, comprehensive coverage covers damage that occurs during the theft. So if a car thief breaks a window or a door lock or leaves at 3 a.m. and smashes your car, your police will have you covered.

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What the entirety does not cover

Comprehensive coverage can help pay for the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle. However, auto insurance does not cover personal property like the laptop that you left in the front seat or the set of golf clubs that you put in the trunk after a car theft.

But your home insurance policy or home insurance could do it.

How does full coverage work?

Generally, full coverage pays up to the actual cash value of the vehicle at the time a covered incident occurs. But before your coverage can apply, you must pay your deductible. After you have covered the deductible, your insurance company will pay the remaining expenses up to the current market value of your vehicle.

What is the actual cash value?

“Comprehensive coverage will pay you the actual cash value of your car less your deductible,” says Josh Damico, vice president of insurance operations at Jerry, a car insurance comparison service.

But that doesn’t mean the insurance company will write you a check for what you paid for the car. The actual cash value of your vehicle is its value in today’s dollars. Since cars depreciate so quickly, you probably won’t be able to buy a brand new version of the vehicle you drive with the money from the insurance company, unless you have new vehicle replacement coverage. .

Find out how to calculate your vehicle’s depreciation.

If you have purchased new vehicle replacement coverage, the insurance company will reimburse you for the cost of a new vehicle, not the depreciated value, of a similar car. This type of coverage is usually only available for the first year you own a car and you must be the original owner.

Gap insurance can also be useful if you have purchased this additional coverage. If your car is stolen and the insurer says it’s totaled, this insurance covers the difference between what you owe on a loan or lease and what the insurer paid you for the depreciated value of the car. totalized.

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How do I know how much my car is worth?

According to Damico, the easiest way to find out the approximate value of your vehicle is to use a site like Kelley Blue Book. You must enter all the details that the claims adjuster uses. This includes the vehicle identification number (VIN), year, make, model and characteristics of the car when it comes from the manufacturer. If you added any custom features after purchasing the car, they wouldn’t be included in the value unless you have custom equipment coverage.

If you disagree with the insurance adjuster’s assessment of the car’s value, you can ask to speak to them so you can look at the factors that helped determine the actual cash value, or ACV.

“The insured can absolutely have a conversation with the insurer to make sure they have all of the vehicle’s features included in the estimate,” Damico said. “It’s not uncommon for an adjuster to miss a feature that was on a car. These numbers are not firm; they are not final. They can be discussed and to some extent negotiated.

What to do if your car is stolen

If someone steals your car, there are several things you need to do.

1. Make sure the car has been stolen

This step may seem silly. After all, your car is gone. Someone stole it, right? Not necessarily. “The first thing we ask our customers is to make sure it has been stolen,” said Damico. What you do next depends on where you parked your car.

If you parked it in your driveway, check with everyone who has access to it. Maybe someone borrowed it without telling you. If you parked it in a parking lot or on the street, make sure the car has not been impounded. You can check by calling the police department and giving them your license plate number. Or sometimes there are signs in parking lots and on the street that say the phone number you need to call to find out if it has been towed.

2. File a police report

“Once you’re sure it’s been stolen, the first thing you want to do is file a police report – ideally within 24 hours of the car being stolen,” Damico said. Be prepared to provide as much information about the vehicle as possible, including:

  • Your driver’s license number
  • The car’s VIN
  • Vehicle license plate number
  • Vehicle year, make and model
  • The last known location of the car
  • The approximate time the car was stolen
  • A list of your personal belongings that were inside the car
  • GPS tracking system, if available

“If there are any identifying marks like a bumper sticker, dents or a dent, that’s also helpful,” according to Damico.

3. Contact your auto insurance company

After notifying the police, you must report the theft to your insurer and file an auto insurance claim. The insurance company will ask you for much of the same information you gave the police. Having this information readily available can help the process go more smoothly.

“If you can get a copy of the report, that’s the first thing the carrier wants. You may not get a copy of the police report right away. [But] if you have it, it can really speed things up with the transporter, ”Damico advised.

4. Contact your home or tenant insurance company.

Many people mistakenly think their auto insurance company will cover personal property theft if someone steals property from their vehicle, Damico says. But this is not true. However, your home insurance or rental policy might do this.

If personal items were in your car, you may need to file a claim with your landlord’s or renter’s insurance company.

How long does it take for my theft claim to be paid?

“Auto insurance companies will only deny a claim if they have found and proven that there was some type of fraud associated with the claim,” Damico said. But that doesn’t mean the insurance company will resolve your claim overnight. The time it takes to settle a claim depends on the insurer. Different companies have different deadlines.

“What we usually see is a two to four week period [to see] so the police can locate the vehicle, ”Damico said. “Much depends on whether the carrier suspects that there might be some type of fraud going on with the claim.” If the carrier suspects fraud, it may take longer.

If you are used to driving your car every day, two to four weeks is a long time without a pair of wheels. And you’ll need a way to get around while you wait for the police to find him. If your policy includes reimbursement for a rental car, your insurer will cover the cost of a rental while the policy searches for your vehicle. Otherwise, you’ll have to cover the costs out of pocket or find another way to get around.

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