How Does Auto Insurance Help When Your Car Is Stolen?

Car thefts are increasing across the US According to National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) data, more than one million cars were stolen in 2022. Thefts rose 7% in 2022 compared to 2021, making last year one of the worst on history. record since 2008.

The NICB recommends checking drivers to make sure their car insurance policy is up to date, but don’t assume that your policy will cover your stolen car. CNBC Select explains why you need comprehensive auto insurance to protect against theft, and what action you should take if you become the victim of a major auto theft.

You need comprehensive protection to cover theft

With the exception of New Hampshire and Virginia, every state requires you to have an auto insurance policy in order to drive. But chances are you’ll need a lot more protection than legally mandated if you want to get reimbursement for your stolen car.

Most policies that meet legal requirements provide some coverage, which is a type of insurance that can cover other people and property damaged when you are involved in an accident by mistake. This coverage primarily does not cover damage to your car that is not related to an accident, such as theft.

That’s where comprehensive coverage comes in. This type of coverage is not required by law, but can help reimburse you if your car or parts are stolen, and even covers things like damage from natural disasters, vandalism, and falling objects.

Car insurance with comprehensive coverage tends to be more expensive than other policies. You can save some money by taking advantage of companies that offer discounts on their policies. One of CNBC Select’s top picks, Farmers Insurance, makes coverage even cheaper with a 22% discount on auto insurance. You can get these discounts through various actions, such as driving safely, registering paperless bills, and more. Geico is also ranked as the best auto insurance company for affordable coverage and offers low average premiums for full coverage.

Farmers Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Application available

  • Policy highlights

    Farmer sells auto insurance in every state except Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, DC, and West Virginia and offers 22 deep discounts.


  • Offers 22 types of discounts
  • NAIC complaints below average
  • Ability to bundle coverage with other products


  • Not all discounts are available in every state
  • The average premium for maximum coverage is higher than the national average

Geico Car Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Application available

  • Policy highlights

    Geico coverage and service is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and there are 16 types of discounts available. In addition to the standard coverage options, Geico offers a variety of optional add-ons, such as emergency roadside assistance, rental car replacement, and mechanical breakdown insurance.


  • Lowest average fare
  • Inclusive coverage options, including high risk drivers
  • Available nationwide


  • High premium for high risk drivers
  • Fewer branches for face-to-face services

If you’re renting a car, you’ll want to pay by credit card that offers prime car rental insurance coverage. This covers rental car theft and allows you to make a claim directly through your credit card insurance provider, without first filing with your own auto insurance company. For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve offers primary rental insurance covering up to $75,000 worth of damage caused by accident or theft for rentals for up to 31 consecutive days.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Present

    Earn 5X total points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® as soon as the first $300 is spent on travel purchases each year. Earn 3X points for travel and other dining & 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points for Lyft travel through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. That’s $900 for rides when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

  • April Introduction

  • April regular

  • Balance transfer fees

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit required

How can your insurance help you when your car is stolen

Here are the steps you need to take if you find a pile of broken glass where your car was parked.

  • Report crime to police: Call the police and file a report with them ASAP. Be sure to have details about your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), title information (if you have it), and a photo or any additional information about the car that can help authorities identify it.
  • File a claim with your insurance company: You can start this process quickly online with almost any insurance company. You will need a copy of the police report, and a list of what was in the vehicle.
  • Play the waiting game: After a claim is filed, insurance companies usually have a 30 day waiting period to see if the car is found before payment.

If the vehicle is still not found, you will most likely receive a payment equal to the actual cash value (ACV), of the car minus your deductible (the amount you were responsible for paying before insurance coverage kicks in).

Something important to note is that AVC is not what you pay for the car. Instead, it’s the determined replacement value (generally equal to the amount you’d have to pay to buy the same or a similar model) minus the depreciation of the car.

Example of actual cash value

You bought a car for $40,000 five years ago. Over the last five years, the value of the car has depreciated by $10,000. However, the price of buying a new car of the same model has gone up by $2,000. The actual cash value of the car is the replacement cost of the car ($42,000) less depreciation ($10,000), or $32,000.

It is possible to get coverage that will pay the price of the new vehicle, called new car replacement coverage, for an additional fee. While not all insurance companies offer this, some do for certain new cars, including Farmers, Nationwide, and Allstate.

You should also remember that items in your stolen car may not be covered by your auto insurance. However, those items may be included in your renters insurance or home owner insurance. And if you bought those items with a credit card that offers purchase protection, you may be able to get some money back on your card.

Take steps to prevent car theft

Even if you have comprehensive coverage, having your car stolen is not ideal. While comprehensive coverage can help you repair or replace a stolen vehicle, you will still need to pay a deductible. Taking steps to ensure your car isn’t targeted can help you save time and potential headaches.

Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent it. NICB suggests parking in a garage or in a well-lit area. For those who have a car parked in their driveway, the NICB also suggests investing in motion sensor lights to deter potential thieves.

Steering wheel lock blades lock your steering wheel, preventing it from turning, and can be purchased for $25 to $50.

The main thing is

Car theft has increased significantly from year to year. While you can take steps to prevent car theft, you must have comprehensive protection in place if you want theft to be covered.

Editor’s Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of Select editorial staff only, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by any third party.

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