Having your car stolen is truly tragic. And while you might assume your auto insurance has your back, this is usually the case only if you’re carrying comprehensive coverage.
Let’s dig into what car insurance coverages you’d need to protect you against theft, then look at what would happen in the event of your car going missing.
- You’ll only be protected against theft if you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy.
- In the event of a covered theft claim, your insurer will likely compensate you for the actual cash value (ACV) of your stolen vehicle.
- Theft coverage for your car doesn’t cover personal items taken from your car—that would fall under your renters or homeowners insurance policy.
- There are various devices, including some that are simple and affordable, that can deter would-be car thieves.
Here are the specific topics we’ll be covering, so feel free to skip ahead:
- Which type of car insurance covers theft?
- What’s Actual Cash Value?
- Does comprehensive coverage cover the theft of individual car parts?
- Do I have to file a police report if my car gets stolen?
- What happens after I file a stolen car claim?
- Are there scenarios in which my theft claim might be denied?
- Anti-theft devices to deter car theft
- Ways that thieves often steal cars
- Is comprehensive coverage worth it, and what else does it cover?
Which type of car insurance covers theft?
Whether car insurance covers car theft depends on the specific policy and the types of coverage a policyholder has chosen. If you’ve settled on the most barebones coverages, it’s likely it won’t cover your car being stolen.
Here are the different coverages you can layer on when building your car insurance policy. Obviously, more protection will tend to equal a higher monthly premium.
Liability insurance is the most basic form of coverage, the one that’s legally required in most jurisdictions. This coverage is for bodily injury and property damage to others you might cause during an at-fault accident. However, liability insurance does not cover car theft or any damage to your own car.
Comprehensive insurance is one component of what people sometimes call “full coverage“. Comprehensive includes protection against non-collision-related incidents, such as theft! And it can also kick in the case of vandalism, fire, natural disasters, and collisions with animals. It’s often referred to as “other than collision” coverage.
Collision insurance will help repair or replace your vehicle if it is involved in an accident, regardless of who’s at fault. Like liability insurance, collision coverage does not cover car theft. When you buy a Lemonade Car policy, know that you’ll need to include comprehensive coverage in order to add collision coverage.
If a policyholder has comprehensive insurance and their vehicle is stolen, the insurer will typically pay out the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle at the time of theft, minus the deductible. The deductible for your comprehensive coverage might be different than the deductible for your collision coverage—check your policy.
If your car is stolen, and you have comprehensive coverage, you’d be eligible to receive compensation. But the money you get won’t equal what you paid for your car initially, or what it would cost to replace it with a brand new ride of the same type.
Actual Cash Value (ACV) takes into account depreciation, which is the decrease in your car’s value over time due to factors like age, wear and tear, and market conditions.
Fair warning: The ACV might be lower than the amount you still owe on a car loan or lease. If you’re concerned about this, investigate gap insurance.
Does comprehensive coverage cover theft of parts of the car, too?
Generally, yes. If someone runs off with your hubcaps, mirrors, or your catalytic converter, you could file a claim for the loss. Ditto if there’s a break-in and someone steals your dashboard components, or yanks off your steering wheel to add to their Museum of Weird Car Stuff.
If parts of your car are stolen, you would need to file a claim with your insurance company, providing details of the theft and the items that were taken.
In most cases, the insurance company would cover the cost of replacing the stolen parts, minus your comprehensive deductible.
What if the personal items inside my car get stolen?
If you’ve got a laptop in your backseat and this gets stolen during a car break-in, it’s not covered by your auto insurance. This theft would fall under your renters insurance or homeowners insurance.
Do I have to file a police report if my car (or its parts) are stolen?
Yup! It is essential to file a police report immediately. Your insurance company will likely require it.
Filing a police report involves providing the police with all relevant information about the stolen vehicle. That means:
- License plate number
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
You should also tell the cops about the circumstances surrounding the theft and any potential evidence or witnesses who may have spotted something.
Once the police report has been filed, you will receive a case number. Keep it! This case number will be necessary when you submit a theft claim to your insurance company.
In addition to filing a police report, tell your insurance company about the theft ASAP.
What happens after I file a stolen car claim?
The details can vary—and we won’t get into all the specific time frames here, since it’s best to read your individual policy.
But in general, most insurers will wait for a period of 30 days after a claim to make a compensation decision (aka, whether you’ll be compensated for the loss of the car). This allows time for law enforcement to potentially recover the vehicle.
Obviously, you’ll need a way to get around in the meantime. Your insurer will likely cover reasonable transportation expenses. At Lemonade Car, that means that you’ll be eligible for compensation for things like a rental car, starting 48 hours (an industry standard) after you report the theft to us.
Are there scenarios in which my car theft claim might be denied?
There are, and they tend to revolve around the concept of “negligence,” aka “something you did that possibly led to the theft.”
Here’s some examples, though every insurer (and claim) is unique:
- Leaving keys in the ignition
- Failing to lock doors and windows
- Persistently parking in high-risk areas
- Ignoring or intentionally disabling security devices
- Neglecting necessary repairs or maintenance that could compromise your vehicle’s security, such as broken locks or malfunctioning alarms
- Not reporting the theft promptly
- You knowingly let an unlicensed, uninsured, or intoxicated person to drive your car, after which it’s stolen
What sort of anti-theft devices can prevent car theft?
Thieves like things quick and easy. The more difficult you can make it to steal your car, the more of a chance that they’ll leave your wheels alone.
Here are some possible deterrents to consider;
- Steering wheel lock: Simple, fairly cheap, and visible.
- Electronic immobilizer: A security feature integrated into a vehicle’s ignition system. It prevents the engine from starting unless the correct key, which has a unique transponder code, is used.
- Car alarm: The audible noise might scare thieves away (although in a city, people arguably tend to ignore car alarms).
- Vehicle tracking system: A vehicle tracking system uses GPS technology to track a vehicle’s location in real time.
- Tire locks: Physical devices that lock onto a wheel.
- VIN etching: Engraving the vehicle identification number (VIN) onto various parts of the car, such as windows and body panels. This can make it harder for thieves to sell stolen vehicles or their parts.
- Kill switch: An electrical device that interrupts the flow of electricity to the fuel pump or ignition system, preventing the engine from starting. It can be hidden in the vehicle, requiring the driver to activate it before taking off.
- Smart keys: They can automatically unlock the doors and start the engine without the need for a traditional key, making it more challenging for a thief to steal the car without the smart key.
- Dash cameras: These can record video footage of potential thieves, which can help the cops find who stole your car.
Ways that thieves steal cars
Car thieves are nothing if not creative. Here are some of the ways they might try to finagle their way behind your wheel.
- Getting in through an open door or window (and simply driving off, if you’ve left your car with the keys in the ignition while you “just run into a store”).
- Simply stealing your keys from an unattended bag.
- Keyless entry hacks, aka ‘relay attacks’ (these can allow the thief to unlock and turn on the car without having the actual key).
- Hot-wiring: Skilled thieves may bypass the ignition system by manipulating the wiring to start the car without a key. This is harder on newer cars.
- Slim jims and lockout tools: Thieves may use specialized tools like slim jims or Big Easy lockout tools to unlock vehicle doors by manipulating the internal lock mechanism, breaking in without causing noticeable damage.
- Carjacking: This violent method involves a thief forcibly taking a vehicle from its owner. Carjackings typically occur in areas where drivers are vulnerable, such as at traffic stops or in parking lots.
- Tow-away theft: Ambitious thieves may use a tow truck or flatbed truck to physically remove a vehicle from where it’s parked.
Is comprehensive coverage worth it? What else does it cover besides theft?
Comprehensive insurance generally covers a range of non-collision-related incidents, providing protection against various unexpected events. Here are ten examples of instances that could be covered by comprehensive insurance, aside from theft:
- Vandalism (smashed windows, someone’s name keyed into your door).
- Weather-related damage: Damage caused by severe weather events, such as strong winds, lightning strikes, heavy snow and ice, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, hailstorms, or floods
- Fire: Damage resulting from a vehicle fire, whether due to mechanical issues, arson, or wildfires.
- Falling objects like tree branches, rocks, or flying junk from construction sites.
- Damage resulting from a collision with an animal.
- Windshield or window damage, whether it’s a crack, chip, or complete breakage.
- Damage to your vehicle caused during protests, riots, or other civil unrest events.
- Damage from an explosion, either from an accident, such as a gas tank explosion or an external source, like a gas line explosion.
Get covered with Lemonade Car
We want you to have peace of mind on the road. And a Lemonade Car policy, with comprehensive coverage included, will protect you if your precious ride is ever stolen (or vandalized, or crushed by a tree, or set on fire by an angry ex…)
To get your Lemonade Car quote rolling, simply click the button below.
A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage and discounts may not be available in all states.