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If my car is stolen, do I get what I paid for it?

There’s nothing worse than stepping out to your parked car only to find nothing but empty space. Thankfully virtually all comprehensive car insurance policies will cover you if your car is stolen but that means you need to pay for coverage that goes beyond basic liability coverage.

Contact the police

If you’re fairly certain that your car hasn’t been towed or misplaced it’s time to call the police and file a report. You will need to have information ready to give to the police including the license plate number the car’s make model year and colour. A description of the vehicle along with car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) will also be asked for. This unique 17-character number will appear on the dashboard or another part of the car as well as on car titles and insurance policies.

At this point the police will add your vehicle information to nationwide records which should help all jurisdictions in identifying and finding your stolen car.

Contact your insurance broker

After you file a police report call your insurance broker and let them know that your car has been stolen. More than likely your insurance provider will ask you to wait a certain number of days before the claim is processed. This length of time is determined by each insurance company and allows the police time to try and recover your stolen vehicle usually around 48 to 72 hours. During this time your insurance company will NOT reimburse you for a rental car or public transportation costs. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably have to pay the first few days of these costs upfront and a rental car will only be covered by your insurance company if you have the proper coverage and after permission has been given.

What will you get paid for your car if it’s stolen?

Comprehensive coverage means that if your car isn’t recovered you will receive the actual cash value (ACV) of your car minus the deductible. This translates to the cost of the vehicle minus any depreciation for wear and tear age mileage and condition minus the deductible.

For example if your car is three years old then depreciation would be deducted from the cost of a new car as well as your annual deductible say of $1,000. For some drivers the deductible may be waived if your car is stolen and never recovered.

To help you figure out what your car is worth go online to sites like Autotrader or Canada Black Book which allows you to input make model year condition and mileage and gives you an approximate value of the car.

To get the most from your settlement make sure you advise your car insurance claims adjuster of the car’s condition and features. Overlook a facet of the car and you may not receive the full actual cash value of the stolen vehicle.

When will you get paid for a stolen car?

Depending on the terms of your policy you can usually expect a settlement check sometime after 30 days. If your car is recovered during this time you may have to wait a bit longer as damage is assessed.

During this time do not remove the car insurance from the vehicle. While it seems odd to pay for coverage on a vehicle that isn’t in your possession you can’t discount the possibility that the police may recover the vehicle at any moment—and you won’t legally be allowed to drive it if you cancelled your insurance coverage. Also if required keep making car payments until your insurance company settles your claim. This way your credit rating doesn’t get damaged due to non-payment. When your insurance company compensates you for your stolen vehicle you can then settle the debt with your car loan lender.