Will my car insurance cover theft of items from my car?

It's very rare to find car insurance that covers theft of personal items from the car. Comprehensive insurance covers theft of items attached to the car, but usually personal items are not covered. A homeowner's insurance policy will cover such theft, but deductibles can be as high as $2,000.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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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: Jan 28, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Normally car insurance policies do not cover stolen property from your vehicle
  • Some car insurance providers offer additional coverage through policies called riders
  • To protect your personal property, you should invest in a homeowners or renter’s policy

If you have any goods or personal property stolen from your car, don’t count on your car insurance company to pay for their replacement.

Car insurance policies are not intended to provide coverage for personal property in most circumstances.

If you have the bad habit of leaving things in your car that could be inviting to thieves, your best bet is to find a way to break yourself of the habit before a theft occurs.

If you absolutely must leave valuable items in your car for any reason, find a way to hide them from view.

Thieves who target personal goods prefer quick entry and exit, so if they cannot see goods in your car, or if those goods are too difficult to get quickly, they will more than likely move on to an easier target.

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What does my car insurance cover?

There are two types of car insurance:

  • Minimum liability Required by each individual state to protect against bodily injury, property damage, and uninsured/underinsured drivers
  • Comprehensive coverage – Covers the repair or replacement cost of your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident or fire, or stolen

The minimum coverage is only intended to cover the victims of an accident and their real property; it doesn’t cover your personal property above and beyond the car itself.

Since personal items left in your car are not directly related to repairing or replacing it, they will not be covered by your car insurance policy unless your particular provider allows you to purchase such coverage as a rider.

To protect your personal property, purchase homeowners or renters insurance.

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Will my homeowner’s policy cover items stolen out of my car?

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy covers almost all of your personal property, including items stolen from your car, your boat, a hotel room, etc.

The only downside to this is the fact that the deductible on most homeowner’s policies is rather substantial.

Unless the value of the goods stolen from your car is relatively high, it might be cheaper for you to replace them out-of-pocket rather than pay the deductible and have your insurance company replace them.

Renter’s insurance policies tend to be somewhat less expensive regarding deductible amounts, and in many cases, renters insurance will cover stolen goods at a lower cost than a homeowner’s policy.

Obviously, renters insurance will vary from one provider to the next, and your policy may or may not have a substantial deductible.

Regardless, renters insurance covers personal property in the same way a homeowners policy does.

What if the stolen items belong to someone else?

Your policy covers only your personal property unless otherwise specified.

Since car insurance does not normally cover stolen goods, the best thing you can do is simply not leave valuable items in your car. In effect, you are self-insuring whenever you do so.

Encourage your friends to do the same especially when it comes to leaving items in your car!

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Does auto insurance cover cellphone theft?

A stolen cell phone is typically not covered by comprehensive car insurance, though comprehensive insurance will cover theft of items attached to the vehicle. The average cost of comprehensive coverage is $160 a year, or $13 a month.

  • Basic liability insurance will not cover stolen cell phones
  • Comprehensive insurance will usually not cover cellphones and other personal items stolen from your vehicle
  • You can talk with your insurance agent to see if your plan will cover a stolen cell phone
  • Stolen cell phones are usually not covered under your comprehensive car insurance coverage. The average cost of comprehensive coverage is $160 a year, or just $13 a month.

When shopping for car insurance, almost all consumers choose to go with the lowest priced policies. Even with full coverage, many car insurance policies don’t 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. Car insurance does cover vandalism, however.

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, but usually not coverage for personal items like phones.

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

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?

As soon as you notice that your phone is missing, you should consider the following:

  • 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?

While car insurance coverage does not cover phone theft, other types of cell phone replacement insurance coverage might. If you had a brand-new phone and can provide your insurance agent with a receipt, you will not 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.

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What happens if your stolen phone is found or returned?

If you’ve 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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  1. https://www.progressive.com/answers/contents-insurance/
  2. https://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm
  3. https://www.allstate.com/tools-and-resources/car-insurance/liability-car-insurance-cover.aspx
  4. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/rider.asp
  5. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/homeowners_insurance.asp

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