Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for CarInsuranceCompanies.com with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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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

UPDATED: Sep 14, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • Most auto thieves look for cars which are easily stripped for parts and cars like the Toyota Camry are popular targets for auto theft no matter where you live
  • It’s critical you step back for a moment and make sure in fact your car was stolen and then call 911
  • If you have comprehensive car insurance coverage then most likely you are insured for loss due to auto theft however how much you are insured for will depend on the details of your coverage
  • Always ask your insurance company about the details of coverage in the event of auto theft before accepting a policy

Do you know the steps to take if your car gets stolen? Auto theft is a serious and frequent occurrence in the USA and some of the most popular cars are prime targets rather than just luxury automobiles.

Most auto thieves look for cars which are easily stripped for parts and cars like the Toyota Camry are popular targets for auto theft no matter where you live.

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Table of Contents

Are you covered for auto theft under your car insurance policy?

If not, today is a good to time to compare car insurance companies and make sure you have auto theft insurance coverage in your policy.

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First Response in the event of Car Theft

Many people call 911 to report a car missing only to realize it was parked somewhere else or a family member took the keys for a grocery store run.

It’s critical you step back for a moment and make sure in fact your car was stolen and then call 911. The number of false alarms to 911 for auto theft is alarming.

If you witness your car being stolen it’s certainly no time to play superhero. Most people have car insurance coverage to cover auto theft and there is no reason to risk personal injury (or death) just to save a hunk of metal unless of course, you moonlight as the real Batman.

Call 911 as soon as you can and try to remember as many details as you can including what the thieves were wearing and any reference to height, weight and race but don’t go so close they can actually see you.

Stealing a car takes only a few moments and if you can process the information and call 911 right away the odds are greatly increased your car will be recovered.

Always know your license plate by heart!

Do you know most drivers have no idea what their license plate is when asked? This will be the easiest way to identify your car when first calling 911 so try to add your license plate number to the important list of things to memorize (like your social security number).

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How Car Insurance Covers Auto Theft

If you have comprehensive car insurance coverage then most likely you are insured for loss due to auto theft however how much you are insured for will depend on the details of your coverage.

Many times drivers will only be reimbursed for book value which may cause a shortage to any auto loan financing you have.

It’s important to understand car insurance coverage so you have the coverage in place to get sufficient reimbursement in the event of auto theft.

Auto theft claims will take some time to process so this is a good example of why adding rental car coverage to your auto insurance policy is valuable.

While the insurance company is waiting to recover the car or decide whether or not to pay a claim based on auto theft you will need alternative transportation. Rental coverage often provides this for at least 30 days but does vary from one provider to another.

What kind of car theft claim do I submit?

This will depend on whether or not your car was recovered after the initial car theft. Many times vehicles are found with little damage as kids were simply joy-riding but you still need to submit a claim for damage.

If there are damages to the vehicle then you need to submit a claim to your car insurance company for repairs.

Any loss of personal items will most likely fall under a homeowners insurance policy vs. an auto insurance policy but make a list of everything and contact your auto insurance company first.

If your vehicle is a total loss (including damage when recovered or simply the total disappearance of your car), then your reimbursement will be subject to a couple things which can prove to be very surprising to many drivers.

First is your reimbursement will most likely be for the book value of the car. If your car is relatively new and you secured the car with a typical car loan then the book value may be much lower than the balance of your note.

If you have GAP insurance this type of insurance will often make up the difference but without GAP car insurance any incident of car theft could actually end up costing you thousands of dollars simply from being upside down on your car loam.

Although the odds of car theft happening to you are low the financial cost can be great without the appropriate car insurance overage in place. Always ask your insurance company about the details of coverage in the event of auto theft before accepting a policy.

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References:

  1. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-do-if-your-car-stolen.htm
  2. https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2015/04/02/youre-the-prime-suspect-if-your-car-is-stolen/
  3. https://www.thebalance.com/stolen-car-insurance-claim-process-527104
  4. https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/does-car-insurance-cover-theft
  5. https://www.nasdaq.com/article/what-can-i-do-if-car-is-stolen-without-comprehensive-coverage-cm119757
  6. https://wallethub.com/answers/does-my-insurance-cover-rental-car-14/
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAP_insurance