Motor Category Motor: car insurance and finance

What to Do If My Car Is Stolen?

It's one of every motorist's nightmares.

You know where you parked, but your car is no longer there. It's been stolen. Aside from the personal violation, there's a long list of things you have to do immediately to ensure that the perpetrators are caught and that you lose as little as possible from the event.

Police and Insurance

When your car is stolen you should immediately report the theft to the police.

You'll have to file a stolen vehicle report in order to get the police onto the case as soon as possible. The sooner this is done the greater the chance of getting your vehicle back. The police will need details about your car such as colour, make, model and year, the number plate number and your VIN number. When filing the police report make sure to report any personal items stolen with the car, especially any identifying papers.

After filing the police report you'll need to find a way home and make a call to your insurance company.

No matter the level of your insurance coverage, report the theft to your carrier in case the thief should cause damage to others with your vehicle. While reporting the theft, you should find out what your policy covers in these events.

If your car is leased or financed, you'll want to report the theft to your leasing or financing company. You should coordinate talks between the financing company and your insurance company in order to speed up the claim process.

Other information that may be required of you when you report a stolen car to the police and the various companies involved includes certificates of title and lease or financing paperwork, the locations of all keys to your car, and the finance or leasing company contact or account numbers.

Personal Property

If there was any personal property in your vehicle when the car was taken, you will need to make a list of all items lost for insurance purposes. Depending on your level of coverage, some of the value of lost items may be granted to you in the insurance claim, so list accuracy is important.

Any credit or debit cards taken with the vehicle will need to be reported as stolen immediately to credit card companies or banks and replaced. If your house keys were in the car, you should change the locks on your home for safety's sake.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance policies will differ by company and policy holder, but there are a few general methods to how insurance companies handle stolen vehicles.

Most policies will have a wait clause, a time period you'll have to wait after the theft for the policy terms to take effect. This is to give police an opportunity to recover your car. Depending on the policy, the cost of a rental car may be covered during this time.

If the vehicle is found before the wait period ends, it will either be repaired or written off, depending on the state of the recovered vehicle.

If your car isn't recovered during the wait period, the insurance company will begin claim settlement. If your car is written off or unrecovered, you will receive a check, most likely for the present value of your car.