Does Auto Insurance Cover Items Stolen From Your Vehicle?


Auto insurance can be difficult to understand, especially if you need to understand whether or not your loss is going to be covered. If you are the victim of theft and items of value were stolen from your vehicle, you may be worried about how to recover for your loss. The good news is you may be compensated.


If you have auto insurance, items stolen from your insured vehicle may be covered. However, that depends on a number of factors. The first factor is what specifically was stolen. Items that are permanently attached to your car may be covered. Unattached items are not covered in most cases. Another factor is the type of auto insurance you have: not all policies cover theft. However, even if stolen items are not covered by your auto insurance, your renter's or homeowner's policies may cover your loss.


To determine how to be compensated for your loss, you first need to identify whether or not the stolen items would be considered permanent fixtures of the automobile. Obviously, steering wheels, mirrors, and similar items would be covered. If you’ve added custom parts to your car, such as speakers, which are not meant to be removed, these would be covered. Other cases are not as straightforward. For example, if you have a GPS unit or CD system added to your car but that unit can be removed completely from the car, it will not be covered by your auto insurance policy under any condition.


The terms of your policy determine whether or not a specific loss is covered. Many policies meet only the minimum legal requirements for auto insurance. These policies include bodily damage and property damage for accidents but do not offer any protection against theft. Only comprehensive insurance plans offer theft coverage.


If your property is not covered under your auto insurance policy, you could still receive compensation by making a claim against your homeowner's and renter's policy. Unfortunately, you will not receive replacement value for your lost property. Most insurance policies pay "actual cash value," the amount you paid for the item minus its depreciation. That means if a three-year-old laptop you paid $1,200 for is stolen from your car, you may receive less than half what you paid for it.


To process a claim by either type of insurance, you need to provide to show proof of loss. That proof can come in the form of a police report or a receipt. If you no longer have receipts, return to the store where the items were purchased and request a copy. Thanks to the computerized systems that track purchases, most stores can print copies of your receipt easily.

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