Whether it’s because you’ve accidentally let your insurance lapse, you don’t have the right kind of insurance, or you’ve been driving around with insurance, getting your uninsured car stolen is a pain. If you’re wondering what happens when your car is stolen without insurance, keep reading to get a crash course in everything you need to know.
Stolen With No Insurance That Covers Theft
Even if you have the minimum amount of insurance — liability, in most states’ cases — you still might not have the right kind of insurance that comes into play if your vehicle gets stolen.
The type of policy that covers theft is called comprehensive auto insurance. This type of insurance financially protects you from having to pay for damages such as falling items hitting your car, fires, hail, and — most importantly in this case — theft. If you don’t have theft, you might have to take on the cost of the vehicle or accept that you won’t be reimbursed for it.
If you have some personal items in your vehicle that are worth filing an insurance claim over, it’s important to note that comprehensive insurance only covers the car, not the items in it. If you have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, you may be able to file a claim for your personal property through that policy.
If you don’t have insurance on your vehicle, the best thing you can do at this point is call the police. The good news is that the odds are in your favor. In 2020, the recovery rate for locally stolen motor vehicles was 56.4%. Odds are, the police will find your vehicle in two or a few days and return it to you. However, many vehicles are returned damaged. How fast you get your vehicle back — if you do get it back — and how much it was damaged is all in the luck of the draw.
Stolen Financed Vehicles
Odds are, if you’re still financing your car, you have comprehensive insurance. Many or most vehicle financing agreements require you to fully insure your vehicle with liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance.
However, a problem that might arise is that the maximum amount your comprehensive insurance will pay out is based on the actual cash value of your vehicle. This is a number that your insurance company decides on using industry standards. Where the trouble begins is when the amount you owe on your vehicle is greater than what your comprehensive insurance pays out when that vehicle is stolen. Once your insurance pays out what it deems your car is worth, its job is done. You’re left with the remainder of the loan unless you have gap insurance, which would cover this difference.
If the thief is apprehended, you could sue them for the rest of the amount you have to pay on your loan. But if they don’t have the money, this might not be worth the time.
Regardless, you’ll need to get in touch with your lender to report the vehicle stolen, preferably as soon as possible. Your lender will be able to walk you through the next steps and let you know what’s to come next. If your vehicle is recovered, call your lender to let them know so that they can stop the process.
What To Do When Your Car is Stolen
The first thing you should do when your car is stolen is to make sure that it is actually stolen. Ask your friends or family members if they moved your car or borrowed it. Make sure you didn’t park it somewhere else by accident. Sometimes, we’re quick to panic and jump to the worst-case scenario of our car being stolen when it has just been misplaced or borrowed.
If you’re sure your vehicle has been stolen, you should then call the police, whether or not you have insurance. If you see the theft taking place and you’re calling the police as it happens, you should call 911. But if you discover your vehicle is missing after a night of sleep or while it’s been parked for a long time, call your police station’s non-emergency number to report the crime.
You’ll need to give the police all the information you know about the vehicle, including its vehicle identification number (VIN), where you last parked, and your vehicle’s make and model. Once the police are notified and fully informed of the situation, you should then call your insurance company. Though you may not have the type of insurance that covers the theft of your vehicle, your insurance company might still offer some benefits that could help you, such as rental cars.
If you don’t have insurance at all, your list of things to do might stop here. You could go and look for the vehicle yourself if you think you know where it might be. Be sure to let the police know. You can also report your stolen car to your local DMV, which has a database of stolen cars.
Even once your vehicle is found, you may have to pay extra fees to get it back. Once the vehicle is recovered, it may be impounded. It may also have been towed to the impound station. The longer your vehicle sits in storage, the more you might have to pay for its stay. You could have to pay all these bills to get your vehicle back even after it’s recovered from being stolen. See if there is a crime victim’s fund in your area that can help reimburse you for these extra charges.
Whether you need insurance advice or a how-to guide to maintaining your vehicle, you’ll find a great wealth of resources and information in our blog section. Getting acquainted with the ins and outs of vehicle ownership, along with a dashcam like this one from Owlcam, is one of the best ways to protect yourself on the road.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.