Having your car stolen is shocking, inconvenient, and can be expensive. Knowing what to do if it happens to you can minimize all those elements.
First, be sure to insure your car. In the state of Massachusetts it is a legal requirement to have liability insurance. It is not a legal requirement to have comprehensive insurance. However, without it you will not be insured in the event that your car is stolen.
Whether or not you have comprehensive insurance there are steps that you must follow if your car is stolen.
Step 1. You must file a police report and you must do so as soon as possible. If you do not, you will be liable for any damage caused by your car and you will reduce the chances of recovering your car. Furthermore, if you have comprehensive insurance and you delay reporting the theft your insurers could deny your claim. When you file your report, the police will need to know the make and model of the car, the license number, the VIN, and any distinguishing features. They will also want to know the time and location of the theft.
Step 2. Once you have notified the police you must report the theft to your insurance company. If you do not have comprehensive insurance you are not making a claim, but rather you are informing your insurer so that you do not remain liable for any damages caused by your car while it’s not in your possession. If you have comprehensive insurance (fire, theft, vandalism, glass loss) may have belongings covered. Standard auto insurance does not cover personal belongings.
Step 3. Report the theft to your finance or leasing company. You will need to tell them of the theft and you will also need to give them the contact details for your insurance company—any claim will be paid directly to the finance company.
Step 4. Most insurance companies will not pay out on a stolen car until at least 30 days have expired so you will need to make arrangements for alternative transport. If you have comprehensive insurance you may be covered for a car rental. Check your policy and/or talk to your agent.
And finally, in the event that you need to replace the car and are considering buying one through a private sale, go to www.nicb.org/vincheck to mare sure it’s not stolen! The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a freely accessed database of all cars that have been reported as stolen but not recovered or have been reported as salvage vehicles. You will need the VIN of the car you wish to look up.