Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?

does car insurance cover theft

Choose the Right Car Insurance Cover Theft

Car thefts have been in decline over the past couple of decades but are still all too common. And when it is your car that’s stolen, it can be an expensive headache.

Common Means of Stealing Cars

As autos have become more complicated, thieves have upped their game. Common car theft tactics today include:

  • Using smart keys
  • Switching vin numbers
  • Getting loans for expensive cars using stolen identities
  • Owners left keys or fobs in their cars

Car Theft by the Numbers

The Insurance Information Institute (III) provides the following numbers:

Motor Vehicle Theft, 2009-2018

YearVehicles stolenPercent change

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports.

Theft When the Key Was Left in the Car

According to the National Insurance Credit Bureau (NICB) thefts with keys or fobs left in the vehicle numbered 229,339 between January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018, a 56% increase over like thefts between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2015. Currently, 209 vehicle thefts happen every day because the owner left the keys inside.

Top states with the highest number of thefts with keys or fobs left in the auto in 2016 to 2018 were:

California – (31,185)

Florida – (17,300)

Texas – (15,511)

Ohio – (12,596)

Nevada – (11,391)

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Will Your Car Insurance Cover Theft?

Whether you own an automobile, truck or motorcycle, your regular insurance policy will not cover the theft of your vehicle. But with the simple addition of comprehensive coverage, you’re set.

Comprehensive Coverage

Adding an optional comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance means that, if your vehicle is stolen or has been damaged during a break-in, you’ll be covered up to the Actual Cash Value (ACV).

Specifically, comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car caused by non-collision events including vandalism, a fallen tree or flooding.

Comprehensive insurance does NOT cover any items you may have left in your car. If you have renters or homeowners insurance, both cover your property even if it is off-premises. See your renters or homeowners policy for details.

Your Car is Stolen. Now What?

If a car is stolen, you’ll need to:

When You File an Insurance Claim

After you’ve provided your insurance company the information they need, it is now time to wait. Like most insurers, yours will probably require a waiting period of between two to eight weeks in case your stolen vehicle is recovered.

In their investigation of your case, the insurance company will work to ascertain whether any fraud was involved on your part. Investigators will also review the car’s damage before fulfilling your claim. Coverage includes repairs, or it may be decided your car is a total loss.

How Actual Car Value Works

When your car isn’t worth repairing after being damaged, the insurance company calculates coverage depending on how much you paid for the car minus depreciation. You’ll then be paid for the ACV less your deductible amount. You can negotiate the amount if you want. To calculate your car’s value online so you’ll have a general idea of what you might expect to receive, go to Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.

If Your Stolen Vehicle is Recovered

So, what happens if your stolen car is recovered? It depends on where in the claims process it resurfaces.

During the Claims Process

As soon as your car has been recovered, contact your insurance provider, because the company will need to assess it for any damages. You will be reimbursed for repairs or pay you the actual cash value, depending on the insurer’s conclusion. Regardless of the kind you receive, your deductible will be taken out of your payout.

After the Claim Has Been Settled

Even if your stolen car has gone through settlement and you’ve received an ACV payout, you must let your insurance company know the car has been recovered. The insurer will consider the car theirs now and could salvage it for parts. If you haven’t yet replaced the stolen car with a freshly purchased one you might be allowed to purchase your original back. Each insurance company decides how to handle it, so speak with your representative about your options.

Anti-Theft Devices Can Save You Money

Many insurance companies provide premium discounts when cars have anti-theft devices are added.

Some of the best anti-theft devices include:

  • Steering wheel lock
  • Tire lock
  • Alarm
  • Wireless baby monitor
  • Dash cam
  • Kill switch
  • Electronic tracking system (like GPS)
  • CarLock system

Car Theft Statistics

If you live in a high car-theft location it can bump your premium payments up.

Top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas By Motor Vehicle Theft Rate, 2018

RankMetropolitan Statistical Area (1)Vehicles stolenRate (2)
1Albuquerque, NM7,146780.19
2Anchorage, AK3,087773.40
3Bakersfield, CA6,748752.48
4Pueblo, CO1,175701.37
5Modesto, CA3,428623.48
6Redding, CA1,037575.98
7Stockton-Lodi, CA4,287569.58
8Wichita, KS3,547550.02
9Vallejo-Fairfield, CA2,404538.28
10St. Joseph, MO-KS674532.85

(1) Metropolitan Statistical Areas are designated by the federal Office of Management and Budget and usually include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named.
(2) Rate of vehicle thefts reported per 100,000 people based on the 2018 U.S. Census Population Estimates.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau

Curious about states? The following chart provides information about the states with the most and the least car thefts:

Top 10 States with the Most and the Fewest Number of Motor Vehicle Thefts, 2018

Most motor vehicle theftsFewest motor vehicle thefts
RankStateVehicles stolenRankState                              Vehicles stolenVehicles stolen
1California155,2111Vermont                                253253
2Texas69,8172Maine                                    777777
3Florida41,1653Wyoming                              839839
4Washington27,6774New Hampshire                   869869
5Georgia24,7605Delaware                             1,4761,476
6Colorado21,6736South Dakota                      2,5241,524
7Tennessee20,4397Rhode Island                       1,5311,531
8Ohio19,9098North Dakota                       1,7751,775
9Missouri19,8159Idaho                                     1,9641,964
10Illinois19,59310West Virginia                       2,5192,519

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports.

And if you are wondering how popular your car is among thieves, just check out this list of Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles:

Top 10 Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles, 2018

All model years (1)  2018 model year vehicles only
1Honda Civic38,4261GMC Pickup (Full size)1,170
2Honda Accord36,8152Ford Pickup (Full size)1,017
3Ford Pickup (Full size)36,3553Toyota Camry976
4Chevrolet Pickup (Full size)31,5664Nissan Altima912
5Toyota Camry16,9065Chevrolet Pickup (Full size)790
6Nissan Altima13,2846Hyundai Elantra775
7Toyota Corolla12,3887Ford Transit723
8GMC Pickup (Full size)11,7088Dodge Charger719
9Dodge Pickup (Full size)11,2269Toyota Corolla699
10Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee9,81810Chevrolet Malibu698

(1) Includes all model years for each vehicle.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

If you don’t yet have comprehensive coverage, shop the easy way online with EINSURANCE. You will receive several quotes so you can compare. Check out the auto insurance coverage for liability and collision while you’re there.


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