Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?

Understand what car insurance covers if your car or personal items are stolen.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for by authoring consumable, understandable content.

Auto thief trying to break into car. Does car insurance cover item theft?

Does car insurance cover theft? Fortunately, yes, in a couple of different ways. If you've been wondering, "Does insurance cover stolen cars?" it certainly can, and it can also help pay to replace stolen parts of the vehicle itself, such as rims and more. The key is to have the right kind of car insurance, namely comprehensive car insurance, to make sure you get compensated for the theft of your vehicle or its parts.

An independent insurance agent can help you get set up with all the car insurance you need. They'll make sure you add the right types of coverage to your policy to protect against theft losses. But to start off, here's a breakdown of when and how car insurance covers theft. 

In this article:

How Insurance Companies Cover Car Theft

As long as your car insurance policy includes comprehensive car insurance as one of its coverages, your insurance company should help pay for your stolen vehicle. The vehicle's current actual cash value can be reimbursed if you have comprehensive coverage. 

However, there may be some exclusions. Be sure to review your car insurance policy with the help of your independent insurance agent.

How does insurance cover stolen cars? Your comprehensive coverage can pay for the actual cash value of the stolen vehicle if it doesn't get returned. It can also pay for damage to your vehicle if it gets stolen but then is recovered and returned to you. 

So, if you've been wondering, "Does comprehensive cover theft?" the answer is yes. But since comprehensive coverage is optional to add in the first place, you'll need to be sure it's in your policy before a theft occurs. 

What Comprehensive Insurance Covers When Your Car Is Stolen

Comprehensive insurance pays for certain aspects of theft but not all. Say your car got stolen with some of your personal property, like a bike, inside. The car was recovered and returned to you, but the door handle was broken, and your bike was missing. 

How does comprehensive insurance cover theft in this case? And does your insurance cover the stolen car?

Your comprehensive coverage will either pay:

  • Your vehicle's actual cash value if it's stolen
  • Replacements of parts of your vehicle, like rims, if they get stolen
  • Repairs to a damaged vehicle that's returned to you after being stolen

What Comprehensive Insurance Doesn’t Cover When Your Car Is Stolen

How does comprehensive cover theft of a car or its contents? Comprehensive insurance covers theft in a couple of ways, but it won't pay for stolen personal property in a vehicle. 

So, in the example above, your comprehensive coverage would pay to repair the damaged door handle or other damage to your car, but to get reimbursed for your stolen bike, you'd have to file a claim through your homeowners insurance. Though comprehensive coverage can pay to replace parts of the actual vehicle if they get stolen, personal items that aren't part of the vehicle are not covered by auto insurance. So, comprehensive insurance does cover a stolen car, but it doesn't cover stolen contents.


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Insurance Upgrades for Additional Protection from Car Theft

It's important to point out that if your car had custom parts installed or modifications made to it before it got stolen, these features may not be covered by comprehensive insurance. So, how much will insurance pay for a stolen car, exactly, and how does comprehensive cover theft? Comprehensive insurance only covers the actual cash value of the vehicle, which isn't always enough to pay off an existing loan or lease. 

Also, if you wanted to be sure to have enough coverage to pay for a new car if your new vehicle got stolen, you'd need replacement coverage. Having replacement coverage in your car insurance policy can provide reimbursement for a new vehicle of the same make and model if yours gets stolen. Ask your independent insurance agent for more details about how your insurance covers stolen cars.

Custom Parts and Equipment Coverage for a Stolen Car

If your vehicle is equipped with aftermarket or custom parts or has had modifications made, your regular auto insurance and even comprehensive coverage probably won't pay for these replacements after a theft. You can add optional coverage, known as custom parts and equipment coverage, to your policy to help pay for custom parts or modifications, though. In many cases, comprehensive coverage might pay for up to $1,000 of damage or theft to custom parts or modifications, and then custom parts and equipment coverage would be required to pay the remainder. 

So, exactly how much will insurance pay for a stolen car? Say you installed an aftermarket radio in your car that had a $500 value and also installed 24" rims that cost $900. This brings you to a total of $1,400 in value after major damage to or theft of your vehicle. 

If your comprehensive policy covered $1,000 of this cost, you'd need to use custom parts and equipment coverage to pay the remaining $400. So, in this case, the answer to "Does insurance cover stolen cars?" is yes, to an extent.

Gap Insurance for a Stolen Car

Does insurance fully cover stolen cars? If you owe more on your loan or lease than your vehicle is now worth, you'd need to get gap insurance to cover the difference if your car was stolen. 

Comprehensive does cover theft, but since comprehensive only pays for your car's actual cash value, which factors in depreciation, you might not get the reimbursement you need to pay off the remainder of a loan or lease through this coverage alone. So, if your new car was originally $60,000 and you still owe $50,000 on your loan, but your car's actual cash value was only $40,000 at the time it got stolen, you'd have a "gap" of $10,000. With gap insurance, this difference is made up and paid directly to your lender.

Does Liability Insurance Cover a Stolen Car?

No, liability car insurance doesn't cover theft of any kind. Liability coverage is broken into two sections: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. It covers injuries you may cause others with your vehicle as well as third-party property damage you cause with your vehicle. But comprehensive car insurance is the only kind of coverage that can provide reimbursement for theft.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Theft of Personal Items From Your Car?

You may have wondered, "Does car insurance cover theft of my personal items?" Unfortunately, no portion of your car insurance policy covers personal items that get stolen from your vehicle. 

If your entire car got stolen, including personal items you kept inside, such as clothing, a laptop, or a bike, car insurance would only pay for the vehicle and its parts. Also, if your car just got broken into and your personal belongings inside got stolen, your car insurance would only pay for the damage to your vehicle, not for the missing personal items in it. 

So, what insurance covers items stolen from cars? To cover stolen personal property, even if it's kept in your vehicle, you'd need to rely on your homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy. 

You'd need to double-check your personal policy to be sure, but most home insurance and renters insurance policies would provide reimbursement to repair or replace damaged or stolen property from inside your vehicle. An independent insurance agent can help you review your coverage to be positive. 

How Much Do I Have to Pay If My Car Insurance Doesn’t Cover Personal Item Theft?

If you don't have home insurance or renters insurance, you'd likely be on the hook for covering the cost of replacing any stolen personal items that were kept in your vehicle. These costs would have to be covered out of pocket if you lacked the proper coverage. What insurance covers items stolen from your car is an aspect of auto insurance. 

Say you did have auto insurance and home insurance, and your car got broken into while you were camping. Someone stole your wallet containing a bunch of cash and broke your car lock.

Does car insurance cover the theft of personal items like cash? Unfortunately, your cash isn't going to be replaced by any insurance policy. You'd have to pay to replace any ID cards or credit cards that were in your wallet as well. 

However, your car insurance could pay for repairs to your car lock and any other damage to the vehicle, and your home insurance could pay to replace the wallet itself and other stolen personal property. But you'd have to pay the deductible amounts for both of these policies before receiving reimbursement. So, it would likely actually end up being cheaper for you to just pay out-of-pocket for the repair of the car lock and to replace your wallet.


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What to Do When Your Car Is Stolen

What happens if someone steals your car? First, you should contact the police and tell them all the details they need about the incident so they can begin their investigation right away. 

Next, call your car insurance company or your independent insurance agent to report the theft. If you have comprehensive car insurance, it'll even cover car theft if you leave your keys inside the vehicle. If your car had personal items in it when it got stolen, also make a call to your home or renters insurance company to report the stolen items. 

Next, contact any lenders if you had a loan or lease on your vehicle to report the theft. If your car got stolen and had personal documents in it, such as the registration, you might also want to consider filing a temporary fraud alert through a major credit bureau. 

Contacting just one of the major bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax, will result in all three being notified of a fraud alert on your credit records, so only one call is necessary. Also, be sure to contact your bank or other financial institution ASAP if you had credit or debit cards stolen with your vehicle.

What Happens When Your Car Is Stolen and Recovered?

What happens if someone steals your car and you get it back? If your stolen vehicle is recovered and returned to you, you'll need to notify each agency you contacted again. 

The police likely are the ones who returned it to you in the first place, but if you happened to find your car before they did, be sure to call them right away to let them know. Whether or not your personal documents were returned with the vehicle, call your financial institutions and report the update as well.

Also, call your insurance companies or independent insurance agent right away to report that your car's been recovered. Then, you can file any claims, if necessary, for damage to the vehicle and stolen personal property. You could receive reimbursement for damage to your car from your auto insurance and stolen personal items from your home or renters insurance up to your policy limits and after paying the deductible amount for each respective policy out of your own pocket. 

Why Work with an Independent Insurance Agent?

An independent insurance agent is your greatest ally in getting you set up with all the car insurance you may need. These agents shop and compare quotes for you from several different auto insurance companies. Ultimately, they'll provide you with only the results that offer the best blend of coverage and cost. And down the road, they'll be there to help file claims and answer questions for you.

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