Your car probably is rarely empty. Between personal belongings that you stow in the trunk and glove compartment to portable electronics such as MP3 payers and GPS devices, it’s likely you have a considerable amount of personal property in your vehicle. If they’re in your car when it’s stolen or is burned to a crisp, don’t expect your automotive insurance policy to reimburse you for losses for any items contained in your vehicle.
Auto Insurance Basics
Insurance companies base automotive policies on the replacement value of your vehicle. While other factors that measure your risk of theft and accidents, such as your neighborhood, your driving record and the average distance driven each day, raise your premiums, your policy only covers the value of your vehicle. The replacement value of all items contained inside your car is rarely included in your automotive policy, including electronics that aren’t permanently attached to your vehicle, such as portable music players.
While your automotive policy isn’t likely to reimburse you for losses in personal property lost during the theft or destruction of your vehicle, your homeowner policy or renter’s policy may be able to extend to cover property contained in your vehicle. Homeowner's and renter’s policies don’t automatically extend to personal-property losses, so you should speak with your insurance agent to determine if your current policy provides that type of coverage. If it doesn’t, you may be able to purchase a rider to your policy and extend coverage to items contained inside your vehicle.
Personal Property Floaters
If you don’t carry a renter’s or homeowner's policy and routinely travel with an expensive item such as a laptop or a musical instrument, you may still protect against loss with a personal property floater. These policies offer protection for all qualifying property -- including electronics, musical instruments, furniture and appliances -- against theft or destruction. Personal property floaters cover losses regardless of the place and manner, save war, nuclear disaster and other rare occurrences, surrounding the loss.
Your comprehensive automotive policy only applies to losses and damages of your vehicle itself. If burglars break a window and damage a lock on your vehicle and steal a laptop from inside your car, your comprehensive policy covers repairs to the window and lock, but not loss of the computer. Similarly, if your car is stolen, your policy covers only the loss of the vehicle.