You’re walking back to the spot where you left your car, only to find it empty. Oops, must’ve parked it somewhere else, right? As you frantically scan the parking lot and push the panic button on your fob, you realize that your vehicle isn’t anywhere to be found. It’s been stolen. Here are some questions you might have:
- What do I do if my car is stolen?
- Am I covered if my car is stolen?
- How does my car insurance work if my car is stolen?
- How am I going to get around?
- Will I ever get my vehicle back?
Deep breath. We’ll walk you through each of these questions here.
What do I do if my car is stolen?
- Ensure your car was stolen. While this may sound ridiculous, there’s always the chance that you simply forgot where you parked. You might want to consider taking a moment to breathe and clear your head. Then, you can go ahead and reassess when you last saw your vehicle. There is also a chance you might have been towed, so be sure to check with any parking authorities or business owners nearby.
- Contact the police. As soon as you’re sure your car is stolen (or you’re unable to reach any parking authorities), call the police. You’ll need to make a report and provide information including a description of your vehicle. It’s always a good idea to keep a digital copy of your car’s registration, insurance, and license plate. You’ll need to provide photos as well.
- Contact your insurance broker or company. Let your broker or insurer know that your car has been stolen as soon as possible. They will be able to help you with what happens next. There will generally be a waiting period to allow the police to try to find your vehicle before your coverage will come into effect.
Am I covered if my car is stolen?
Not every car insurance policy includes coverage for theft. You are only covered if your car is stolen if you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy. Third-party liability doesn’t offer any protection for theft. If you have loss of use coverage, you may be entitled to funds for a rental car or public transit or taxi service.
How does my insurance work if my car is stolen?
If you do have comprehensive coverage, there will generally be a waiting period to allow the police time to find your vehicle. If your vehicle is found, it will be evaluated for damage just as if it had been in an accident. The insurance company will determine if it’s a write-off or if it’s reparable. If your car isn’t found, it will essentially be considered to be a write-off and you will receive payment. What you get for your vehicle will depend on your loss settlement options:
- Actual Cash Value – The market value of your car (or the price you paid minus depreciation).
- Replacement Cost – The cost of replacing your vehicle or one of similar kind and quality (restricted to vehicles of a certain age).
- Guaranteed Replacement Cost – You’ll receive your vehicle as new (limited to very new vehicles).
You will also need to pay your deductible. You may need to discuss the final price with your adjuster to account for optional features, new tires, et cetera. You’ll need to provide proof of purchase or market value.
Once everything is settled, you’ll receive your reimbursement check (or new vehicle in the case of guaranteed replacement cost). If your vehicle was simply damaged during the theft, it will be repaired and returned to you.
How am I going to get around?
If you have loss of use coverage, you may be able to get funds for public transit, taxis, or a rental car. If not, you’ll need to figure out your own way. You could rent a car, get rides, car-share, or take public transit.
Will I ever get my vehicle back?
That depends. Some vehicles are quickly found while others disappear forever. There will generally be a specific period of time that insurance companies will wait before settling a claim for vehicle theft to allow police the time to find your car.
Your insurance broker will be able to help you during this difficult time. Give them a call and they’ll walk you through the process and help where they can.
To make the best of your coverage, communicate with your car insurance claims adjuster to ensure that nothing has been overlooked, such as optional features, new tires, and so on.
A reimbursement cheque will be sent after your claim has been settled. In the event that your stolen car is recovered, there will be an extended waiting period to determine the condition of the returned vehicle.
Technically speaking, your car could be found at any time. It protects your credit rating as long as you continue to make car payments to your insurance company throughout this period.
Talk to your insurance broker about coverage for theft. They’ll also help you through the claims process in the event your vehicle is stolen.