Car break-ins could happen anytime, anywhere. If someone successfully breaks into your car, then they might be able to steal it. Auto theft is a significant threat in most communities. As a result, auto insurers will often cover the associated losses. However, there are still steps that you need to take to protect the vehicle regardless. So, along with buying car insurance, also invest in a few helpful car security practices.
Some Auto Theft Statistics
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were nearly 750,000 vehicle thefts in the United States in 2018. This was a rate of approximately 228 per 100,000 people.
There will be costs associated with a car theft. They might be the cost of a rental or replacement car, or the cost of repairing a recovered vehicle. The average cost of a vehicle theft was about $8,400 in 2018. That is a big loss for any vehicle owner, and not one that they should have to bear alone.
The solution comes from auto insurance. Most policies can offer coverage for theft, but you must tell your agent to include it on the policy.
Car Insurance for Vehicle Theft
If someone steals your car, then you could be without a vehicle and your wallet could face a big hit. Car theft usually is not the owner’s fault, so as a result your car insurance will usually cover the damage. You have already experienced a big violation of your personal security, so why should you have to shell out a lot of money to get back on your feet? Most auto insurance policies cover theft losses through comprehensive auto insurance. This is coverage that pays for vehicle damage from hazards that are not related to wrecks.
Most states require drivers to carry car insurance. Still, a basic policy does not usually offer comprehensive coverage. However, still ask your agent about adding this coverage to your policy. Though the state itself might not require comprehensive coverage, others could. Many lenders or dealers require those who finance or lease vehicles with them to carry this coverage. The comprehensive coverage will help them protect their own investment in the car.
How Comprehensive Coverage Works
Under comprehensive car insurance, you can receive coverage both for a full vehicle theft and for vandalism caused by an attempted theft. Once you make a claim on your policy, your agent will help you determine the settlement the policy will provide.
If you can recover a stolen car, then your comprehensive coverage can pay to repair any damage. If the car is a total loss, then the policy can supply a settlement that you can use to put towards a new car. Keep in mind, however, that a couple of restrictions on coverage will apply.
- Comprehensive coverage usually includes a deductible. The policyholder must pay the cost of the deductible before the insurer will pay the rest of their claim cost. For example, if you have a $500 comprehensive damage deductible, and someone steals your $3,000 car, then your insurer will pay you only up to $2,500 to replace the car. The remaining $500 is your responsibility.
- If you cannot recover a stolen car, then the settlement you receive will likely be your car’s actual cash value (ACV). This is not the cost of a new car. It is the car’s used value at the time of the theft. Most cars depreciate over time. So, you will have a gap between what your insurer will pay you and what amount you will need to buy a new car.
Still, some policies cover a vehicle at its replacement cost. Others offer gap insurance that will help you pay the difference between a cash value settlement and your vehicle’s outstanding car loan (if you have them). Policies can usually include rental car reimbursement coverage that will help you rent a temporary vehicle in the meantime.
Preventing Theft to Your Vehicle
Though your auto insurance can provide comprehensive coverage for theft, you still don’t want to ever have to make a claim. Not only is theft a big headache, but claims on your policy might lead to higher rates in the future. Prevention is still your best bet. A few best practices to prevent theft include:
- Always locking your car, even when parked in your garage or driveway.
- Parking in well-lit, populated areas. Isolated cars are easier to steal because thieves can make clean getaways.
- Arming your security system and keeping your windows rolled up.
- Not leaving valuables in the car.
- Placing a camera or motion-activated light on your driveway.
- Parking the car where you can see it.
Still, if the worst does occur, then call the police to report the theft. Give them your vehicle identification number (VIN) and registration information. They can then help you complete a police report and start a search for the car. Afterwards, you can call your insurer to alert them of the theft and file a claim for the loss.
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