Car theft: you may think it will never happen to you. According to the FBI however, it is one of the most common crimes in the country; every 44 seconds someone discovers their car has been stolen. In this article we discuss how to handle the situation after discovering your car was stolen, the proper coverage you'd need, and how to maneuver through the claims process.
What to Do After Your Car Is Stolen
If your car is stolen the first thing to do is call 911. Most companies cannot honor a theft claim unless there is a police report. Only after the report is filed can you call your insurance company or file a claim online. Even if you do not have coverage, your company needs to be notified so that you will not be held responsible for any damage incurred while the vehicle is stolen.
According to GEICO, you will want to have the following information ready when you make your claim.
- Certificate of title for the vehicle
- Location of all keys to vehicle
- Names and information of all who have access to the vehicle
- Description of the vehicle, mileage, service records and upgrades
- A list of personal property that was in the car
- The contact to your leasing company if you lease the car
It is important that everything in your claim is consistent and truthful. Replacing a stolen car means paying you the total value of the car. Before paying such a large expense, the insurance company will be careful to make sure the car was actually stolen. If there are any inconsistencies in your report, that can be a red flag to them--even if it was unintentional. It is also why you should report the car stolen as soon as possible, a delay in filing a claim can be seen as another red flag. The last thing you want is a battle proving your claim is legitimate.
Making Sure You Have "Stolen Car Insurance"
Car insurance has many parts and if you opted for basic coverage you most likely are not insured against things like theft. There is no such thing as "Stolen Car Insurance", but there is comprehensive coverage. Besides protecting your car from theft, comprehensive insurance also protects your car from vandalism and damage caused by “Acts of God”.
The coverage is optional in every state, but highly recommended. Thefts, bad weather and other non-accident related damage is hard to control, but comprehensive insurance makes it much more manageable. It is also cheaper than its counterpart, collision insurance. A car insurance quote from New York for example priced a year’s worth of comprehensive coverage for only $94--almost four times less than collision coverage.
What to Do After You Filed A Stolen Car Claim
There is not much you can do at this point other than wait. If your car is recovered, you will want to check right away to see if any of your personal property has been taken. Your comprehensive policy will not cover anything stolen that was not a part of the car. It is up to your renters or homeowner’s policy to cover you for those. Next, you'd take the recovered car to a claims adjuster to be sure that no damage taken in its absence will count against you.
Unfortunately, most cars are not recovered after being stolen. Your company will generally want to wait a few days to declare it unrecoverable. If that is the case, you may need to rent a car in the short term and plan on buying a new car for the long term. If you have rental car reimbursement coverage then the company will pay for at least a part of the rental costs. The coverage will usually cover you for $30 to $50 per day, until about $1,500, giving you about a month. In that time your company will be reviewing your claim.
If you answered everything truthfully there is no reason for them to deny your claim. The next obstacle you are likely to face however is the amount you should be reimbursed. The company will pay you the equivalent amount to the car’s worth at the time of it being stolen. You will want to check the value of your car yourself to make sure they are paying you the correct amount. Sites like kellybluebook.com will allow you to do so. If you feel the amount you are getting is less than what you should be, you are allowed to decline it and negotiate a better offer.