Does Car Insurance Cover a Stolen Car?

Here's what you need to know to insure your car against theft.

Kayda NormanMay 25, 2021
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Finding out your car has been stolen can be a nightmare, but buying the right coverage can help you avoid paying for a new car yourself.

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Does car insurance cover theft?

Car insurance can cover a stolen car, but only if you have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive insurance pays the current value, or actual cash value, of your car if it’s stolen and not recovered. This coverage also pays for damage from vandalism, weather, fire and animal collisions.

This means you’re covered if your entire vehicle is stolen or if a specific part, like your car keys, are taken during a car theft. Any damage done (like a broken window) while your car is being stolen will also be protected

One thing comprehensive insurance won’t cover? Personal property inside your car. You’ll need renters or homeowners insurance to pay for any belongings, minus the deductible.

Insurance needed

Item taken during a theft

Comprehensive insurance

  • Entire car stolen

  • Vandalism

  • Catalytic converter

  • Stolen keys or fob

  • Car damaged while stolen

Renters or homeowners insurance

Personal items inside car

Nerdy tip: If your car is broken into, take pictures of the damage, call the police and don’t move your vehicle until a police officer gives the OK. Here’s what else to do, step by step: What to do if your car is broken into

Is car theft insurance worth it?

Whether or not comprehensive insurance is worth it depends largely on your car’s value since you are paid the value of your vehicle at the time of the theft. Comprehensive claims also have a deductible, which is the amount you pay before your insurance pays the rest.

The maximum payout from comprehensive coverage is the value of the vehicle minus your insurance deductible. If you have an older car, consider whether the cost of comprehensive coverage over several years is worth the potential insurance payout. Remember to subtract your deductible from the vehicle’s value.

For example, let’s look at the scenario below:

  • You pay for comprehensive coverage for a Honda Civic for five years = $1,500.

  • Your vehicle is stolen and was worth $4,500 at the time.

  • Your deductible is $1,000.

  • Insurance payout: $3,500 ($4,500 minus $1,000 deductible).

In this example, you paid $1,500 for coverage but received $3,500 when your car was stolen. Although you won’t be able to buy a new car with this money, you’ll be better off than if you didn’t have insurance.

Although comprehensive coverage is relatively affordable, there are some instances where you might have to buy comprehensive and collision insurance together, like if you have a car loan or lease. This may increase your insurance bill considerably because collision can cost twice as much as comprehensive, or more.

Even so, you can still find a reasonable rate. Always shop around and compare car insurance rates to get the best price.

Other car insurance to consider

Although these insurance options won’t cover stolen cars as much as comprehensive insurance, you may be happy you have them if your vehicle is ever missing:

  • If you have a car loan or lease, consider buying gap insurance, which pays the difference between what you owe on a car loan or lease and the value of your car at the time it’s stolen or totaled. After all, if the actual cash value of your car is only $1,500 and you have $2,000 left on your loan, you’ll still be left to pay $500 out of pocket.

  • If you don’t want to drive an outdated car, look into new car replacement coverage. This insurance will pay for a new vehicle of the same make and model minus the deductible if your car is stolen or declared a total loss. It generally only applies to newer cars, less than 3 to 5 years old.

Top 10 most stolen cars

No matter the precautions you take, some vehicles are more attractive to criminals. Driving an older car is often a smart financial decision, as they're typically more affordable to buy and insure. But an older vehicle could also make you a target for car thieves.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau “Hot Wheels” report identified the 10 most stolen vehicles in 2019 in the United States according to vehicle theft data.

Ford Pickups and Honda Civics are at the top of the list, with over 70,000 thefts combined. And older models of those cars are the most targeted by thieves:

Vehicle

Total thefts in 2019

Model year most stolen

Ford Pickup (Full Size)

38,938

2006

Honda Civic

33,220

2000

Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)

32,583

2004

Honda Accord

30,745

1997

Toyota Camry

15,656

2007

Nissan Altima

13,355

2015

Toyota Corolla

12,137

2018

Dodge Pickup (Full Size)

11,292

2001

GMC Pickup (Full Size)

11,164

2018

Honda CR-V

10,094

2001

The makes and models of vehicles on the NICB’s most-stolen list haven’t changed much over the past few years. However, the NICB found that the total number of reported vehicle thefts in the U.S. increased 9.2% from 2019 to 2020.

How to make it harder to steal your car

If your vehicle is on the 10 most stolen cars list, you might feel a brief wave of panic. But you can take steps now to ward off car thieves. Here are some ways to prevent car theft:

  • Always turn off your vehicle if you’re not in it and take the keys with you. Even in your own driveway.

  • Lock all doors, windows and the trunk or hatch every time you leave your vehicle.

  • Use anti-theft systems in your car, such as external steering wheel locks, hood locks, tire locks, kill switches, car alarms and tracking systems such as Lojack. Bonus: Having an anti-theft system might qualify you for a discount on your comprehensive car insurance.

  • Choose parking spaces that are off-street, highly visible and well-lit, whenever possible. Also, don’t leave your vehicle in an unmonitored parking lot or parking garage for long periods of time.

  • Never write your name or address on your keychain. If lost, thieves can use this information to locate and steal your vehicle.

  • Park your vehicle with the front end facing an obstacle, such as a wall or guardrail, whenever possible. This makes it harder for thieves to tow or roll your car away if they can’t get it started.

  • When you must park on the street, park with wheels turned toward the curb and lock the steering wheel. Again, this makes it harder to tow your car away without damage.

  • Have your VIN number chemically etched on your windows by a car dealership or local police department, if it’s not there already. Etching makes it harder for thieves to resell your vehicle and its parts.

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