Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?

Here's what you need to know to insure your car against theft.
Kayda NormanSep 9, 2021

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Whether your auto insurance can help you after a theft depends on what was stolen. Comprehensive coverage pays out for almost anything besides an auto accident — including most car theft scenarios.

No state requires this insurance, so you’ll need to add it if you have only minimum coverage.

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Car theft insurance at a glance

Insurance needed

What's covered

Comprehensive insurance

  • Stolen car.

  • Vandalism.

  • Stolen catalytic converter.

  • Stolen keys or fob.

  • Damage to the vehicle during theft.

Renters or homeowners insurance

Personal items inside the car.

Does car insurance cover a stolen car?

Car insurance can cover a stolen car, but only if you have comprehensive coverage. If your car is stolen and not recovered, this coverage pays the current value, or actual cash value, of your vehicle.

Comprehensive claims have a deductible, which is the amount you pay before your insurance pays the rest. If you have an older car, compare the value of your car to the cost of your deductible and how much you pay for coverage. If there isn’t much difference, you likely don’t need comprehensive insurance.

In some cases you might have to buy comprehensive and collision insurance together, for instance 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.

Vandalism and theft of personal property

Comprehensive insurance covers vandalism, which includes broken windows or other damage resulting from a theft. This coverage also pays out if a thief takes a specific part of your car, such as your keys.

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

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.

How to prevent car theft

Anti-theft systems such as external steering wheel locks, kill switches and car alarms can deter car thieves. Bonus: Having an anti-theft system might qualify you for a discount on your auto insurance.

But you don’t need fancy equipment to protect your car. Here are some other 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.

  • Choose parking spaces that are off-street, highly visible and well lit, whenever possible. 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 it’s 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. 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, turn the wheels 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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