Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Car insurance policies include basic mandatory coverage options and other forms of coverage that can be added to the policy for additional premiums
  • When you purchase a basic policy that includes only mandatory coverage options, the policy won’t cover any theft claims that you make
  • Policies that include comprehensive coverage will cover theft claims made when your vehicle is stolen
  • If items are stolen from your vehicle, they aren’t guaranteed to be covered by your auto insurance
  • Belongings that are sitting in the vehicle or the trunk of your car aren’t covered by your auto policy, even when you have full coverage

It comes as quite a surprise that while property crime rates are on the decline, the number of vehicles that have been stolen in the United States has risen over the past year.

Since vehicles are easily mobile and savvy thieves have new ways to disarm high-tech security systems, private passenger cars have become the focus. This is bad news for all the vehicle owners who feel at ease in knowing they have a disabling alarm.

Since theft deterrents haven’t driven car theft rates down, the only way to protect yourself is to invest in insurance that safeguards you.

Unfortunately, many assume that full coverage auto insurance policies will cover all of your reasonable claims. Instead of learning the hard way, you need to familiarize yourself with how your policy pays after a theft:

Does a policy with basic coverage pay for theft claims?

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A basic policy is a policy that includes a minimal amount of coverage that’s mandatory in the state.

Consumers who want to keep their premiums as low as possible may elect to carry a bare minimum policy that will pay for third-party claims and some first-party claims for medical expenses if the coverage is required.

One of the main drawbacks of choosing to purchase a basic policy on a vehicle is that your company is under no obligation to pay for your damage claims.

If your car is in need of repair, you can either file a third-party claim against someone else’s insurance or you can pay for all of the expenses out-of-pocket.

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What type of coverage pays if you need to file a theft claim?

If you have a basic auto insurance policy now, you need to be sure to add comprehensive coverage so that you have protection when and if car thieves strike.

If you have a full coverage policy or solely comprehensive coverage, you can file first-party claims when your car is damaged by vandals or stolen by thieves.

Comprehensive coverage is classified as a no-fault physical damage option. It’s called this because the types of losses that are covered aren’t avoidable.

In addition to theft and vandalism, the following can be covered by making a comprehensive claim:

  • damage by animals
  • damage from falling objects
  • damage from fire
  • damage from flood

How much will your policy pay when your car is stolen?

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There are limits to how much your personal auto policy will pay when you’re filing a claim to replace your stolen car. Knowing the limits before you have a loss can make the process of filing a claim easier.

The general rule of thumb is that your comprehensive limit is the Actual Cash Value of your car.

Actual Cash Value can be equated to fair market value. In the insurance company’s eyes, the ACV of your car is defined as the car’s replacement value minus a depreciation charge.

Since all cars depreciate at a fairly steady rate, you should always do homework before accepting offers.

There are two types of first-party claims: repair claims and total loss claims.

If your vehicle is stolen and not recovered, your claim will be categorized as a total loss claim. This means that the company will offer a settlement that covers the car’s Actual Cash Value and not the cost to repair it.

If the car is ever recovered after settlement, it becomes the insurer’s property.

Will you get your settlement offer right away?

Vehicle theft claims pose unique challenges for claims adjusters. For starters, you are the prime suspect when you file a theft claim because fraud has to be ruled out.

When you’re asked the following questions, it’s because the adjuster wants to be sure they aren’t paying out for a car that was purposely lost:

  • Where did you last see your car?
  • Is your vehicle equipped with an onboard tracking system
  • Was there broken glass where the car was parked?
  • Did you have property in the car?
  • Where do you keep your keys?

Not only do they have to be closely investigated for fraud, the adjuster also has to give law enforcement some time to locate your car. You will be asked to provide a police report number the adjuster will get updates to see if there’s a recovery.

If the car is recovered, whether or not the car is a total loss depends on how much damage has been done.

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Is property stolen from the car covered?

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Everything gets a little bit tricky when you have a theft claim but the entire car isn’t stolen. Not only are car thefts on the rise, more and more people are stealing property from vehicles. Not all property is covered, but some of it is.

If the property is permanently affixed to the car and removed in the course of the theft, you can file a claim against your auto policy. An example of this would be the truck tailgates that more and more thieves are targeting.

Car stereos are also covered under comprehensive if they were installed into the dash. Any other property is covered by your renter’s or homeowner’s policy.

You never want to file a claim for a coverage that you don’t carry. If you live in a high-risk area where thefts are reported often, go online and compare quotes for auto insurance so that you can expand your insurance portfolio.

Begin comparison shopping for insurance now by entering your zip code in the tool below.