Between daily commuting, errands and long road trips, you spend a lot of time behind the wheel trying to stay safe and avoid accidents. But when you think about auto insurance, getting your car stolen is also a top concern. How do you report a stolen car and is theft insured? Read on to find out.
How to Report a Stolen Car
Get to Safety and Assess the Situation
Having your car stolen is an unsettling experience to say the least. Whether your car is taken from a parking lot or street, you will probably spend a while just trying to figure out what happened. You might retrace your steps thinking you parked somewhere else before eventually coming to the realization that your car was stolen.
The first thing to do is get yourself to safety. Find a well-lit space and a security guard, friend or another trusted person who can remain with you while you contact the police.
Contact the Police
If your car is missing, contact the police to determine whether your car has been towed or stolen. Particularly in major cities, vehicles are towed promptly for parking in the wrong place at the wrong time. In either circumstance, the police will be able to assist you.
Be prepared to provide your license plate number and vehicle identification number as well as the color, model, make and other descriptors. This information will be used to add your missing car to national and state auto theft registries and added to your title record, which helps prevent it from being sold. Additionally, your auto insurance provider will require a copy of the police report that is filed.
Rely on Car Locator Technology
The fastest way to locate a stolen car is through GPS or other location-tracking technology. Tracking systems can pinpoint your vehicle, transforming the way that auto theft is handled. If you have signed up for a vehicle-tracking service, your car can often be tracked in real-time, providing the police with valuable information that allows them to pursue your missing car. While it may be tempting to use this information on your own, this is not advisable as it can be dangerous. Allow the authorities to handle vehicle recovery.
Contact Your Auto Insurance Provider
Once the auto theft has been reported to the police, contact your insurance provider. In addition to a copy of the police report when it is available, the company will ask for details including the last location of the car, a list of personal property that was in your car, the location of all keys, contacts for anyone who may have been able to access your car and information about your car financing. Be as comprehensive as possible and expect to answer written questionnaires or participate in recorded conversations with an adjuster.
Note that auto insurance usually only covers the vehicle itself, not personal property stolen from or with your car. Personal property may be covered through a homeowners, condo or renters policy.
Do you know if your vehicle is insured for theft? If you have comprehensive auto insurance, the answer is yes. This type of coverage protects you in the event that your car is stolen, vandalized or incurs damage from natural causes, animals or other circumstances not covered by liability insurance. While you might be tempted to select the least amount of insurance required by law, the investment in comprehensive coverage pays off if your car is stolen.
Get a Rental
For the in-between period when you do not have a car, you may need a rental. Rental reimbursement coverage will typically cover you for an allotted max dollar amount per day. Think about whether you have alternate transportation options to decide if and how long you need to rent a car, and if you do rent, what kind of rental you will need. For example, if you need to drive an SUV for work, make sure you are covered to rent something a bit more expensive than a basic sedan.
Continue to Make Car Payments
Inform your financing or leasing company that your car has been stolen, but remember to keep making payments on time; you are still responsible for the full amount of any loan. Gap insurance can cover the difference between the insured value of your stolen vehicle and what you might still owe on it.
Remain Calm During the Waiting Period
Before your insurance provider finalizes your claim, there will be a waiting time that varies by carrier. This is a standard part of dealing with auto theft, and while it may add to your stress, keep in mind that if your car is insured, the situation will be resolved.
Prevent Future Car Theft
While your claim is being processed, think about proactive steps you can take to avoid future auto theft or handle the situation if it happens again. Signing up for a GPS-based or other location vehicle tracking system is one of the best ways to locate a stolen vehicle. If you do not have comprehensive coverage, now is also the time to update your policy.
Having your car stolen is one of the most upsetting experiences a driver can have. Your first thought will likely be: is my car insured? Preparing now for the possibility of this unsettling event is one of the best steps you can take to cope with the threat of auto theft.
To learn about car insurance options, schedule an appointment with a AAA Insurance agent.
Have you ever experienced having your car stolen? Tell us about it in the comments.
4 Thoughts on “How to Report a Stolen Car”
Great info. Where do you get GPS vehicle tracking system?
Please copy me on your response to Marklein
Hi Tom, see above.
Hi, here’s some info from our Car Doctor, John Paul: There are dozens of GPS trackers, some use cell phones, others are recorded and some plug into the under dash diagnostic port (OBD II). The only one that I have tried personally is https://vyncs.com/
I found it worked pretty well and was fairly easy to set up. It was a demo so I only tried it for a month or so.
Some car dealers who finance used cars (buy here pay here) use this style tracker which does require installation https://gpsandtrack.com/auto-finance-gps-tracker/
If you have an iPhone there are many “find my phone apps” that allow you to find a family members phone-essentially a tracker.
Rik Paul (no relation) wrote this article for Forbes and it may help https://www.forbes.com/wheels/accessories/best-hidden-gps-trackers/