Does car insurance cover theft?

Car theft is a pressing concern for many vehicle owners, prompting the question: Does car insurance cover theft? As we delve into the intricacies of auto insurance policies, it’s crucial to understand the specific provisions that address stolen vehicles and how they offer protection to policyholders.

Key Takeaways

  • Whether your car insurance will cover the theft of a vehicle or damage from a break-in depends on what kind of coverage you purchased.
  • Comprehensive auto insurance generally covers theft and vandalism.
  • Car insurance typically doesn’t cover theft of personal property inside the car—for that, you’ll need to check your homeowners or renters policies.
  • File a police report and an insurance claim as soon as possible after a theft happens.

What Kind of Car Insurance Covers Theft?

Car insurance offers various options for drivers. At its core, there’s Liability insurance, which covers injuries and property damage from accidents. This type of coverage is required in all states except New Hampshire. 

What Kind of Car Insurance Covers Theft?

However, if you’re concerned about damages to your own car from collisions, be it with another vehicle or an object like a telephone pole, you’ll need Collision insurance. It’s important to note that neither Liability nor Collision insurance covers car theft. For protection against theft, break-ins, or damages from natural causes like storms and falling objects, you should consider Comprehensive insurance. This policy also provides coverage in case of damages from animal encounters.

What Comprehensive Car Insurance Covers

Comprehensive car insurance offers a range of protections for vehicle owners. Firstly, it covers the cost if your car gets stolen. It also pays for the replacement of stolen car parts like a catalytic converter, but not custom additions such as aftermarket sound systems. Additionally, it covers repair costs if your car is damaged during a theft, break-in, or an attempted break-in. If thieves take your car and later authorities recover it in a damaged condition, this insurance will cover those repairs.

However, be mindful of your deductible. Let’s say your deductible is $500 and your car’s value is $7,000. In this case, you’d receive $6,500 from the insurance company, deducting the initial $500.

Furthermore, comprehensive insurance extends its coverage to other unforeseen events. It includes damages caused by vandalism, fires, natural disasters like floods and hail, falling objects such as tree branches, and even collisions with animals.

Despite its benefits, no state law compels you to have comprehensive insurance. But if you’re financing or leasing your vehicle, your lender might require it to safeguard their investment.

Remember, while comprehensive insurance covers car theft, it doesn’t cover personal items stolen from inside the vehicle. For instance, if someone steals your laptop from your car, this insurance won’t cover it. However, your homeowners, condo, or renters insurance might.

Lastly, if you need a rental car because your vehicle was stolen or damaged, comprehensive insurance won’t cover that cost. For such situations, consider adding rental reimbursement insurance to your policy.

Recovered Cars and Comprehensive Car Insurance

If you’ve filed a comprehensive insurance claim for a stolen car and later it’s found, the scenario changes depending on the claim’s status. If you’ve already received compensation from the insurance company, they will take ownership of the recovered car.

Recovered Cars and Comprehensive Car Insurance

On the other hand, if your car is found before you’ve been compensated and it’s damaged, your comprehensive insurance steps in. They’ll cover the repair costs up to the car’s actual cash value, after deducting your chosen deductible.

Moreover, sometimes the damage to a recovered car might be so severe that it’s considered totaled. If this happens before your claim is settled, the insurance company will treat it like a lost car. They’ll subtract your deductible and pay you the car’s actual cash value.

Car theft and insurance scenarios

When your car faces unfortunate incidents, the way your insurance helps depends on the situation and the type of coverage you have:

Situation 1: Someone broke into your car and caused damage. 

Good news for those with comprehensive coverage: this policy typically pays for repairs stemming from break-ins, covering issues like broken windows, damaged door locks, or a compromised ignition system.

Situation 2: Your car was stolen. 

Again, if you’re protected with comprehensive insurance, you’re covered. The insurance will compensate you for the value of your stolen vehicle.

Situation 3: Personal items went missing from your car. 

Now, this is where things differ. While your insurance will cover the vehicle and its permanent, pre-installed components, it won’t account for personal belongings like your phone or bag. But there’s a silver lining: homeowners or renters insurance often covers these items. 

In this case, to get compensation for both the car and your personal items, you’d have to file separate claims with your auto and homeowners insurance respectively.

How Can I Prevent My Car From Being Stolen?

Protecting your car from theft involves a multi-layered approach, as recommended by the NICB:

How Can I Prevent My Car From Being Stolen?

1. Basic Safety Measures

The foundation of car security is rooted in simple habits:

  • Always lock your doors.
  • Never leave your keys in the ignition.
  • Ensure your windows are completely closed.
  • Preferably, park in well-lit zones.

2. Visible and Audible Deterrents

Enhance security by making potential thieves aware that your car isn’t an easy target. Some effective tools include:

  • Car alarms that sound when there’s unauthorized access.
  • Devices like brake locks and steering wheel or pedal locks.
  • Marking techniques like window etching or microdot marking to trace parts.
  • Use of security labels on various car components.

3. Immobilization Techniques

This next layer is about ensuring that even if a thief gains access, they can’t easily drive away. This can be achieved by:

  • Integrating kill switches or fuse cut-offs.
  • Employing smart keys.
  • Incorporating starter, ignition, or fuel disablers.
  • Utilizing wireless ignition authentication systems.

4. Advanced Tracking Systems

The ultimate defense is ensuring you can locate your car if it’s stolen. With advancements in technology:

  • Invest in a tracking system that use GPS and wireless tech to pinpoint your car’s location.
  • Systems like LoJack have hidden transceivers, allowing authorities, including police and aircraft, to track stolen vehicles.

Remember, the more layers of security you add, the harder you make it for thieves, reducing the likelihood of car theft significantly.

How Do Insurance Companies Investigate Car Theft Claims?

When your car gets stolen and you submit an insurance claim, your insurance company will likely delve into the matter. Firstly, you must provide a police report to initiate the theft claim.

During the investigation, your insurer might tap into their special investigations unit. This thorough process usually involves reviewing the police report, interviewing witnesses, assessing the theft scene, and conducting a forensic examination if they find the car.

Furthermore, an investigator from the unit might reach out to you for additional details about the theft. In some instances, you might even need to participate in an examination under oath. This formal interview, conducted by the insurance company’s representative and documented by a court reporter, holds you accountable for your statements.


What type of insurance covers stolen cars?

 Your auto policy’s comprehensive insurance covers car theft, parts theft, and any damages due to break-ins. While this coverage is optional, it comes at an average annual cost of around $300. Additionally, comprehensive insurance protects your vehicle from specific issues, including damages from fires, floods, hail, falling objects, and animal collisions.

Does comprehensive car insurance cover a rental car if my car is stolen?

Comprehensive insurance won’t cover a rental car if your vehicle is stolen. To ensure coverage for a rental or alternative transportation like city buses, commuter trains, or rideshares like Uber or Lyft while your claim is processed, consider adding rental reimbursement insurance to your policy.

Does comprehensive car insurance cover personal items stolen from my car?

While comprehensive insurance doesn’t cover items stolen from your vehicle, your home, renters, or condo insurance typically does. So, if a thief takes your laptop from your car, you can claim it under your home insurance. However, keep in mind that your home insurance deductible will still apply.

Will I get a car insurance discount for anti-theft devices?

If your car is fitted with an anti-theft device, whether it’s factory-installed or aftermarket, you might be eligible for a discount on your car insurance. Such discounts can vary, but they typically range from 5% to 25% off your comprehensive coverage, depending on the insurer. Devices that often qualify for these discounts include stolen-vehicle recovery systems such as LoJack, GPS-based systems like OnStar’s “remote ignition block,” and VIN etching—a process where your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) is permanently engraved on its windows and windshield.

The Bottom Line

While many car insurance policies exist, only certain ones protect against break-ins or theft. State-required minimum insurance doesn’t cover these scenarios. For theft protection, you need comprehensive insurance, but this doesn’t cover personal items inside the car. To claim those, turn to your homeowners or renters policy. Always file a police report and insurance claim promptly after noticing the theft.

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