Does My Car Insurance Cover Theft?

Last Updated on May 24, 2023

One of the most common questions we get here is whether or not car insurance covers theft.

The answer, as you might expect, depends entirely on your insurance policy: some insurance policies cover theft, while others do not. Today, we’re helping you determine whether or not your car insurance policy covers theft.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Car insurance coverage for theft depends on the type of policy you have. Only comprehensive insurance covers theft, while liability and collision insurance do not.
  2. Comprehensive insurance protects against various damages, including theft, vandalism, and weather-related damage. It is an optional add-on and not required by law.
  3. To file an insurance claim for a stolen vehicle or a break-in, you must contact the police and file a police report. Provide all the necessary details, such as vehicle information, location, and any identifying marks.
  4. After filing a police report, contact your insurance company to initiate the insurance claim process. Be prepared to provide documentation like the vehicle title, key information, description of the vehicle and any stolen personal property, and finance or leasing details if applicable. Compensation will be based on the actual cash value of the vehicle minus depreciation and your deductible.

Comprehensive Insurance Is the Only Car Insurance That Covers Theft

There are three broad types of insurance policies: liability insurance, collision insurance, and comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive insurance covers virtually all damages to your car – including theft. Liability insurance and collision insurance do not cover vehicle theft.

  • Liability Insurance (Does Not Cover Theft): This is the basic insurance required to drive legally on any road in the United States. It doesn’t cover any damage to your own vehicle in a collision. It only covers damages you cause to other drivers, vehicles, or property. This type of insurance does not cover vehicle theft.
  • Collision Insurance (Does Not Cover Theft): Collision insurance is a medium-coverage insurance plan. It covers damage to your own vehicle on top of any liability coverage for other vehicles and drivers on the road. This type of insurance does not cover theft.
  • Comprehensive Coverage (Covers Theft): Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your own vehicle, damage to other drivers and vehicles, and many additional types of damage that can occur to your vehicle – including theft, vandalism, and weather-related damage.

Ultimately, of the three main types of car insurance, only comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle related to theft or a break-in. Comprehensive insurance also protects from other unexpected circumstances – like flooding, storm damage, and vandalism.

Do you have comprehensive insurance? If you’re unsure, then check your insurance policy. Or, call your insurance provider. Comprehensive insurance is always an optional add-on. It’s not required in any state or jurisdiction. If you have comprehensive insurance, then it should cover vehicle theft and other damages. However, vehicle theft is unlikely to be covered if you only have collision or liability insurance.

How to File an Insurance Claim for a Stolen Vehicle or a Vehicle Break-In

Was your vehicle stolen? Did someone break into your vehicle? Follow the steps below for all insurance claims related to stolen vehicles and vehicle break-ins.

Step 1) Contact the Police

Your first and most important step when filing an insurance claim for a stolen vehicle is to call the police and file a police report. Your insurance company will require a police report when processing your claim. The police will require the following information:

  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and license plate number of your vehicle. You may be able to find this information on your vehicle title, insurance card, and other insurance documents. If you can’t find the information, talk to your insurance company. They should have it on file.
  • The year, make, and model of your vehicle.
  • The location, date, and estimated time the theft took place.
  • Any other identifying vehicle marks, including unique markings, bumper stickers, dents, or scratches. The police might also ask if your car is equipped with any vehicle locating devices or trackers.

Step 2) Talk to Your Insurance Company

After filing a police report, your next step is to file an insurance claim. Talk to your insurance company about making a claim for a stolen vehicle. Your insurance company will require some or all of the following information:

  • Certificate of title for the vehicle
  • The location of all vehicle keys before the theft
  • The names and contact information of everyone with access to the vehicle and keys
  • Description of your vehicle, including mileage, options, service records, and upgrades; the insurance company might ask you to provide receipts for any items added to your vehicle, for example
  • A list of personal property stolen from your vehicle
  • Any finance or leasing information and your account number, if applicable (i.e., if you did not own your vehicle outright and still owe money on your loan)

Step 3) Wait for Compensation

Typically, comprehensive insurance will reimburse your stolen vehicle for its actual cash value (ACV), which is the replacement cost of your vehicle minus any depreciation from normal wear and tear. You’ll also need to pay your insurance deductible.

You may receive rental car reimbursement while your vehicle is missing. If you had rental car reimbursements as part of your policy, then you may receive compensation for a rental car.

Various items within your vehicle may or may not be covered. Your car insurance will only ever cover core fixtures in your vehicle – like your wheels, seats, and factory-installed GPS system. Your vehicle’s comprehensive insurance policy will never cover ancillary items like your GPS unit or a phone.

However, these items may be covered under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance – even if your vehicle wasn’t parked at home during the theft. Make a separate claim with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to receive coverage for any items within your vehicle.

What Happens If My Stolen Vehicle Is Recovered?

Approximately half of all stolen vehicles are recovered. Recovered vehicles often have damaged or stolen parts. Your insurance company will use special calculations to determine if your vehicle is worth fixing or if the car should be deemed as a total loss.

If the insurance company decides to repair your vehicle, and you have comprehensive coverage, they’ll reimburse you for the repairs minus your deductible. If your car is found “totaled,” you’ll receive the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV) minus the same deductible.

If you’ve already received compensation from your insurance company and your vehicle is found, then the recovered vehicle becomes the insurance company’s property. In this situation, your insurance company might force you to return the claim amount in exchange for your vehicle. However, policies vary on a case-by-case basis.

Frequently Asked Questions About Theft and Insurance

Final Word

Car insurance covers theft only if you have comprehensive coverage, an optional add-on that protects your vehicle from various perils. If your vehicle is stolen or broken into, you need to contact the police and your insurance company and provide them with the necessary information. Depending on your policy, you may receive compensation for your vehicle’s actual cash value and a rental car. If your vehicle is recovered, your insurance company will decide whether to repair it or declare it a total loss.

Talk to your insurance company for more information on whether or not your car insurance plan covers theft.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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