What should I do if my car is stolen?

So there you are, ready to head back to your car after running some errands. You walk back to where you’re absolutely positive you left your ride. But there’s one problem – your car is not there. It’s just…gone. The last time you checked your car is not self-driving, so you feel an awful sense of dread as you begin to suspect that your car has been stolen and you’re the victim of car theft. Your main question is…now what?

There are a few things you need to do if your car is stolen. Take a look at the following steps.

1. Remain calm and think it through.

Let’s be honest:

Oftentimes we consider the worst possibilities before we let our more logical thinking take over. Instead of completely panicking, give yourself a minute to think about other possibilities. Maybe you parked somewhere else (hey, no judgment – we’ve all forgotten where we parked and driven ourselves crazy.) Perhaps you accidentally parked in a No-Parking or a tow-away zone. Could a family member or friend have borrowed it? Is it possible that the car was repossessed?

Yes, it’s easy to panic in these situations, but give yourself a second to think before raising any alarms.

2. Alert the police.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t logic your way out of this and locate your vehicle. Your car has been stolen.

Okay, it’s time to call the police and get them involved.

The faster you alert the authorities about the car theft, the better – you’re more likely to have your car safely returned. You should file a police report. Give the authorities details about your car – year, make, model, color, license plate number, and VIN number to start. (If you’re in need of your VIN number, check your insurance card.)

Pro tip: Tell the authorities if your vehicle has a GPS or navigation system. This could help them locate the car.

If you are the victim of car theft, you need to call your insurance company.

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3. Call your insurance company.

Once you’ve gotten the police involved, you need to call your car insurance company.

Now, you might be wondering: does car insurance cover me if my car is stolen?

If you have comprehensive car insurance, the answer is yes. Comprehensive insurance provides protection for losses or damages to your car that weren’t caused by an accident or collision. We’re talking about losses like fire, vandalism, falling objects (like trees), and theft. If you only have liability insurance, you won’t be covered for theft (or any other damage to your car) because liability insurance covers your legal obligation to a driver that you injure or whose property you damage in an accident. It doesn’t cover your vehicle.

4. Call your lender or financing company.

If you took out a loan and you still have a car payment, you’ll have to tell your lender that your car has been stolen. In most cases, your lender will work directly with your car insurance company to handle the claim. (Most lenders require you to carry collision and comprehensive insurance for this very reason – so they can get reimbursed if something happens to the car.)

5. Contact your Department of Motor Vehicles.

It might be a good idea to tell your local DMV that your car has been stolen. They may keep a record or database of vehicles that have been stolen.

How to prevent car theft.

Of course, you can spare yourself a lot of grief by taking steps to prevent your car from being stolen. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car is stolen in the U.S. every 46 seconds. Yikes.

You can prevent car theft by…

  • Always taking your car keys with you.
  • Closing and locking all windows and doors.
  • Parking in well-lit, well-traveled areas.
  • Not leaving valuables in your car
  • Hiding your belongings before you leave for your destination so you don’t have to move them when you get there.
  • Not leaving your car running and unattended.
  • Getting an anti-theft device.

(These tips will also help you prevent a car break-in.)

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Car theft can be devastating and very scary. If your car is stolen, you’ve got to make a few very important phone calls. Start with the police. Then call your insurer. Then call your leasing or financing company. Hopefully, your car will be safely returned to you.

Looking for some car insurance? We would be happy to help with that. Our agents are professionals at helping drivers get the best insurance at the best rate. Get started with your car insurance quotes by filling out our quote form or giving us a call today.