Does car insurance cover theft?


Your auto insurance can cover a stolen car, but it won’t cover the personal items you had in it.

Anna Swartz 1600

Published December 20, 2018|3 min read

Editorial disclosure

If you’re a car owner, you probably already know that your car insurance protects you from the costs you might incur if you damage property or hurt someone with your vehicle. Your policy can also protect you from the financial burden if your car is damaged or vandalized.

But you might be wondering if your car insurance will cover the theft of any personal items in the event of a break-in. Or what about if your car itself is stolen? Don’t worry, we’ve got answers for you.

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Does auto insurance cover a stolen car?

There are lots of different components of car insurance and they offer different types of coverage. Those different types of insurance include:

  • Liability coverage, which covers injury or property damage

  • Personal injury protection, which can help you and any passengers if you’re hurt in an accident

  • Collision coverage, which can cover damage done to your car in an accident

  • Comprehensive coverage, sometimes called comp insurance, which covers damage and vandalism that happens to your car when you’re not driving it

Comprehensive coverage

Comprehensive coverage, which is often bought alongside collision insurance, covers damage done to your car by things like extreme weather, falling objects, fire and, yes, theft. It basically takes care of anything that can happen to your car outside of a collision.

If your vehicle is stolen, your comp insurance will pay to replace the car. But if you owe money on your car through a lease or a loan, it might be smart to look into something called gap insurance, which will help you get back as much as you can on the stolen car.

Gap insurance

When paying you to replace a stolen car, your insurance carrier might deduct the amount that the car has depreciated in value from the payment you’ll receive — that’s called paying out the actual cash value, or ACV. If this is something you’re worried about, especially if you owe money on your car’s lease or loan, it might be smart to look into gap insurance.

Gap insurance, which is usually pretty affordable to add to your policy, will pay out the difference between the actual cash value and whatever you still owe on your car. Gap insurance isn’t necessary for every car owner, but if you owe more on your car than its current value, if you can’t afford to cover the “gap” out of pocket or if your car depreciates quickly it could be a good type of coverage to add.

Just keep in mind that some carriers place limits on how much they’ll pay out to cover a “gap.” If you’re buying gap insurance, make sure to speak to your insurer and ensure that your getting coverage that matches your needs.

If I leave my keys in the car and it gets stolen, will insurance still cover it?

If you left your keys inside your vehicle and someone ran off with it, you may be feeling pretty down on yourself. But don’t worry, despite what you may have heard, your insurance will likely still cover the cost of the car. Leaving your keys in your vehicle, while definitely not advisable, isn’t usually considered true negligence and your insurance company probably won’t consider you solely responsible.

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Does car insurance cover theft of personal items?

Unfortunately, car insurance likely won’t cover theft of any personal items from your vehicle, (unless your auto policy happens to have some sort of additional personal property coverage). But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

If your policy includes comprehensive coverage and someone breaks into your car, then your insurance will likely cover any damage incurred during the break-in, but not the items that were stolen. Don’t worry though: if you have other types of insurance, theft of personal items from your car might be covered.

You can claim theft of personal items on your home or renters insurance

If you have homeowners insurance your policy probably covers theft of your items, even when they’re stolen from your car, not your home.

Similarly, a renters insurance policy will cover items taken from your car in a smash-and-grab.

And if you don’t already have renters or homeowners insurance, our agents can help you compare and choose the right homeowners insurance or renters insurance for you. Don’t forget that bundling home and auto insurance can often save you money and offer you other perks as well — so keep that option in mind too.