Finding your car is gone, when you return to a parking spot is every driver’s worst fear. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), auto theft appears to have increased considerably in 2020 ending a two-year trend of decreasing auto thefts. In 2021, car theft is still one of the most common crimes throughout the country. Do you know what to do if your car is stolen? Here are some major steps to take to ensure that you reported a stolen car to your local authorities and insurance provider correctly.
What to do immediately after your car is stolen
One of the first steps you should take is to report the theft as soon as you can. The sooner you report the theft to the police, the sooner they can start tracking it — and the sooner you’ll have a police report to send to your insurance carrier. When filling out a report, you’ll have to provide some basic information about your car including the make and model, license plate number, your vehicle identification number (VIN), and any details you can provide about any installed GPS or tracking system. Typically, auto insurance covers theft depending on the specifics of the policy. Regardless of your coverage, you should report a stolen car to your insurance provider as well. There is a high probability that a VIN number decoder will be used to find out more details about the car.
What is the probability of getting a stolen car returned?
While about 20% of stolen cars are returned nationwide, the odds of getting your car back vary widely from region to region. Drivers in the Midwest are the most likely to see their cars again, with 24% of cars being returned. Meanwhile, only 15% of the cars in the Northeast are returned to their owners. However, if you have a “smart” car connected to wifi, either through a built-in system or a device you installed, that may increase your chances of finding the car. Teslas, for example, which have an app-accessible tracking tool, have an extremely high recovery rate throughout the U.S.
Does auto insurance cover theft?
Depending on your insurance, your policy may cover theft. Optionally, if you have a home, renters, or condo insurance, you may also be covered for any items that were in your vehicle when it was stolen. Typically, insurers don’t reimburse for the full amount. They pay out what’s called the actual cash value, which is likely less than what you paid for the car. This can be a problem if you lease your car or owe money on it. For that reason, there are some extra coverages that could help you to make up the difference. You can use gap insurance or replacement cost coverage. For example, gap insurance is an additional type of coverage that will pay out the difference between the ACV and whatever you still owe on a lease or a loan.
What if your car is missing but not actually stolen?
If you parked illegally, owe money on parking tickets, or have some other violations, it’s possible that your car was towed to an impound lot. Before filing a police report, check to see if your car was impounded with a ClearVin report. Also, depending on where you are, your city or town may have a hotline or an online tool that will let you look up if they towed a vehicle if you have the license plate number, and give you instructions to retrieve it.
Even if your stolen vehicle is returned, unfortunately, it doesn’t mean all your problems are solved. Most likely, it won’t come back in the same condition. If whoever stole the car didn’t strip it for parts, they may have trashed the interior. Once it’s recovered always give your car a thorough, careful check, including a car VIN lookup, to ensure that nothing dangerous or illegal has been left inside.