What to Do if Your Car is Stolen

By Insurance.com Posted : 06/23/2009

The worst has happened.

You only ran into the coffee shop for a second. You could even see your car from the shop window. But now you're in the parking lot and your car is not. It's gone. It's been stolen. What do you do now?

The experts at Safeco Insurance offer the following advice. It is advice you can follow no matter what company you use for auto insurance:

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  • First contact police and file a report. Make sure you get the report number. You'll want that later.
  • Next, call your insurance company to report a claim. You'll want the following information handy:
    • When and where you last saw your car (date, time and location)
    • Year, make and model
    • Vehicle Identification Number
    • The police department where you filed your report
    • The police report number
    • And your contact information

Once you file a claim, it will be assigned to a representative who will review next steps with you, give you an overview of what your policy covers and answer your questions.. If you're entitled to a rental car, your claim rep will help with that, too.

Be Prepared
Car thefts are on the decline, so that's good news. The year 2008 was the fifth consecutive year of decline in motor vehicle theft, by 12.6 percent, the largest single-year percentage decrease since 1999, according the National Insurance Crime Bureau. But that's no comfort when it's your car that's stolen!

The first step, as always, is to ensure you have the right coverage to pay for the costs of a stolen vehicle. For example, most insurance companies wait an average of two to four weeks if the stolen car is not found before authorizing the purchase of a new car, so you could end up paying as much as $1,000 to rent a car during the interim if you don't have rental car or substitute transportation coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Most experts suggest reviewing auto policies once a year to make sure they will cover your needs if your vehicle is stolen or damaged in a crash.

Then review the list in the section above and keep that information in a safe location - somewhere other than your car. The information will come in handy for both your police and the claims reports.

Tips to Prevent Car Theft

Worried about the possibility of your car being stolen? If so, the National Insurance Crime Bureau urges you to follow a "layered approach" to auto theft protection by employing the following steps:

 

  • Common Sense: Use the cheapest, most basic form of defense lock your car and take your keys.
  • Warning Device: Use a visible or audible warning device/alarm system.
  • Immobilizing Device: Keep a would-be thief from staring or taking your car by using "kill" switches, fuel cut-offs, and smart keys. They are among the devices which are high and low tech, but extremely effective.
  • Tracking Device: Consider the higher end of high tech tracking devices. These are among the newer devices available, and they can alert both you and law enforcement the moment an unauthorized user moves your vehicle.
  • Passive and Active Anti-Theft Systems: Use one of these systems to help thwart a would-be thief. Passive devices automatically arm themselves when the vehicle is turned off, the ignition key removed, or a door is shut. Active devices require some independent physical action before they are set, such as pushing a button, or placing a "lock" over a vehicle component part.

Other tips to consider, thanks to the Los Angeles Police Department:

  • Never leave your car running unattended.
  • Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked.
  • Always park in high-traffic, well-lit areas.
  • Never leave personal identification documents, car title, or credit cards in your vehicle.
  • Leave only the ignition key with valets and mechanics.
  • If you're purchasing a high-value vehicle, ask about an upgraded anti-theft system. Consider choosing one that shuts off the fuel supply so that a car can't be started or driven.

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1 Responses to "What to Do if Your Car is Stolen"
  1. Ernest Colburn 25, Aug, 2013

    Report to the police, tell them the details of my car, and let police will find the offender.

      Reply»  

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