What to Do if Your Car is Stolen
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 750,000 vehicles were stolen in 2015 alone and 42 percent of vehicles were never recovered. If just the thought of having your vehicle stolen makes you see red, stop and take a breath. When your car is stolen, you need a clear head and a plan. Anything else will slow down the process of possibly recovering your vehicle and getting you back on the road.
Think Things Through
You walk out of the store, keys in hand, ready to finish your errands or get home. You know where you parked your car, but it’s not there. What happened? While it’s possible your vehicle has been stolen, think things through first. Did you park in a no parking zone? Were you behind on your payments? Before you panic and think your car has been stolen, make sure it hasn’t been towed or repossessed first.
Call the Police
Once you’re sure your vehicle is stolen, it’s time to call the police. Gather your insurance information, because it will likely have information on it that you and the officer will need. Of course, you’ll need to provide the make, model, year, and color of your vehicle. The officer will also likely ask for your vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, and your driver’s license number. If you can’t find this info, the police officer or your local insurance agent should be able to help pull the information from registry records. Also, let the officer know if you have LoJack or something like OnStar. If you do, your vehicle may be trackable.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Don’t call your insurance company until you’ve filed a police report. The representative you speak with will want you to do that first before they can do anything. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, there may not be much your insurance company can do, but call anyway. They’ll ask you a lot of questions including what personal belongings were in your vehicle, the location of any keys you have, and the name of anyone who had access to your vehicle. Your insurance company may also need a copy of your title.
Contact Your Lender
You may have a lease on your vehicle or you may have financed a car loan. If so, you’ll need to call the lender or leasing company after you talk to your insurance company. It will probably be easiest for everyone if you ask that the insurance company and lender or lease company work together through this process. If any claim is paid out, some or all will need to be used for the remaining balance on your auto loan/lease.
An Ounce of Prevention
Many vehicle thefts are crimes of opportunity. Thieves are looking for unlocked cars and open windows so no one notices what they’re doing. To help prevent your vehicle from being stolen, keep your car locked at all times. Yes, this means even in your own driveway. Take your keys with you. Don’t leave “spare” keys in or around your vehicle. Newer vehicles won’t lock if it senses keys left inside.
Hopefully your vehicle is never stolen, but if it is, make sure you have the right kind of auto insurance to cover you. Full coverage, which includes comprehensive, is needed to pay a claim. If you have a loan on your vehicle, consider GAP coverage until the amount you owe on your loan is less than the value of your vehicle. It will make a difference between paying for a car you no longer have and receiving enough to help buy a new one.
Contact us at Ross Insurance to make sure you have the right kind of auto insurance for the car you have.