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What Should I Do If My Car Is Stolen?

While a relatively low percentage of cars in the United States are stolen each year, if it happens to you it can have a significant impact on your finances and life. This is especially true if the person whose car is stolen does not have insurance. Insurance is essential for many reasons, but your auto insurance policy can help protect you from the theft and vandalism of your car if it occurs.

Steps To Take If Your Car Is Stolen

If your car gets stolen, the first thing to do is breathe in and breathe out, then follow this advice to make sure everything that needs to be taking care of is. Following this set of guidelines and advice, you will be able to navigate what needs to be done successfully. When a car is suddenly no longer there, it can be traumatic and highly emotional. The hope is that your vehicle will never be stolen, but if it is, utilize these steps:

The first thing that you should do if your car is stolen is verify that it has actually been taken. Many people come across sudden fear when their vehicle is not where they thought it was, especially if they are feeling sure about its former location. Fortunately, the car can end up being on another block, in another row in the parking lot, or in some cases towed. While the last one is not the best scenario, is better than a stolen car. Take the time to breathe and think about where your car could be. Also, check the area where your car was and make sure no signs are stating that your vehicle could be towed for being parked there.  Also, if you are behind on your car payments, the lending company may have towed your car. After pondering, and checking these things, some people call the police impound lot before making a stolen vehicle report. Making a stolen vehicle report is time-consuming and can take a lot of energy to do, following these steps before doing one is a good plan.

If you have not misplaced your vehicle, and have not had the things listed above happen, your car may have been stolen. It is important not to spend too long on the step above. Efficiency and timing are vital for the recovery of a stolen vehicle. The sooner you file a police report, giving the police the needed information about your car, the more likely your vehicle is to be recovered. Having the VIN of your car can be a huge help, and many people choose to write that down and keep it somewhere safe just in case. Also, the cars year, make, and model are essential pieces of information. The location that you last had your vehicle, and whether you have a tracking device such as OnStar, can also help the police more quickly track down your vehicle. Keep a copy of the police report once you have made it. If you need to file a car insurance claim having a copy of the report will make things a lot easier. Around 85% of stolen vehicles are recovered; so taking the proper steps to recover one can pay off.

After you have filed a police report, call your car insurance company and report your car as stolen. Regardless of the type of insurance policy you possess, the car insurance company will need to know that you are not in possession of the vehicle in case an accident occurs. Most insurance policies that only provide coverage at the state's minimum requirements will not include reimbursement for a stolen vehicle. Comprehensive insurance coverage is needed to cover things such as theft, vandalism, and weather-related damage. Take time to look over your insurance policy, and weigh the risks of where your car is generally garaged and parked to determine which insurance coverages make the most sense for you.

Which Types Of Insurance Coverage Should I Have?

How much coverage you choose to get is often based on how much your car is worth and how much of that value you want to get back in the event of theft or collision. It is always an excellent plan to shop around and compare policies to find the best rates. Speaking with insurance agents directly can also help answer questions about your coverage and coverages that you are considering. 

Even if you have comprehensive insurance coverage, it may take some time for a payout to come your way. Plan for an investigation by the insurance companies, and keep in mind that the vehicle owner is often the number one suspect when a car is stolen. Insurance companies want to rule out fraud before they pay a car insurance claim for theft. Also, many insurance providers have a required waiting period that can range up to eight weeks or more. This waiting period is in place to allow time for the vehicle to be recovered before making a payout on the claim.

After the investigation, if everything pans out, the claim the insurance company provides is for the actual cash value of the vehicle. This value is often the amount you paid, minus the depreciation of the car. The payment you receive is the actual cash value of the car with the deductible removed. Arming yourself with research about your vehicle's value, including calculators at Kelly’s Blue Book and other similar resources, you will want to be ready to negotiate with your car insurance provider to get the most reimbursement you can.

In addition to reporting your vehicle as stolen to both the police and your insurance company, you will want to report your car stolen to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. The Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, will often work with police to get stolen vehicles that are put in its system back to their rightful owners.

Outside of these things, people have also had success by taking the search into their own hands. Many stolen cars are resold online, so looking at online vehicle selling forums and other websites like Craigslist may help you find your stolen vehicle while the people who took it try and offload it. While there is likelihood that you will not find your car online unless it is a unique one, there is a chance to find it; people do have success with this.

It's okay to get emotional and find healthy ways to take out some of the stress that comes from having a vehicle stolen. Keep in mind that around 85% of stolen cars get recovered, so sometimes giving it a little bit of time proves to be a significant benefit.

The Importance Of Insurance

Car insurance can be vital, and with the theft of vehicles that happen in some areas, your coverage can provide a large amount of financial assistance. Paying for a new car is a considerable expense, and if your vehicle is suddenly stolen that expense is completely your responsibility if you do not have comprehensive automobile insurance. 

How To Protect Your Car From Thefts

Being aware of where you are parking your car is essential, as is making sure that precious items are not resting on the seats. When thieves see easy access, they are more likely to break into a car, and given time they may choose to try to steal this car as well.

Installing noticeable security devices on your car is another way to protect your vehicle from being stolen. Also, GPS systems can be installed in a vehicle, which makes it easy to find your car's location. This cannot only deter criminals but can also help the police recover your vehicle if it is taken.

For more expensive vehicles, vehicles that are easier to steal, and vehicles that are often parked in areas where theft is more prominent, steering wheel locks have been used with great success. A steering wheel lock is a device that fits over or into your steering wheel that prevents it from being turned. In order to steal a car that has a steering wheel lock, the steering wheel lock would need to be removed. This is hugely time-consuming, and most thieves take a pass on attempting to steal vehicles that have these on them.


Preventative measures are a great plan when it comes to the security of your vehicle. That said, a number of cars are stolen each year and knowing the steps to take when an automobile theft occurs is extremely important. Your car insurance agent can answer any questions you have about how your policy protects you financially if your vehicle is stolen. If you are the victim of a car theft crime, take the steps in this article to increase your likelihood of a positive resolution.

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