Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you discover your car is stolen, make a police report right away and then report it to your insurance company
  • Expect that your car insurance company will check to make sure you are not filing a fraudulent claim
  • If you have comprehensive coverage, your car insurance will likely cover your loss
  • In general, valuables and personal belongings left in your vehicle are not covered under your car insurance policy, though they may be covered under your homeowners insurance policy

Selecting the right car insurance policy and company can be tricky. You do not want to be overcharged for your premium, yet you want a company that will stand behind you and work quickly should an unfortunate event happen such as having your car stolen.

If you need to find a better car insurance policy or are finding that your premiums are not quite as affordable as they used to be, consider using a car insurance price comparison calculator.

These types of tools allow you to quickly and easily compare policies and prices to ensure you are getting the best deal available. Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE quote tool above!

My car appears to have been stolen, what now?


If you have had the unfortunate experience of finding your car stolen, there are several steps you need to take in order to protect your interests and have the best chances of finding it or having your car insurance company cover the loss.

These steps include:

  • Report the theft to your local law enforcement and make a full report – If you are certain that your vehicle is missing and you do not know why, your first step should be to contact the police. You should prepare yourself to provide as much information as possible about your car and the circumstances of its disappearance.

You will need to give the police several pieces of information including your license plate number, the make, model, and year of your car, and the vehicle identification number (VIN). The VIN can be found on your car registration paperwork and your insurance card.

If your car has any distinguishing features or markings such as dents, scratches, paint discoloration, or anything else that would set it apart from other like vehicles, let the reporting officer know.

You should also let the police know of any valuables or other possessions you had in your vehicle so they can be listed on the report.

  • Search local impound lots – It is possible that your car may be in a local impound lot, so it is a good idea to call around and check. If you left your car parked where it should not have been or if it was taken by thieves and left somewhere, it may have ended up in an impound lot somewhere.
  • Contact your car insurance company – Before contacting your car insurance company, have your car title and police report in hand if possible. Be prepared to answer several questions and refer to the police report as necessary. You may be asked specific details about your vehicle, who may have had access to it, and if there may be any witnesses.

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Will my car insurance investigate my claim?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of fraud surrounding car insurance claims, including those for stolen vehicles.

You can expect your insurance company to perform its due diligence to be sure you have not filed a fraudulent claim including:

  • Checking your credit
  • Reviewing your police statement to make sure there are no gaps or changes to your story
  • Talking to family, friends, and witnesses
  • Checking your employment

The Waiting Game

You will likely be required to wait at least a certain amount of time to see if your car will be recovered. While it can be frustrating to have to wait, there are some things to be aware of during this time period.

Check to see if you have rental car reimbursement on your insurance policy. If so, you may be able to rent a car while you are waiting to see if your car will be found.

You will likely need to pay your rental car company up front, submit your receipts, and then wait to be reimbursed.

You should also keep in contact with the police department that took your report during this time frame. If your car is found, you will want to contact the police department and your car insurance company immediately.

Approximately 57 percent of stolen cars are recovered, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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What if my vehicle is not recovered?

If your vehicle is never recovered, and you had comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your insurance company will likely reimburse you for your loss.

Although policies and practices can vary from one insurance company to the next, you will generally receive a check to cover your losses within 30 days from the date your claim was filed.

If your car was recovered but was damaged, your comprehensive coverage will cover these damages as well. Your car insurance company will inform you where to take your car to have estimates done for repairs.

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What if I did not have comprehensive coverage on my stolen vehicle?

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Not having comprehensive coverage on your vehicle when you really need it can be one of the worse realizations for a driver. Although your car insurance company will not do anything to help you, you do have some recourse in other areas.

You can hire a civil attorney to represent you and if your vehicle is recovered, you can sue the thief in civil court to help cover your expenses.

Getting a civil judgment in your favor will place a legal obligation on the offender to repay you for the damages. However, they may not have the cash or assets necessary to pay you back.

Exceptions to Stolen Car Coverage

Even if you do have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, it is important to note that there are some circumstances that will cause your car insurance to reject your claim such as:

  • Loaning your car to someone
  • Not making a police report right away
  • Not taking reasonable care of your car or acting negligently, for example leaving the keys in the ignition and leaving the doors unlocked

What about my stuff?

If you had items in your vehicle that were stolen, regardless of whether your entire vehicle was stolen or not, they may not be covered under your car insurance policy. In some cases, however, your homeowner’s insurance policy may cover them.

Be sure to lock your vehicle and remove any cash, purses, wallets, portable GPS systems, CDs,cell phones, computers, tablets, mp3 players, or other expensive or irreplaceable items.

It is always important to make sure you have the legally required and appropriate types and amounts of insurance coverage on your vehicle. Not having the coverage you need can leave you in quite a bind.

To get the best prices on auto insurance, use an online price comparison tool. Enter your zip code in our FREE quote tool below to compare car insurance rates instantly!