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

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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...

  • A basic auto insurance policy provides coverage for third-party claims but not for theft claims
  • If you want your policy to pay to replace your vehicle after it’s stolen, you need to add at least comprehensive coverage to your insurance policy
  • Before you can add comprehensive coverage to an existing policy, many companies will ask you to bring the car in for a thorough inspection. The company will note any pre-existing damage that’s found so they aren’t responsible for repairing it
  • Auto insurance carriers will only pay to replace stolen vehicles after they have been gone for a reasonable amount of time. If the car is recovered quickly, the company will pay for repairs instead of vehicle replacement unless the car is totaled
  • When a physical damage claim is filed, the company will pay up to the vehicle’s pre-loss Actual Cash Value (ACV) to settle the claim. It’s important to negotiate the ACV to get the best settlement

Vehicle thefts are on the rise despite the fact that property crime is on the decline. According to recent statistics released, local and regional crime stats show a sharp rise in the number of vehicles being stolen nationwide. This is why it’s never been more important to protect your vehicle with adequate insurance.

Although theft deterrent and immobilizing technologies are becoming the standard in new vehicles, savvy thieves have created sophisticated techniques that circumvent even the best technology.

Having an anti-theft system simply isn’t enough when you can’t afford to replace your vehicle on your own. If you want protection, you need to build a comprehensive insurance policy that can give you peace of mind.

Start by entering your zip code into our FREE comparison tool above!

What does a basic auto insurance policy pay for?


If you’re buying auto insurance solely to comply with the state-mandated insurance laws, you have what’s called a basic auto insurance policy.

Basic insurance policies should include the minimum coverage limits that are required under the state’s vehicle code.

While the requirements vary from state to state, here are the most common coverage requirements:

When you buy a basic policy, the policy is designed to pay for third-party claims that are presented against you when you cause damages or you injure someone.

If you do elect to carry Uninsured Motorist and Medical Payments coverage, you can also file claims for first-party medical expenses against your policy. The basic plan doesn’t pay for your own damage claims.

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How can you buy protection for your car?

If you want protection for your own car, you need to add first-party physical damage benefits to your insurance. Your Property Damage Liability will strictly pay for only damages sustained by other parties.

There are two types of coverage that can be purchased to protect your covered auto against physical damage —  comprehensive and collision.

Comprehensive is the form of physical damage coverage that pays for various types of non-collision losses. When you carry comprehensive coverage, your insurance provider will pay to repair or replace your car after it’s damaged or totaled from a peril that doesn’t involve colliding with another object.

Some of the perils covered under comprehensive include:

  • Fire
  • Vandalism
  • Flood
  • Explosion
  • Falling objects
  • Glass breakage
  • Theft

If you have existing insurance and you just recently discovered that you don’t have theft protection, there’s a good chance that you can add the coverage to your policy now.

Some companies may ask that you submit pictures of your car or bring the vehicle in for an inspection to see if there’s any pre-existing damage.

Not all cars qualify for comprehensive coverage. If your car has substantial damage that’s never been repaired, the company may decline your request. Some companies also refuse to provide comprehensive or collision coverage for vehicles that have a salvage title. You should check your insurer’s requirements.

How much will my company pay if my car is stolen?


It’d be nice if your insurance policy would automatically replace your car with a similar vehicle, but that’s not always how insurance policies work. If you look over your declarations page, you will notice that there’s not a stated limit for comprehensive coverage. Instead, it says your insurer will pay up to your car’s Actual Cash Value.

Actual Cash Value is a term that’s used to in the industry to describe how much the insurer is obligated to pay for your covered autos. It is technically the replacement cost of your vehicle minus depreciation. If your vehicle depreciates because of mileage, condition, or age, you can expect your settlement to go down.

Companies Don’t Always Replace Stolen Cars

Your insurance company won’t instantly cut a check immediately after your car is reported stolen. Before the claim can be settled, the car must be missing for a reasonable amount of time before the car is considered gone. The claim will be investigated and your police report will be reviewed.

After the company looks at your financial situation and claims history, they may find that the claim needs more investigating. If the company believes there’s foul play or fraud, they may delay the claim until the investigation is complete. If you are in the clear, the claim could be settled within a week, but it all depends on the findings.

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What happens if the car is recovered?


If your car is recovered before the company has offered you a settlement, the company will estimate the damage and determine how much it will cost to repair.

If it costs more to repair than it’s worth, it will be declared a total loss. At that point, you can decide if you want to buy the car back or if you want the total loss value.

If you’re not happy with your current rates, it’s time to shop around. Enter your information, select limits and deductibles, and choose an affordable policy from a respected insurer.

Use our FREE online rate comparison tool by entering just your zip code to get started!