If your vehicle is stolen, you’ll have to report your stolen car to a few different parties. First, contact law enforcement so you can file a police report, you’ll need that in order to file a claim. Then report the stolen car to your insurance company and your vehicle’s leasing or financing company.
Your auto insurance coverage will pay to replace your stolen car (as long as you have a full-coverage policy). If you don’t have comprehensive coverage — or you don’t have car insurance at all — you’ll have to replace your car yourself.
How do you report a stolen car?
From 2011 to 2020 there were 2.3 million incidents of stolen vehicles, and the rate of stolen cars rose by about 3% during this period. 
If your vehicle becomes one of the hundreds of thousands stolen each year, here’s what you need to do to report your stolen car:
Notify law enforcement and file a police report
Report your stolen car to your insurance provider
Let your vehicle’s lienholder know about the stolen car
Depending on the details of your car insurance policy, theft may be covered. Comprehensive coverage, which is part of every full-coverage policy, is what covers things like theft and vandalism.
As long as you have the necessary coverage, you can work with your insurance company to make a claim on the stolen vehicle and pay your lienholder (if you have one).
File a stolen car report with the police
You should contact the police as soon as you suspect your car has been stolen. Insurance companies require a police report before you can make a claim for the stolen car. Contacting authorities quickly also increases the chance of you getting your car back.
You should have several pieces of information on hand when you make a police report for a stolen car. You should know your car’s:
Make and model
License plate number
Vehicle identification number (VIN)
GPS or tracking system information
You should also be prepared to give authorities as much information as you can about where you parked your car before it was stolen and when you last saw it, including any photos that show where the car was parked, or names and contact information for any potential witnesses.
More details could help authorities locate the car using security cameras in the area.
Report a stolen car to your insurance company
After you’ve contacted the police about your vehicle, you should report your stolen car to your car insurance company. Your insurance provider will be able to tell you whether your policy covers theft, if you’re unsure.
Not every car insurance policy will cover a stolen car. Your insurance company will only cover a stolen car if you have comprehensive coverage, which is what covers damage that’s not caused by a collision, like fire, weather, animal damage, vandalism, and theft.
Even if you know you don’t have comprehensive coverage, you should still contact your insurance company and let them know your car was stolen. That way you can make sure you won’t be liable for any damage the car thief causes with your vehicle.
What happens when your car is stolen without insurance?
Since theft is only covered if you have full-coverage auto insurance, some drivers who report their stolen cars to their insurance companies will find out their policy doesn’t cover them.
You’ll have to pay out of pocket to replace your vehicle if you don’t have comprehensive insurance (or any insurance coverage).
How to report a stolen car to your lender
You’ll also have to report your stolen vehicle to your car’s lender or financer after it’s taken. Since your car’s lienholder has a legal claim to the car, it can contact your insurance company and speed up the claims process for you.
Any claim you get for your stolen car will also go to the lienholder so their stake in the car can be settled. This is why lienholders require drivers to have comprehensive and collision coverages.
Do you report a stolen car to the DMV?
You may also have to report your stolen car to the DMV, but the laws vary by state. You might have to fill out a loss form at your DMV — but this type of form will be different from the police report you file with law enforcement.
Because each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has different procedures after a car theft, you should check with your local DMV if your car is stolen. They’ll tell you about any forms you’ll have to fill out or processes you must follow afterwards.
When your car is missing but not actually stolen
Before you report your car stolen, double check to make sure you’re actually in the right place. There are smartphone apps you can install that pair with your car and help you track it down if you think you may have forgotten where you parked it.
If you parked illegally, or if you owe money on parking tickets or other violations, it’s also possible that your car was towed.
Depending on where you are, your city may have a hotline or an online tool that will let you look up a towed vehicle if you have the license plate number, and give you instructions to retrieve it.