What happens if my car is stolen?

Figuring out what to do after a car is stolen can be an intimidating process. If your car is stolen start by notifying the police and having all of your car's information on hand.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 24, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If your car is stolen, immediately call 911 and report it to the police
  • Contact your insurer and let them know that your vehicle has been stolen
  • If your car is recovered, you will need to make a claim for theft, damage or both

Do you know what to do if your car is stolen? Having a vehicle stolen is very disconcerting. Of course, we all carry car insurance for just such a possibility; however, no one ever really thinks it will happen to them.

The number of vehicles stolen in the United States every day is surprisingly high. In certain metropolitan areas, the rates are staggering. Therefore it’s not only important to know what happens if your car is stolen, but it’s also important to understand your car insurance policy.

Regardless, be sure and compare quotes on car insurance to find the best coverage for the lowest price.

Simply enter your ZIP code into the FREE tool above now!

Your First Response to Car Theft

What do you do when someone steals your car? Do police investigate car theft? If you suspect that your car has been stolen, you will need to call 911 and report it to the police. However, before you do so, be sure that you are confident in the fact that it has indeed been stolen.

Check to make sure another key holder, like a spouse, hasn’t taken it without your knowledge.

If you are in a parking lot, be sure you haven’t just forgotten where your vehicle was parked. Don’t laugh; this happens a lot!

If you happen to witness your car being stolen, do not interrupt the thieves as they may be armed and dangerous. Immediately report the incident while it is ongoing but be sure to take notice of as many details as possible.

Describe the suspects and the direction in which they were going. Take note of any other vehicle involved, including make, model, color and possibly even the tag number.

It is important to be able to give the police as much information as possible about your missing vehicle. You should automatically know the make, model, year, color and tag number of your vehicle.

What happens when you report your car as stolen? You should be able to describe anything that sets it apart like decals, bumper stickers, dents, scratches or other defining features. The VIN or Vehicle Identification Number should be easy for you to find also, as the police will indeed require it.

Having such information written down in your wallet is a good practice. While you are making your report, you will also need to let the police know about any personal effects you had left in the car.

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The Immediate Role of Insurance in Car Theft

If you have car insurance with comprehensive coverage on it, the next thing you will want to do is contact your insurer and let them know that your vehicle has been stolen. You will need to provide them with a case number as provided by the police.

If you have replacement car rental coverage, your insurance will cover the cost of a rental car for a period so that you can continue to meet your regular obligations, while waiting to find out if your car has been recovered.

You may or may not have a waiting period before you are eligible for this coverage, depending on your insurer. Be sure to ask your insurer about what to expect.

Car Recovery and Insurance Claims after the Fact

What happens when a stolen vehicle is recovered? If indeed your car is recovered, you will need to make a claim for either theft or damage or both. Vehicles are often damaged during a theft. If parts of the car are stolen or damaged you will have to make a claim on your car insurance.

However, for any personal effects that were stolen from the vehicle, you will need to make a claim against your homeowner’s insurance or tenant insurance policy.

No matter which types of claims you make, they will be subject to a deductible that you agreed to when you took out your insurance.

Because many people raise deductibles to save money, you may find that your payout is insufficient to cover your expenses. Contact your car insurance company and make sure you know your stolen car insurance payout.

Another shocker for many people is that the amount of coverage you have on your car is dependent on the value of the car, not the amount remaining on a car loan you may have.

If you do not carry gap coverage to make up the difference in the case of a total loss, you may be without a vehicle and yet still making the payments on it. The Kelley Blue Book is an excellent resource to find out the value of your stolen car.

Before you take any steps in replacing your car, be sure that your insurance claim is underway. You should also find out how much you should expect to get so that you can have a realistic idea of your budget.

If you are ready to find the best price on a full coverage insurance policy for your vehicle, a great way to start is by comparing prices from as many insurers as possible.

Enter your ZIP code into our free comparison tool below to get a quote today!

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