While it can be tempting to only purchase the minimum amounts and only the legally required policies for car insurance, it is not always the wisest choice. Drivers should understand that there are many different types of coverage on their auto insurance policies, each for different situations. To have your car covered in the event of theft, you need to have a certain type of coverage in place, called comprehensive coverage. Instead of skimping on insurance you may need, try an online insurance comparison tool to be sure you are paying the best price for your auto policy. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!
Auto Insurance Coverage Types
Your auto insurance policy is actually several different policies grouped together to protect you and other drivers from several different scenarios. Each state has its own laws and requirements regarding the amounts and policy types you much carry on a vehicle. Here are the different types of coverage within an auto insurance policy:
- Bodily Injury Liability- Bodily injury liability coverage is needed if you cause an accident and someone else ends up losing their life or being injured. Each state has different laws regarding how much bodily injury coverage you are required to carry. As a driver, you should consider what assets you would need to protect and how much you can afford when deciding the coverage amount that you need.
- Property Damage Liability- Property damage liability comes into play if you damage someone else’s property. This usually applies if you damage your car but can also apply to other structures, buildings, utility poles, garage doors, and other physical property. Most state laws will determine the minimum amount of property damage liability coverage you need.
- Collision Coverage- Collision coverage will cover damages to your car if you hit another car or other object. This coverage is not required by law, but your lender or leasing company may require it if you still have an auto loan or a car and leave. You can choose various deductibles on this coverage.
- Comprehensive Coverage- Comprehensive coverage is a policy that covers you in the event of your car being stolen or damaged when a collision is not involved. Comprehensive policies will cover hail, fire, floods, earthquakes, falling objects, explosions, and theft, as well as collisions with wildlife or other animals. Comprehensive coverage is optional, however, your bank or leasing company may require it if you do not on your vehicle. You can also choose your deductible for this coverage. It is important to note that this is the only type of coverage that will cover your car in the event that it is stolen.
Steps to Take if Your Car is Stolen
If you have the unfortunate experience of discovering that your car has been stolen, there are several important steps you need to take:
- Contact the police to make a full report- Be prepared to give as much information as you can regarding your vehicle and the circumstances surrounding its disappearance. You will generally be asked for your license plate number, make, model and year of your car. If you have the vehicle identification number, also referred to as a VIN, it can be helpful. You can usually find it on your insurance card or car registration. Let the officer taking the report know of any dents, paint discoloration, or any other features that would distinguish it from other vehicles. If you had any valuables or other possessions in your vehicle, you will also want to let the officer know so it can be listed on your stolen vehicle report.
- Check with local impound lots- In the event that your car has been recovered after being stolen, or that you parked where you were not supposed to and your car was towed, it is a good idea to check with local impound lots to see if they might, by chance, have your car.
- Contact your car insurance company- If possible, have the police report and your car title in hand when calling your insurance company to report the incident. You can usually find the contact information for your insurance company quite easily on your insurance card. You will likely be asked several questions, many of which will be on the police report. You may also be asked about the mileage on your vehicle, as well as any maintenance and repair history. Be prepared to give the names and contact information for anyone else who may have had access to your vehicle.
While You Are Waiting
After you have taken the proper steps, there are other things to be aware of while waiting to see if your car will be recovered. Often car insurance policies will reimburse you for the cost of a rental car or public transportation while you do not have your car.
With most insurance companies you will need to pay for the upfront cost, submit documentation, and then wait for your insurance company to send you a check for reimbursement.
During this time, you should also maintain communication with the police department where your stolen vehicle report was filed. If your car turns up or someone else finds it, be sure to immediately contact the police department and the insurance company. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 57 percent of stolen cars are eventually recovered.
Most insurance policies with full coverage will provide compensation for the full value of your vehicle if it is not recovered. Policy terms can vary from one company to the next, however, you will usually receive a check for the value of your vehicle about 30 days after your claim was filed. However, if your car was recovered, but suffered any damages, your car insurance company will cover that as well. Some car insurance companies may pay for the cost up front and others will require you to be reimbursed. Check with your own insurance company regarding their policies regarding these situations.
What if I Do Not Have Comprehensive Coverage on My Stolen Car?
Since many drivers will choose not to have additional coverage on their vehicle above what is required by their local laws, you are not alone. Although realizing after the fact that you do not have an auto policy that will cover your expenses should your car become the victim of theft, you do have some recourse. You can start by contacting a civil attorney to represent you. If your vehicle happens to be recovered, you can sue the person responsible in civil court. This is in addition to any criminal charges they may face. If you are able to get a civil judgment in your favor, the offender will be legally required to pay you. The only drawback is they may not have the assets or cash to pay you back.
To save yourself the financial burden and anxiety of having to pay for a car that may potentially be stolen, it is best to make sure you maintain comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, even when it is not legally required. You can make carrying more coverage affordable by using an online auto insurance quote comparison tool. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to start comparing car insurance rates now!