A lost car is every driver’s nightmare, worse off if it is stolen.
Finding your car stolen can be deeply unsettling. You hardly know what to do immediately and may go round in your head, trying to figure out where it could be.
You are not alone. After 44 seconds, a car is stolen in the U.S., says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
What Do You Do When Your Car Is Stolen?
You need to always be prepared for such a mishap. But first, you need to confirm if your car is stolen.
Are You Sure Your Car Is Stolen?
Try to keep a clear head.
First of all, double-check if your car is missing.
It is not a pleasant experience to find your car missing from the spot you expected to find it parked. So what next?
Do not rush to your insurance company. Calm down and think about it and what could have happened. Different things could have happened:
- You have simply forgotten where exactly you parked
- It has been towed
- It has been repossessed
- It was impounded
- Someone borrowed it, and you don’t remember
After you have checked with all these possibilities, then you can be confident that your car is gone. Now you can take action.
What You Should Do If Your Car Is Stolen?
As said earlier, your car being stolen is profoundly unsettling and can be overwhelming. But don’t panic.
There are steps you need to take to reduce the severity of the repercussions that you’ll face after the loss of your car. Here are some:
- File a police report.
- Contact your insurance company and report the theft.
- Contact your financing or leasing company.
- Attempt to track the car.
Failure to take these steps within a reasonable time, you will not only have lost your car, but you could also be accused of crimes that might have been committed in your vehicle.
Furthermore, these steps will help you in recovering your car and with claims from your car insurance company.
File A Police Report
Once you are sure that your car is lost – is stolen – you need to contact law enforcement. Call the police and file a “missing (stolen) vehicle report” before you do anything else.
Be prepared to give the police all the details about your stolen car. If your car has a built-in GPS device, then alert the police about it too because it can help to track down the car.
The details about your car that will be helpful for the police include:
- Your vehicle’s plate number.
- Color, model, make and year your car was manufactured
- Vehicle identification number (VIN) or chassis number
- Address, where the theft occurred
- Your driver license details
- Your contact details
- Any distinct features of your car
As additional information, take a photograph of the exact location where your car was parked as additional evidence to your insurance company.
Contact Your Insurance Company
It is prudent also to contact your car insurance company and report your car stolen. While contacting your provider, double-check your policy to be exactly sure about your coverage.
There is no “stolen car insurance.” However, if your policy is a comprehensive car insurance, then your lost (stolen) car is covered.
If your coverage is not a comprehensive insurance policy, it could be a third-party only policy. The third-party only policy doesn’t cover you for damage or theft to your car.
Your policy could also be third-party, fire, and theft insurance. This is a policy similar to third party insurance with the addition of car theft and if your car catches fire.
Whichever policy you have, it is in your best interest to notify your provider about the theft. Reporting the theft will protect you if an accident occurs or if someone is injured or property damaged using your car while it is out of your possession.
The information and details that you should have ready to help expedite the claims process with your insurer include:
- Description of your vehicle- Color, VIN, plate number
- The location where the car was during the theft
- All information regarding your car’s last known whereabouts
- Contact information of your financing or leasing company, if any
- List of all personal items, which were in the car at the time of the theft
- Location of all of the car’s keys
- Title for the vehicle
Make sure that everything in your report or claim is truthful and consistent. Insurers investigate claims to find out their truth.
Any inconsistency between your claim and a police report can be a red flag, even if it is unintentional.
Also, check if your policy has a rental reimbursement coverage. You will most likely need a means of transport, and if you have rental reimbursement coverage, then your provider will cover some of the rental car’s cost.
If your provider agrees to settle your car claim, they will pay the market value of your car. The market value is the current market price of the model of your lost car.
It’s also important to note that if you are paying your premium in installments, you would have to continue paying it off until the agreed period of the policy.
Contact Your Financing Or Leasing Company
If your stolen car is leased or financed, you will need to contact the financing or leasing company and report the theft.
In this scenario, where your car is leased or financed, your provider will pay the claim to the financing or leasing company. It means you will no longer be liable for payments.
Reporting the matter to the financing or leasing company is an authorization to have the financing or leasing company contact the insurer directly. It will also help the claims process move quickly.
Track Your Stolen Car
Technology has made everything possible. Your car could have been equipped with one of the many sophisticated electronic tracking devices.
If your car has a tracking device and you are sure it is missing, you should give the police access to the tracking device’s information.
Alternatively, you can use your car’s Vehicle identification number (VIN) to look it up on the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) VINCheck. This is a stolen car database.
The VINCheck database can help in locating your stolen vehicle.
The VINCheck database also integrates partners such as law enforcement agencies and insurance companies. If these partners find your missing car, they will report it to VINCheck, and your vehicle shall be reported.
What If Your Stolen Car Is Recovered?
If your stolen car is found you must do things:
Tell your insurer straight away.
Tell your financing or leasing company right away
Also, you must find out if the car is safe to drive, is damaged, or has been used to commit another crime. You will find all this information from the police.
If you have theft insurance coverage, your provider will assess the damage to your car and decide what action to take. The action may be a repair or a write-off, in which case your claim will be processed.
Your can being stolen can be very devastating.
There are actions you can take to either recover your car or claim for repayment from your car insurance company.
You, however, need to report the loss immediately – or early enough – to the police to prevent your provider from being skeptical.