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

Year Vehicles stolen Percent change
2009 795,652 -17.0%
2010 739,565 -7.0
2011 716,508 -3.1
2012 723,186 0.9
2013 700,288 -3.2
2014 686,803 -1.9
2015 713,063 3.8
2016 767,290 7.6
2017 772,943 0.7
2018 748,841 -3.1

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

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area (1) Vehicles stolen Rate (2)
1 Albuquerque, NM 7,146 780.19
2 Anchorage, AK 3,087 773.40
3 Bakersfield, CA 6,748 752.48
4 Pueblo, CO 1,175 701.37
5 Modesto, CA 3,428 623.48
6 Redding, CA 1,037 575.98
7 Stockton-Lodi, CA 4,287 569.58
8 Wichita, KS 3,547 550.02
9 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 2,404 538.28
10 St. Joseph, MO-KS 674 532.85

(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 thefts Fewest motor vehicle thefts
Rank State Vehicles stolen Rank State                              Vehicles stolen Vehicles stolen
1 California 155,211 1 Vermont                                253 253
2 Texas 69,817 2 Maine                                    777 777
3 Florida 41,165 3 Wyoming                              839 839
4 Washington 27,677 4 New Hampshire                   869 869
5 Georgia 24,760 5 Delaware                             1,476 1,476
6 Colorado 21,673 6 South Dakota                      2,524 1,524
7 Tennessee 20,439 7 Rhode Island                       1,531 1,531
8 Ohio 19,909 8 North Dakota                       1,775 1,775
9 Missouri 19,815 9 Idaho                                     1,964 1,964
10 Illinois 19,593 10 West Virginia                       2,519 2,519

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
Rank Model Thefts Rank Model Thefts
1 Honda Civic 38,426 1 GMC Pickup (Full size) 1,170
2 Honda Accord 36,815 2 Ford Pickup (Full size) 1,017
3 Ford Pickup (Full size) 36,355 3 Toyota Camry 976
4 Chevrolet Pickup (Full size) 31,566 4 Nissan Altima 912
5 Toyota Camry 16,906 5 Chevrolet Pickup (Full size) 790
6 Nissan Altima 13,284 6 Hyundai Elantra 775
7 Toyota Corolla 12,388 7 Ford Transit 723
8 GMC Pickup (Full size) 11,708 8 Dodge Charger 719
9 Dodge Pickup (Full size) 11,226 9 Toyota Corolla 699
10 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee 9,818 10 Chevrolet Malibu 698

(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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