The idea of someone burglarizing your vehicle is scary. No one wants to think of themselves or their family being put in danger, or being left without their main mode of transportation. Unfortunately, theft happens even when you least expect it. It's important to know your next steps in case this ever happens to you or a family member.
Never Fight A Thief
In the unfortunate situation where you or a loved one is in the vehicle when it is stolen, never try to physically attack the burglar. Most car thieves carry some form of weapon on them. The vehicle is replaceable — you aren't.
Call The Police
The instant you realize your vehicle has been stolen, contact the authorities. Make sure to recount as many details of the event as possible. Contrary to popular belief, most thieves aren't strangers. Instead, they are often people you know — such as neighbors. Always know and be able to provide your vehicle's make, model, color and license plate number. You may be asked to provide identification or proof of ownership/insurance of the vehicle.
Let Your Insurance Agent Know What Happened
Some people think that having police track down the vehicle can avoid the need to file an insurance claim. While this is occasionally true, leaving your insurance agency in the dark can be dangerous. Before a theft ever occurs, make sure your auto insurance policy has comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage provides compensation for damage or loss of the vehicle due to fire, falling objects, wind, hail, vandalism and theft. This is the coverage that will provide compensation to you after the vehicle is stolen. Without this coverage, you will not be covered if someone steals your vehicle and causes damage.
Report the Theft To Your DMV
Most DMVs work with police forces to track and find stolen vehicles. If someone tries to change the title or plates, the DMV can notify the police.
Safeguard Your Car
If you didn't already have safety measures on your car, now is a good time to apply them. Having an anti-theft system can help prevent would-be carjackers. Even having a light on the dash can deter thieves who are looking for a quick and easy theft. Make sure to keep valuable items in the car out of sight from the windows and, whenever possible, keep the vehicle in a locked garage or well-lit area.
What Happens If The Thief Causes A Wreck In My Car?
Thankfully, insurance is flexible when it comes to damages caused by others. So long as the vehicle is reported stolen and your insurance agency is aware of the incident, damages that are caused by the thief (including bodily injury and property damage) should be covered.
What If My Car Is Found?
This is where the situation can grow tricky with your insurance agency. Say you've already filed a claim and received compensation for the lost car, but then the vehicle is found. What happens now? Since the insurance carrier paid compensation, they can claim the vehicle as theirs, leaving you to purchase the vehicle back. If you've already purchased a replacement vehicle, this may not be a big deal. All cases are handled individually and there is no sure way to decide how the insurance agency will handle the situation.
Either way, it's crucial to keep your insurance agency updated about lost, stolen or found vehicles. Keeping secrets from your insurance agency can lead to you not having coverage when you need it. And any sign of fraudulence can convince an insurance agency to cancel your car insurance policy.
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