Will Auto Insurance Pay for Items Stolen From Inside Your Car?
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Someone breaks into your car and steals your laptop. Will car insurance cover it? Or are you out of luck?
Unfortunately, car insurance does not cover most items stored in your vehicle. Car insurance covers your vehicle and the occupants inside it, but that coverage does not extend to laptops, luggage, or other personal belongings within your vehicle.
However, if you have renters or homeowners insurance, then your insurance should cover any items stored inside your vehicle. Renters or homeowners insurance protects your possessions from theft – including possessions stored in your house or car.
What to Do If Your Car is Broken Into
Car break-ins can be devastating. One mistake – like leaving your laptop bag in your car while you shop – can cost you thousands of dollars.
If your car is broken into, then there are steps you need to take. If you have renters or homeowners insurance, then you may be covered against vehicle break-ins. If you do not have renters or homeowners insurance, then you may not be covered at all, although you may still want to make a claim through your car insurance for a broken windshield or other vandalism.
Here are the steps to take after a vehicle break-in:
Step 1) Document the Scene: Take photos of the damage, including the broken window or door, the surrounding scene, glass on the ground, and interior and exterior of your vehicle. The more photos you have, the better. Make an immediate list of all items that were stolen.
Step 2) File a Police Report: Most insurers require a police report. Contact the local police to make a car break-in report. Don’t move the vehicle until the officer arrives. Or, the officer may ask you to file a report at the police station. You will need a driver’s license, vehicle registration, car insurance documentation, photos of the damages, and a list of stolen items to file the police report.
Step 3) Freeze Cards and Bank Accounts: If your wallet or purse was stolen during the break-in, then the thief may attempt to immediately access credit cards or bank cards. Contact your bank or credit card to freeze your accounts. Consider contacting one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit record as well.
Step 4) Consider Filing an Insurance Claim: You could file a renters or homeowners insurance claim to cover items that were stolen from your vehicle. You could also file an auto insurance claim (under comprehensive coverage) for your broken windshield and other damage.
Step 5) Repair your Vehicle: Visit a body shop to repair your vehicle’s physical damage.
What Does Homeowners or Renters Insurance Cover Inside your Vehicle?
A typical homeowners or renters insurance policy will cover anything inside your vehicle that is not affixed.
If you left your backpack or luggage inside your vehicle and it was stolen, for example, then your homeowners or renters insurance policy should cover these items.
However, your homeowners or renters insurance will not cover possessions that are attached to your vehicle – like your car stereo or built-in navigation system, for example.
Different policies have different limits. Your homeowners or renters insurance policy may have low limits and basic coverage, or it could have high limits and extensive coverage for your possessions.
If you file a claim for stolen items inside your vehicle, then you will need to provide receipts and other documentation proving the value of those items. Contact your homeowners or renters insurance company to initiate the claim.
Comprehensive Insurance Covers Vehicle Theft
If you have comprehensive coverage (which is part of full coverage), then your car insurance will cover vehicle theft and vandalism, although it will not cover the possessions inside your vehicle.
Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle against damages that occur outside of an accident. It will cover hail damage, vehicle theft, vandalism, and other damage, for example.
If someone breaks into your vehicle, then comprehensive coverage will cover the cost of repairing your broken windshield.
If someone steals your vehicle, then comprehensive coverage will cover the value of your vehicle. Your vehicle is a total loss, and if your vehicle is never recovered, then you will receive compensation for the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle.
Let’s say your vehicle is worth $10,000. You park it in a rough neighborhood, and someone steals your vehicle with your $1,500 laptop inside. You file a claim with your car insurance company for your stolen vehicle. If your car is never recovered, then you will receive a check for $10,000 compensating you for the value of your vehicle. You can also file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance company for the $1,500 stolen laptop, although your car insurance company will not cover that loss.
If someone broke into your car, then it may not be worth it to file a comprehensive insurance claim. You need to pay your deductible, which is typically around $250. Your deductible may be more expensive than the cost of repairing your broken windshield.
Making multiple comprehensive claims within a short period can also raise insurance premiums upon renewal. If you have made multiple comprehensive claims in the past, then you may not want to make another claim for a minor incident.
Final Word on Stolen Items From Your Car
You can deter vehicle theft by:
- Keeping car doors locked at all times
- Activating an alarm system every time you leave your vehicle
- Not leaving valuables in your vehicle
- Parking your car in a safer location overnight
If someone steals items from your vehicle (like a laptop), then car insurance will not reimburse you for the lost items. Car insurance may cover vandalism to the vehicle and theft of the vehicle (through comprehensive coverage), although it won’t cover any possessions inside your vehicle.
However, if you have homeowners or renters insurance, then you should be covered. A standard homeowners or renters insurance policy covers your possessions whether they’re in your house or vehicle. Your policy will cover anything stolen from your vehicle that is not affixed, which means your laptop will be covered but your car stereo will not be covered.
Contact your insurer to start a claim after a vehicle break-in.