Q

Does car insurance cover theft?

A

Yes, your auto insurance will cover a stolen car, but it won’t cover any personal items you had in it.

Anna Swartz 1600Stephanie Nieves author photo

By

Anna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius, specializing in auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Mic, The Dodo, AOL, MSN, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.

&

Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in home and auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Updated September 1, 2021|5 min read

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If you’re a car owner, you probably already know that your car insurance covers the costs if you damage property or hurt someone with your vehicle. Your policy can also cover the cost of repairs 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, car insurance will cover the cost if your vehicle is stolen — but what you get from your insurance company isn’t always enough to replace your stolen car, and your car insurance company won’t cover the value of any personal items that were inside the car when it was stolen.

Key Takeaways

  • If you have comprehensive coverage, then your car insurance policy will cover the cost of your car if it is stolen

  • Comprehensive coverage also helps pay to replace stolen car parts or repair damage to your vehicle after a break-in

  • If your car is stolen, you’ll be paid back the actual cash value of your vehicle, which includes depreciation 

  • Car insurance does not cover theft of personal items. If your belongings were stolen from your car, you should file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance policy

Does auto insurance cover a stolen car?

Yes, if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your policy, then your insurance will cover the cost of your stolen vehicle. Comprehensive coverage is often bought alongside collision coverage, and can also help to replace stolen car parts or repair damage to your car after a break-in. 

Comprehensive coverage is typically optional, unless you’re leasing or financing your vehicle, but it’s an important addition to your policy, since it covers damage to your car that’s not caused by a collision, like vandalism, extreme weather, and falling objects.

If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, then your car insurance won’t pay you anything for your stolen car. Your liability coverage, which is required in most states, will only pay for damage you cause in an accident — it doesn’t cover your vehicle if it is damaged or stolen. 

How does filing a claim for a stolen car work?

Filing a claim for a stolen car is just like filing a claim for any other type of damage — you’ll need to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the theft, and provide documentation like a police report.

In order to use your comprehensive coverage, you need to pay a deductible for your insurance to cover the remaining cost of what your car was worth. So let’s say your car was worth about $5,500 at the time it was stolen, and your deductible is $500. Your insurance company would send you a check for $5,000 to buy a new car of a similar make and model, which is the car’s value minus your deductible amount. 

Remember that you’ll also be paid out the actual cash value of your stolen car. That’s the value that your car insurance company calculates your car to be worth, factoring in depreciation. Even if you paid $13,000 for your car a few years ago, your insurance company may determine that your car’s current actual cash value is only $8,000, and write you a check for that amount, minus your deductible. 

If you want to buy a more expensive vehicle, you would need to pay the rest out of pocket. If you disagree with your insurance company’s valuation of your car, you may be able to dispute it, especially if you can show proof that cars of the same make and model are worth more on the current market.

Now 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 you're getting coverage that matches your needs.

New car replacement coverage

New car replacement coverage is another optional add-on that can come in handy if your car is stolen. It can pay to replace your car with a similar make and model, but it’s usually only available if you are the original owner of a car that is only one or two years old.

The exact cost of new car replacement coverage varies based on your vehicle, but it can cost around $120 per year to add to your policy. It may be worth adding new car replacement coverage to your policy if your car is new and you can’t afford to replace it in the event of a total loss. 

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.

What to do if your car is stolen

If your car’s been stolen and you have comprehensive coverage, these are the steps you can take to be covered for your loss:

  1. Call the police - If you notice that your car is not where you left it, call 911 to file a police report. The police will ask you for basic information like the make and model of your car, your license plate number, and possibly the vehicle identification number

  2. Contact your insurance company - Next, you should reach out to your insurer to start the claim-filing process. Most companies have a claims portal, online or through an app, that allows you to file a claim quickly and easily. Your insurance provider will send you a check for the amount your car was worth, minus the deductible

  3. Call your homeowners or renters insurance provider - If you think that personal items have been stolen from your car, you should file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance. The personal property coverage in your policy will replace your stolen belongings up to your coverage limit

Frequently Asked Questions

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, 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.

Does car insurance cover vandalism?

Yes, car insurance will cover vandalism if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your policy. Comprehensive coverage pays to repair dents, scratches, slashed tires, and broken windows and windshields.

What happens when your car is stolen and recovered?

If your stolen vehicle has been recovered, let your insurance company know as soon as possible. You will be required to either turn in the recovered vehicle or return the payment you received for the replacement.