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Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?

It’s a wild world out there, folks. And while it’s likely not the first thing on your mind as you tend to your daily business, you could be a victim of theft anywhere you drive–from your home, to the supermarket, to the parking garage at work. Pondering the what-ifs that lurk around every corner can get you pretty weirded out. It can also leave you asking questions like, “Does my auto insurance cover theft?”

The answer is yes, no, and it depends. Let’s get into the details and learn how insurance is built to help when you need it most.

What Type of Insurance Do You Have?

Auto insurance is generally available in a few different types. The big three you might hear about are collision, comprehensive, and liability insurance. A collision policy will cover damage to your vehicle that results from a collision with another vehicle or object. Comprehensive coverage covers damage from most other things, including theft. Meanwhile, liability insurance covers you against third party bodily injury or property damage.

So the key thing to know is which type of auto insurance you have. If your policy includes comprehensive protection, then the answer is yes, you should be protected against both auto theft and damage from attempted theft.

What’s Covered?

You might not realize all the things that typically hang out in your vehicle, until you’re without them. In general, the personal items that you may have in your car–cell phone, tablet, computer, tools, equipment, cash, etc.–are not covered by your auto insurance policy. However, these personal items are often covered by your home or renters policy (you DO have one of these, right?). If your work or lifestyle is particularly electronic-device or specialty tool heavy, it might be a smart move to look into an additional insurance policy that’s specific to your needs. Here’s what auto insurance may cover when it comes to theft:

  • Reimbursement (current value) for a stolen vehicle that is not recovered

  • Payment for repairs to a stolen vehicle that is recovered (e.g. vandalism, broken glass)

  • Replacement of stolen or damaged vehicle components (e.g. wheels, seats)

  • Replacement of custom parts, paint, rims, and aftermarket additions

You can plan against theft now, which is pretty important if you’re planning on making extensive changes to your vehicle. Depending on your policy limits, and the alterations you’re planning to make, you may need to purchase an additional custom parts and equipment coverage to ensure that your recovered vehicle is just as it was. Check with your friendly neighborhood Zinc agent to be sure that your policy is all you need it to be.

A Case for Gap Coverage

If your vehicle is newer, you know that its value drops substantially in the first couple of years–you could end up owing more on the vehicle than it’s technically worth. Because many insurers will reimburse victims of auto theft for current market value, there’s a chance you could still be paying for a vehicle you no longer have. This is where gap coverage steps in to save the day; it will cover some of the difference between what the vehicle is worth and what you owe on it. At just a few bucks a month, it’s well worth having.

How To Handle Auto Theft

The sinking feeling that happens when you don’t see your car where you left it can quickly become overwhelming. Once you assess the situation and determine that yes, it definitely was stolen, it’s time to report the theft to the police and let your insurance company know. If your vehicle isn’t gone but was clearly vandalized, perhaps in an attempted theft, you also need to make those calls. In that case, be sure to take photos to document the damage and take an inventory of your belongings. Best-case in the event of theft: you’ll get your car back and insurance will cover the costs (up to limits, less the deductible) to return it to its previous state. If repairs will cost more than the value of the car then it will be a total loss and you’ll likely be reimbursed for the current market value of your car. In the case of vandalism, insurance will cover costs (up to limits, less the deductible) to fix it. In the meantime, if it’s part of your policy, you may be entitled to compensation for a rental, taxi fare, or the costs of a ride-sharing service to get around until your ride is recovered or repaired.

Discount opportunity: If your vehicle is equipped with alarms or tracking devices it can be harder to steal, easier to locate, and could present less risk for an insurer. Having the VIN engraved on the glass could be another way to easily ID your vehicle. These and other prevention measures could earn you savings on your policy, depending on specific coverage and location.

Rely On Auto Insurance Experts

At Zinc Insurance we know that life is for living, regardless of the risks that might come your way. The suite of insurance products we offer are built to make life less risky, whether that means taking care of a stolen or vandalized car, or ensuring that your art business or collectibles stay safe. Whatever the case, we’re here to help. Get in touch today to learn more.

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