You just walked outside and realized your car wasn’t in the spot you thought you left it.
First off, don’t panic. We know that uneasy feeling to find out your car has been stolen, so we have gathered a checklist to make this situation a little easier.
1. Determine if your car is actually missing
Take a deep breath and clear your mind. The moment you realized your car wasn’t in the place you expected you probably panicked and had a rush of emotions. If you are at the mall or just finished work, take a moment to think, did you park it on another garage level or on the next street?
If it’s missing from your driveway or garage, did a family member borrow it?
If after ruling these options out, think of the other possibilities. Did you park in a tow zone? Before you call the Police, check your local tow companies to see if it was impounded or repossessed.
If you have determined that it was not towed and a family member didn’t borrow it, your next step is to report it.
2. Call the police and report a stolen car
It’s very important that you act fast. The faster a Police report is taken, the easier it will be to track down the vehicle.
When you call your local Police you will want to have this list of information on hand:
- Insurance card with the VIN number
- Your license plate number
- The make, model, and color of the vehicle
- Where you last had the vehicle
- Tracking information if your vehicle has GPS technology
If you are not sure where this information is kept and you are reading this to be prepared in case it does happen to you, take a moment now and write it down somewhere safe (and away from your car).
Most insurance companies will not take a claim unless you have completed a police report, so it’s important that you do so first and gather a copy to give to your insurance provider.
3. Contact your insurance provider to submit a claim
Before thinking about what insurance policy you have, report your stolen car no matter what. We will talk about what insurance policies are needed to get the best coverage for a stolen vehicle, but we want to stress that no matter what you will want to report it (because you don’t know what your policy will cover yet).
Just like the list of information you needed for the Police report, there are things you can gather to prepare for your insurance company.
Your insurance provider will ask for the following and complete a thorough investigation before reimbursing you:
- Vehicle title
- Primary and spare keys
- Names of anyone who has access to your car
- Location and time of where you last left your car
- List of all items (personal property) that was stolen with the car
Types of insurance plans:
If you have limited liability coverage you are more than likely not going to be covered for vehicle theft, although they may cover property damage (so have your list of missing items on hand).
If you have comprehensive coverage they will typically reimburse you for the actual cash value (ACV) which is how much you paid minus depreciation. ACV will be negotiable, so do your research on the value of the vehicle.
To find out what your vehicle is worth, check out your country’s car evaluation site:
- United States: https://www.kbb.com/
- Australia: https://www.carsales.com.au/car-valuations/
- United Kingdom: http://www.autotrader.co.uk/car-valuation
Keep in mind that during the investigation you are the number one suspect. Unfortunately, there are people out there that abuse the system and commit fraud. Be prepared to wait around 2-8 weeks for the investigation and allow time for authorities to find your missing vehicle.
Note: If you are leasing or financing you will want to contact the lender and have them work with your insurance provider.
4. Report it to your Local Vehicle Registration Agency
Once you have submitted a police report and insurance claim ask your local vehicle registration agency if they have a database of reported stolen cars. Some agencies will work with Police to recover missing cars.
- United States: http://www.dmvusa.com/
- Australia: http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/transport-and-regional/registration-and-licences
- United Kingdom: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/driver-and-vehicle-licensing-agency\
5. Do your own research
During the waiting period, you can take matters into your own hands. Start by check online selling forums or sites such as Craigslist where thieves could be trying to sell it. It may be a stretch, but it’s worth a look.
Prevention is better than cure. How to avoid your car being stolen in the first place.
- Always lock your car/windows
- Keep your car clean (don’t have personal items plain site)
- Get tinted window to prevent people from looking in
- Don’t keep your spare keys near your car (if you keep it in your garage and leave your garage open)
- Never leave your car running and unattended
- Park in well-lit areas
- Talk to you car dealership about getting GPS technology installed
If you do end up finding your car we’re happy to hear that! However, make sure to contact your insurance provider to assess the damage, repair and missing personal items as they may cover it.
It’s scary to hear that 7 out of 10 cars are stolen from home break-in’s because the keys were left inside the home.
Here at Cammy, we are committed to decreasing crime worldwide, which is why we want to provide you with the tools are resources to protect yourself and your communities.
Find out keep your car safe with a complete home security system.
Have any tips for What to do if Your Car is Stolen? Let us know in the comments below.