Does auto insurance cover cellphone theft?

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Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: May 22, 2019

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Basic liability insurance will not cover stolen cell phones
  • Comprehensive insurance will cover phones stolen from your vehicle
  • You can talk with your insurance agent to see if your plan will cover a stolen cell phone

When shopping for car insurance, almost all consumers choose to go with the lowest priced policies. Even with full coverage, many car insurance policies do not include the type of coverage that protects policyholders from vandalism and theft.

Without personal property, theft coverage, or a policy that includes vandalism protection, getting an insurance check to replace your stolen phone is not possible.

In order to be reimbursed for a phone stolen from car, you will need to be certain that you have the proper type of coverage.

Liability car insurance provides drivers with insurance to pay for damages that they might cause by hitting someone’s car or private property.

Collision coverage for car insurance is a little more substantive in that it helps policyholders to offset any costs incurred as a result of damage done to their own vehicles as well as others in an accident.

Comprehensive coverage pays for bodily harm damage and almost always includes property theft and vandalism coverage.

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How do I find out if I have personal property and theft coverage on my car insurance policy?

Car thief

When a new car insurance policy is issued, the purchaser receives a copy of the policy either by mail or in person. Before the policy is instated, the policyholder must sign a form stating that all the information was reviewed and noted.

You will see a complete breakdown of the insurance policy details and clauses included. Policyholders also have the ability to talk to their insurance agent to see exactly what type of protection is included in their car insurance policies.

The Insurance Information Institute auto theft report of 2014 reveals how many cars have been stolen in the last few years and how effective anti-theft devices are as a deterrent for vandalism.

If you have purchased comprehensive coverage  for your vehicle, any forms of theft will be covered by your insurance provider.

What steps can I take after my phone is stolen from my car?

woman driver hands use cellphone driving a car

As soon as you notice that your phone is missing, you should submit a claim to your auto insurance company. Here are some other steps to consider:

  • Tracking – If your cell phone carrier has the ability to track your stolen phone, this should provide helpful information during the investigation.
  • Shut off service – If tracking is not possible, have service shut off to your phone until you are able to get a replacement.
  • Call your insurer – Submitting an insurance claim for stolen personal property can usually be done over the phone.
    • You may need to give an oral or written statement describing the events that occurred directly before and after you noticed that your phone was gone.
    • If your car was vandalized in any way, you will also need to submit an insurance claim so that repairs can be performed.

The Better Business Bureau gives consumers the ability to make complaints when they have issues with service providers, including car insurance companies. If you believe that your claim was denied without cause, you can visit the BBB’s website for more information.

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Do car insurance companies reimburse policyholders for the full cost of stolen phones?

If you had a brand-new phone and can provide your car insurance agent with a receipt, you will get the full cost of your phone reimbursed if your claim is approved.

Because cell phones tend to depreciate after only a few months of usage, you will probably not be in a position to recover the full purchase price if it is older.

Make note of other phone accessories that may have been stolen with your cell phone:

  • Handsets
  • Chargers
  • Cases

You may be eligible for reimbursement if you are able to provide photographs, receipts, or similar forms of proof.

Your cell phone carrier might also provide you with a brand-new phone if you have purchased a warranty or insurance separately from your car insurance policy. Many times, these types of insurance plans are not based on the age or condition of the phone originally stolen.

What happens if your stolen phone is found or returned?

Up close of phone user with coffee

If you have already submitted your insurance claim and the stolen phone is returned to you, contact your insurance company for more information.

Sometimes, if your phone is returned, your claim will be denied on the basis that no harm has been done. If your phone has not been returned in the same condition, you might be able to resubmit your claim after giving your insurance agent more details.

You may have to return the money paid out by your car insurance provider if you receive your stolen phone back. There is no definitive window of time that stipulates when claims need to be paid back.

Even if several weeks have gone by and you have already purchased a replacement phone, being honest about all of the details of your claim will prevent you from having future claims denied.

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