No one ever wants to think about their car getting stolen, but it happens more often than we realize. While it is hard to predict your car being stolen, it’s important that you understand what you need to do once it occurs. Timing is very crucial in cases of theft. The faster you react, the better your chances of seeing your car again will be. This post will serve as your guide for what you need to do upon finding out your car has been stolen. It covers steps for reporting the vehicle stolen and how you can further prevent this.
What’s Next After Your Vehicle Has Been Stolen
Time is of the essence when pretty much anything is stolen. If you have found your vehicle has gone missing, it is vital that you take action immediately. Failing to report your vehicle stolen could be detrimental to you and your finances. Not to mention that the longer you wait, the less likely it is that you reclaim your car. Outlined below are detailed steps you should take if you have your car stolen.
File a Police Report
Upon discovering your vehicle is missing, you need to immediately file a police report. The police will help locate and obtain your vehicle safely and within the law. Before filing a police report, you want to make sure you revoke permission if a friend or family member has borrowed your vehicle and will not return it. Make sure no one has permission to use your vehicle, then begin taking the following steps to alert the police of your situation:
- Gather information on your car and account for all your personal items - In order to report your car stolen, you will need to provide the vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, and proof of ownership (this can include the car’s title or registration information). You will also be expected to provide personal identification, such as your driver’s license. It is important to make sure you have all this required information prior to calling the police. If you are unsure about your vehicle’s information, your insurer should have its details on record. While gathering personal information, make sure you also take inventory of all the belongings that may have been in your vehicle when it was stolen. Make a list of them. This can include personal items in your glove box and your trunk. By having a comprehensive list ready, the police can be aware of personal items should they turn up outside your car, like at a pawn shop.
- Call the police to start your report - If you are not in immediate danger, you can use the non-emergency police number to report your stolen vehicle. If you are witnessing the theft or have been left stranded, call the emergency number. Inform the officers that your car has been stolen and let them know where you last saw it. Give as much information as you can about the vehicle. This includes little details like bumper stickers or tinted windows. Let them know if you have a GPS in the vehicle, as it can be used to track it.
- Make sure you obtain a copy of the report - A written report may not be available right away, especially if you report it over the phone, so the officer who took down your information and story will let you know where to get a written copy. Once it is available, you will need to present your case number and photo identification ready to pick it up. You will want to keep your copy of your report on hand just in case something happens with the police’s copy. You need proof for your insurer that you filed a report.
- Follow up with other information, if needed - While the investigation is being conducted, if you learn any other information that may be helpful to locate your vehicle, you should share it with the police right away. For example, someone informs you that they saw your vehicle parked in a driveway. Let the police know where you believe your car to be. Never just go and try to recollect your vehicle yourself. The police will update your file with this new information and proceed accordingly.
- Stay in touch with the detective on your case - You usually will not receive updates from the detective on your case unless your vehicle has successfully been found. For this reason, it may be helpful to call occasionally and ask for updates. Do not call every day as police officers are very busy and handle multiple cases. If you feel the need to, give them a call maybe once a week to ask about their progress and any potential leads. Be polite and understanding. Having your car stolen is an incredibly frustrating thing to deal with, but you shouldn’t let your emotions get the best of you.
Alert Your Insurance Company
After you have a police report filed, you are going to next inform your insurance company. They typically require a report to be filed first before notifying them and starting the claims process. This is so your comprehensive coverage can be enacted since it covers theft. However, even if you do not have comprehensive coverage, you should still inform your insurance company of the theft. By alerting them, you will not be held responsible if the thief gets into an accident in your vehicle.
- Report theft to the insurance company right away - Do not wait to report the theft to your insurer. They need to know that you are no longer in control of your vehicle in the event that an accident involves your car. You will not be held liable then for any damage or injuries that have been caused. If you are in a situation where someone has borrowed your var but failed to return it, still inform your insurance company. It is crucial that you are not held financially responsible for an accident someone else has caused using your car.
- File your claim - If you have comprehensive coverage, you should file a claim with your insurance company for the stolen car after doing the police report. Your insurer will need information on your vehicle like description, last known whereabouts, location of keys, and who has access to the car. Cooperate with them and provide all the information you are able to so they can get a good idea of the situation at hand. They will eventually settle on a payout based on your coverage limits and deductibles.
- Assist with the investigation as necessary - Insurance fraud is a very serious and common thing for insurance companies to deal with. Do not be offended if your insurer is a bit suspicious of you at first. You may have to speak with your insurance company’s fraud department upon filing your claim. Answer all their questions honestly and completely to set the record straight. If they request any additional information or documents, provide them as soon as possible. You should also make a note of when you speak with the insurance company. Keeping records may help you in case your insurer brings up more concerns.
- Alert your renter’s or homeowners’ insurance, if applicable - If any personal belongings were in your car at the time of the theft, let your renter’s or homeowners’ insurance know. These items may be covered under your policy. But do not take this step until you know for sure that your items have truly been stolen. You should also keep in mind your policy coverage limits. If the value of the items stolen is less than your deductible, it may not be worth it to go through the claims process. You’d be better off just replacing the items yourself.
Reporting to Your Financing or Leasing Company
If your car is financed or leased, you will need to let the finance company know when your vehicle has been stolen. You should not assume that your insurance company is taking care of this. They can, but verify with them before you choose not to call your finance company. If you do not have comprehensive coverage, chances are your insurance provider will not alert your finance company of the theft. No matter the circumstances, if your stolen vehicle is being financed or you have a lease on it, the finance company must be informed of what has happened.
Notify The DMV of The Stolen Car When Required
Whether you need to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will depend on your state’s laws about reporting vehicle theft. In most states, you should report car theft to your state’s DMV as soon as possible. Make sure you have any police reports and insurance documents to prove that you are the owner of the vehicle. Reporting to the DMV may be a long process with all the paperwork required.
Reviewing Your Car Insurance Policy
As annoying and stressful as having your car stolen can be, it is a great example of when comprehensive coverage can come in very handy. It highlights the importance of full coverage auto insurance. Do not wait until your vehicle has been stolen to start considering the worth of comprehensive coverage. It is highly recommended that every driver carries some amount of it. It is usually paired with collision coverage, which will help pay for damages to your vehicle following an accident. These types of insurance are very valuable to invest in and can seriously save you when things go south. Take time to review your car insurance policy to pinpoint any gaps in coverage.
You Found Your Vehicle: What Happens Now?
If your vehicle has been recovered, let me extend my grandest congratulations to you. Lost items turning up is not rare, but it also isn’t exactly common, so it’s a very exciting thing when your stolen item has actually been found. But just because you have your vehicle does not mean everything is completely resolved. There are still a couple of things you need to do before you can officially put this incident behind you. Once you’re notified your vehicle has been found, you must make sure to do the following:
- Retrieve your vehicle - Once the police have your vehicle in their possession, they will notify you where you can pick it up. They typically take it to an impound lot. To get your vehicle out of the impound lot, you will have to prove you are the owner and pay any impound fees. Try to inquire about this information prior to arriving at the lot. The police officer on your case should be able to provide more insight on how much the impound fees are and all the paperwork they will require. You should also ask if your car is in proper working order. If it has been damaged, you will need to call a tow truck and have it transported to a repair shop. Never try to recover your vehicle on your own. This means that if someone informs you that they spotted your vehicle, do not try to take it back. Alert the police, and they will handle it properly. You never want to handle car thieves by yourself.
- Inform your insurance company - Following being notified by the police of the status of your vehicle, call your insurance provider as soon as possible. You will need to speak with your insurance adjuster so they can update the claim. Once the claim is updated, they will let you know what to do with your vehicle should it have any damages. Typically, insurance companies advise you to take it to a mechanic to get it checked out, even if you are not sure the car has sustained any damage. Make sure you follow their protocols on the matter so they will cover any repairs needed.
- Inspect the vehicle carefully - After reuniting with your car, make sure you inspect it closely. Get a flashlight and take note of every inch of the interior. Look on every seat, between and under them. Don’t forget to also check all storage compartments in your vehicle. Make a note of anything that is missing or items that do not belong to you, most likely from the thief. This could be evidence of another crime committed using your car, so make sure you do not touch anything you do not recognize. Alert the police immediately of your discovery and allow them to process it.
- Take it in for any repairs needed - Even if you have inspected both the inside and outside of your vehicle, it would still be wise to take it to a repair shop for a proper inspection. Mechanics can inspect your car more thoroughly, and they have a better idea of the kind of damage that may be present. Damaged parts may not affect your vehicle right away but can certainly harm it later down the line. You want to address them right away before you end up stranded in your vehicle. Once the mechanic has reviewed your vehicle, they will give you an estimate for the repairs. If your insurance covers the repairs, accept the cost you have been estimated. For instances where you have to pay out of pocket, get a second and third opinion on repair costs to make sure you are getting the best price.
Preventing Car Theft
Dealing with a stolen vehicle can be incredibly stressful. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can try to make your car less appealing to thieves. Honestly, there is no way to truly make sure your car will never be stolen but taking some simple steps can hopefully decrease the chances of people setting their sights on your vehicle. Outlined below are some common, relatively easy ways to prevent your car from being stolen.
Lock Doors And Close Windows
Thieves are typically opportunistic. This means that if they happen to come upon an unlocked vehicle, they are most likely going to take advantage of it. It is rarely a personal attack and normally just unfortunate luck for you. This is why it would always be wise to make sure your car windows are closed, and all doors are locked before leaving your vehicle. When your car is secure, the thieves will be less inclined to try to steal it. They will eventually look for an easier target.
Anti-Theft Devices Are a Must
If your car does not already come with one, it would be helpful to install anti-theft devices. This could mean something as simple as a car alarm. Alarms are very noisy and incredibly effective. If someone tries breaking into your car, the alarm will go off, scaring them away. Thieves tend to not want to attract attention to themselves, obviously. A simple car alarm can go a long way. You should also look into installing tracking on your vehicle, like a GPS navigational system. If your vehicle does happen to be stolen, a GPS can help law enforcement find it faster. Your chances of getting your vehicles back go up as well.
Watch Out For Valuables
Leaving anything of value in your car will put it on the radar for thieves. Something as simple as spare change in your cupholder will be appealing. In order to assure that your car is not at risk of being stolen, either hide or remove any valuable items from your vehicle. If you must keep something important in there, like a purse, try hiding it under your car seats or drape a blanket over it. If you can remove any personal items, it would be best to do so.
Whether you’re a new driver or interested in switching insurance providers, Insurance Navy can help no matter the risk you bring to the table. Insurance Navy offers cheap car insurance quotes at no cost to you. Request a quote online or give us a call at 888-949-6289.