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Having your car stolen is a traumatic experience. You step out the door, and your car is simply gone – not there where you left it. Unfortunately, it happens every day to vehicle owners all over the U.S. The following is a checklist to prepare you in case that unhappy event ever happens to you.
Check to Make Sure Your Car Has Actually Been Stolen
If your car is not there in the spot where you think you left it, take a deep breath and a minute to consider the possibility that you may have parked it in a different location than you thought. Another possibility is that your car may have been towed for one reason or another. Make sure it really is missing before you call the police.
Call the Police to Report the Theft
If your car was not misplaced or towed away, it was probably actually stolen. Call the police as soon as you can. You will need to file a police report that contains all available information about your car, including the make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), and where the car was last located. If you have a tracking device, give that information to the police. Keep a copy of the police report for your file and your insurance claim.
Call Your Insurance Company and Report the Car Stolen
No matter what type of auto insurance policy you have, your insurance company will need to know that the car has been stolen is no longer in your possession. If your auto insurance only covers state minimum requirements, you may not be covered if your car is stolen. If you are underinsured, our experienced agents can help you find affordable auto insurance that includes coverage to protect you against theft of your vehicle.
If you have comprehensive auto insurance, it will provide protection against car theft. However, payout on your claim will not be immediate. Your insurance company will investigate to rule out fraud and may impose a waiting period of several weeks before paying your claim, in case the vehicle is recovered. When your claim is paid, you will be reimbursed for the actual cash value (ACV) of your car – what you paid for the vehicle minus depreciation. Be aware that ACV is negotiable, and insurance adjusters typically start low. Do your homework, use an ACV calculator to determine the cash value of your stolen vehicle, and do not hesitate to negotiate with the adjuster.
Report Your Stolen Car to the DMV
The Department of Motor Vehicles keeps databases of stolen cars, and they will work with the police to have your stolen car returned to you if it is recovered. Bear in mind that a large percentage of stolen cars are eventually recovered.
Search for Your Stolen Car Online
Look on Craigslist and other car sales forums on the off chance that your stolen car is being advertised for sale. It may be a long shot, but stranger things have happened.