Cars have gotten safer with technologies such as anti-theft systems, GPS, and other tracking devices. But still, if you look at the statistics, over 800,000 cars were stolen in the US in 2020. That’s awfully a lot, isn’t it? Auto theft could be rare, but you never know when someone’s prying eyes might be preparing to break into your car and drive away.
Thankfully, just like there’s auto insurance for car damage, you can get yourself comprehensive insurance. A comprehensive insurance policy covers the cost of repairs if your car gets damaged due to floods, hailstorms, projectile damage, hurricane, fires, earthquakes, etc. But that’s not all.
If you have a comprehensive policy, the auto insurance company will reimburse you for the loss. The company will calculate the actual cash value of the car. This is done by looking at the current market value of the car, demand, and other factors.
But to make sure that this process happens smoothly without any hiccups, you need to follow some steps right after you notice that your car is not where it used to be. Here are all the things you need to do if your vehicle is stolen.
Report the Theft to the Cops
It is normal for people to panic right after they notice that their car has been stolen. The first thing to do in this situation is to call the cops and report the theft. This is important for two reasons.
Firstly, according to recent statistics, almost 45% of the cars that are stolen are found on the same day if reported to the police instantly. 35% are found on the second day. So you won’t have to worry about claiming your insurance if the cops find your car.
Secondly, almost every auto insurance company will require you to show an official police report about the theft for processing your claim. This is done to prevent any insurance fraud and make sure that theft did take place. So call the cops before you do anything.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After the cops have been informed and the police report has been filed, contact your insurance agent or call your auto insurance company and tell them about the theft. They are most likely to send someone over to you to get further information.
The insurance agent will ask for details, such as the police report, and your policy number, and do some background checks. Some questions might seem accusatory but that’s all done so that the insurance company is certain it’s not insurance fraud.
They may ask who drives the car often, if someone else has the other keys if you lend the car to someone, etc. Answer every question truthfully and do not try to hide anything.
Contact the Bank or the Lender
If you bought the car on lease or in installments, then you need to contact your bank or the lender and tell them about the theft. They must know about this.
Wait for the Claim Process
Car insurance companies usually wait for around 72 hours to see if your car can be found. If it isn’t found, the claim is processed and you get reimbursed for the loss. This is where the complex part starts.
The insurance company will pay you the actual cash value of the car. This value is decided by the insurance company based on their research. You might not agree with this price and can put a counter, claiming that you had added the value of the car (with upgrades and such).
The insurance company might not agree, but if you convince them, they will increase the claim amount. It may not be the amount you wanted, but you need to come to the middle ground.
A Few More Things
If you have a renters insurance policy, you can claim that as well if there was something valuable in the car. Renters’ insurance covers everything you own, and if they are stolen (along with your car), you will be reimbursed for them. Note that renters insurance does not cover car thefts. That’s only covered under comprehensive coverage.
What Happens If Your Car is Found?
What if you get the claim amount but your car is found? Since the auto insurance company already paid the actual cash value of the car, they own it. So the car goes to them, which they’ll see to other buyers as a branded title. You always have the option to buy it back from them if you want.
Does Comprehensive Insurance Claim Increase Rates?
Making a car insurance claim increases your insurance rates for the future. But does the same apply to comprehensive policy? Yes and No. Since car theft is not your fault, the auto insurance company cannot hold you liable for it, so there won’t be any direct price hike for your plan.
But if you have no-claims bonuses for not making any insurance claims in the past, you’ll lose those discounts. You cannot do much about it. If you haven’t got a comprehensive policy, now would be a great time.
The price of comprehensive policy depends on many factors, but mostly on the state and area, you live in. It also depends on the type of car you drive. For example, Honda Accord, Civic, and Ford pickup trucks are some of the thieves’ favorite cars to steal.
Your state also matters. For example, if you live in Texas, our expert advice on finding cheap car insurance in Texas would be to compare multiple plans by different companies, and then select the one that suits you the best. This would be the best way to save money while insuring your car against theft.
Also published on Medium.