Car theft. It’s something you think will never happen to you…until it does.

Unfortunately, car theft is all too common in the United States, with a car stolen every 26.4 seconds according to the FBI. And the odds of experiencing car theft are even higher if you live in a busy urban area.

Luckily, you have options. With the right car insurance, you can recover from the financial loss that comes with car theft.

And remember: Insurify has the tools you need to weigh your options and compare quotes so that you can make empowered decisions about your car insurance.

Your car has been stolen. Now what?

You walk out to your parking space and find it empty. Your car is gone—and your first instinct is probably to panic. This is completely understandable. But the first thing you should do is take a deep breath and spring into action.

Once you are sure your car has been stolen (and not towed), the first thing to do is call the police. The sooner you call them, the better your chances are of recovering your stolen vehicle. You’ll want to file a police report and outline the basic details of your car: the make and model, the license plate number, where you were parked, and any other relevant information.

Then, it’s time to reach out to your car insurance company. Depending on the type of coverage you have, you could receive a payout equal to the value of your vehicle.

Does your car insurance cover theft? It depends.

Keeping track of the different types of car insurance can make your head spin. A straightforward way to think of car insurance is in terms of collision coverage versus comprehensive coverage.

As the name suggests, collision insurance covers car accidents. Meanwhile, comprehensive insurance covers just about everything else, like weather-related damage, vandalism and, of course, auto theft.

Comprehensive car insurance isn’t required. Liability insurance is what almost all drivers have, and it’s not enough to cover your car in the case of theft. Because comprehensive insurance is an optional form of additional coverage, you’ll want to reach out to your provider and double-check if you have it. If you have a new vehicle or if you live in an area where car theft is common, it’s probably a good idea to look into comprehensive coverage.

Additionally, comprehensive coverage will cover damage to your car during the theft, such as broken windows or broken door locks.

So, how does the claims process work?

Once you file an insurance claim, you’ll have to wait a bit before receiving a payout. First, your insurance company will inspect the situation to make sure your car was stolen. If everything checks out, your insurance provider will calculate the actual cash value (ACV) of your car. To do so, it will take into account the original cost of your vehicle and the general wear and tear it has taken on.

After a waiting period of a few weeks, your car insurance company will reimburse you based on the ACV they’ve calculated (minus your deductible). Feel free to negotiate with your insurance company if you feel the ACV they’ve calculated is too low. After all, an adjuster will typically start on the low end when calculating ACVs.

Does car insurance cover theft of personal items?

What if your car is still in its original parking spot—but some pricey items that were inside the vehicle are missing? Laptops, cell phones, purses, and other personal property are commonly stolen from cars, but unfortunately, comprehensive coverage doesn’t cover these stolen items. Instead, homeowners insurance or renters insurance might protect you from these unfortunate situations.

If your car was damaged during this break-in, you can file a claim. Broken windows and broken locks that might lead up to vehicle theft can be covered by comprehensive coverage.

What are some other factors to keep in mind?

With the rise of keyless vehicles, more drivers are leaving their key fobs in their cars. This phenomenon is leading to an increase in car thefts with keys still in the car, which can make the claims process trickier. Check your insurance policy or talk to an insurance agent—but know that in most cases comprehensive auto insurance covers losses even if you left a key or fob in the car.

If your car is stolen, you may need to rent a car for a few weeks as you wait for your claim or your vehicle recovery. You’ll likely be given a claim limit to help cover the costs of a rental vehicle. If your original car is deemed a total loss, you will only have a certain amount of time to use a rental car. Eventually, you’ll need to find a replacement car.

What happens if your car is recovered?

If you promptly called the police after your car was stolen, there’s a possibility your car will be recovered. If this is the case, you can get the stolen car assessed after its recovery. If the vehicle has incurred damage since its theft, you could be reimbursed for these repair costs if you have comprehensive coverage. If there is so much damage, the car might be considered a total loss, and you’ll be awarded the ACV of the vehicle.

If your car is recovered after receiving your claim, you may have to give up your claim…or your vehicle. Be sure to have this conversation with your auto insurance company.

Insurify helps you find the right auto insurance for whatever comes your way. Finding the insurance coverage that meets your needs can be complicated—but Insurify makes the process easy by helping you quickly compare your options and choose what policy works for you.

Updated April 29, 2021

Mark Steinbach is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to his years of work as a copywriter, he is also a TV writer with a degree in English from Harvard University. When he isn't writing, he can be found playing tennis or doing crossword puzzles.