It is essential to know exactly what your policy will cover in the event of a theft or accident before it happens. How much your auto insurance will cover for a stolen car depends on whether you have comprehensive insurance included in your policy.
While liability insurance is required in most states, comprehensive coverage is not. Purchasing comprehensive coverage can protect you from damage not resulting from a collision, including:
- Falling objects
- Certain natural disasters
- Glass damage
- Damage from hitting an animal
What to Do if Your Car is Stolen
If your vehicle has been stolen, contact the police immediately. One of the first questions your insurance company will ask is whether or not you've filed a police report. They will not honor a claim for vehicle theft unless you first file a stolen vehicle report with the police.
After filing a police report, contact your insurance company and let them know that your car has been stolen. Typically, they will verify the year, make and model of your car, date and time of the theft, where the car was parked, and if you have any security devices on the car.
Most insurance carriers have a minimum waiting period for a stolen car claim to be finalized. In order to see if the vehicle can be recovered, the waiting period may be up to 30 days. If your car is not recovered, your comprehensive insurance should cover the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle. If the car is found damaged, you will be paid the repair costs minus any applicable deductible.
How Much will Your Insurance Cover for a Stolen Car?
If you are unfamiliar with how actual cash value works, ask the insurance adjuster to explain it in detail. Most insurance policies state that the ACV of any vehicle is the market value minus depreciation. You can find your vehicle's actual cash value by checking reputable sites such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds, which can help YOU ensure that you’re getting the full value of what your car is worth.
Claims adjusters typically offer values in the low range to begin a claim, so you may have to negotiate to come to an agreement. Once you've accepted the claim settlement, you will be asked to sign ownership of the car over to the insurance company. Once you accept an offer you cannot request additional money, so it is essential to make sure you are clear on the full value of your vehicle.
Disputing the Amount Your Insurance Will Cover for a Stolen Car
If you're dissatisfied with your insurance company’s offer, you have the right to dispute it. Compile detailed evidence such as Kelley Blue Book value, information from independent appraisers and other details to back up the valuation of your vehicle. Point out any factors that increase its valuation, such as low mileage or excellent condition. Make sure that adjuster has not made an error on the features and model of your stolen car, which can also account for a lower offer.
If your insurance company suspects that you have committed fraud, they may deny your claim. All insurance companies perform due diligence when investigating stolen car claims, including:
- Speaking with friends, family and neighbors to corroborate your story
- Talking to witnesses to determine the last time the car was seen
- Reviewing statements you have made to police
- Pulling credit reports to look for signs of financial trouble
- Checking your current employment status
- Investigating any other potential fraud
Insurance companies are required to review stolen car claims fairly and in good faith. If you file a stolen car claim and your insurance company undervalues your vehicle or unreasonably denies your claim, you may be able to file a bad faith lawsuit. Contacting an attorney who is well-versed in stolen car claims and experienced in dealing with insurance companies can help you get the full value for your car.
When you meet with an attorney, make sure to bring a copy of your insurance policy, denial letter, police report and all correspondence regarding the claim, including emails, letters, and transcribed recorded statements.
If you are dissatisfied with the amount your insurance will cover for a stolen car, or have submitted a claim that has been unreasonably denied, contact Lowman Law Firm at (352) 796-0016 or toll-free at (866) 9-LOWMAN.