Does Insurance Cover a Stolen Car If I Left the Keys Inside?

(Get all your answers from an expert and find the coverage you need.)
Written by Maggie Tiede
Written by Maggie Tiede

Maggie Tiede is a writer and blogger based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Maggie has worked as a freelance writer since 2013, when she began reporting on politics, local events, health, and human interest for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Ask an Insurance Expert graphic


Does insurance cover a stolen car if I left my keys in it?
How do I know if my insurance will cover a stolen car?
How much damage is covered if my car is stolen with the keys inside?
If basic car insurance won't cover a stolen car, what will?
Expert(s) Found on this Page

Does insurance cover a stolen car if I left my keys in it?

What happens if I leave my keys in my car and it gets stolen? Will my insurance still cover it?

It depends on what kind of car insurance you have. If you have liability coverage, then your car isn’t covered if it gets stolen, whether you left your keys in it or not. (Liability coverage is the most basic kind of car insurance. It covers damage you do to other people and property in an accident.)

Comprehensive coverage is the kind of car insurance that covers thefts. Luckily for all the forgetful people of the world, comprehensive coverage does cover a stolen car even if you left your keys inside.

How do I know if my insurance will cover a stolen car?

There have been a few car thefts in my neighborhood. I want to make sure my car is covered. How do I know if it’s covered?

To understand the answer to this question, you need to know that there are three main car insurance coverage types. Each one covers different situations.

  • Liability coverage: Covers damage you do to other people, vehicles or property.
  • Collision coverage: Covers damage that other vehicles do to you in a collision. Also covers damage from collisions with inanimate objects, like mailboxes.
  • Comprehensive coverage:  Also called "other-than-collision," it covers just about everything else, including theft.

If you check your car insurance policy online or in your paper packet, it should spell out pretty clearly what kind of insurance you have. If you have comprehensive coverage, breathe easy! Your car is covered if it’s stolen, even if you left the keys inside.

If you don’t have comprehensive coverage and would like to add it, it’s easy to work with an independent insurance agent to add the coverage.

How much damage is covered if my car is stolen with the keys inside?

Will my insurance company pay the full value of my car if it’s stolen? What if the theft happened because of something I did, like leave the keys inside?

If you have comprehensive insurance, then your insurance will pay for a stolen car, whether or not you left the keys in it. How much it pays depends on the limit of your policy and on the deductible.

An insurance limit is what it sounds like: It’s the limit on what the company will pay.

Liability policies, the most basic car insurance, usually have high limits, like $10,000, $25,000 or $50,000. But for comprehensive policies, which cover natural disasters, it’s almost always the actual cash value of your car.

Actual cash value isn’t what you paid for your car. It’s the replacement cost minus depreciation, a.k.a. the amount of value your car loses each year due to age and wear and tear. Cars depreciate quickly, so the limit can plunge pretty fast on older cars.

Your insurance won’t pay out anything over the limit of the policy. If your car is stolen, you’ll receive the actual cash value as a payout so that you can go replace your car. 

Additionally, if your insurance policy has a deductible, then you will need to pay it before getting your insurance payout. If the actual cash value of your car is $10,000 and your deductible is $500, then you will receive $9,500. You’ll have to pay that $500 yourself when you replace your car.

If basic car insurance won't cover a stolen car, what will?

I recently bought a nicer car and I want better insurance coverage. What can I buy that will cover theft?

Liability coverage will never cover a stolen car. Only comprehensive coverage will, whether or not you leave your keys inside. Comprehensive coverage is great to have: In addition to theft, it also covers natural disasters, collisions with wild animals like deer, and vandalism.

A quick call or email to an independent insurance agent will get the ball rolling. They can help you fill out paperwork, find discounts, and generally make the process as painless as possible.

Hopefully you’ll never have to use your comprehensive coverage, but you’re right to be thinking about it! If a thief strikes, you’ll be glad you took the time to get your car covered.

Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Facebook Share this page on LinkedIn