Does my policy cover carjacking?

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Question: Is a carnapping or carjacking covered by insurance?

Answer:  Yes, the theft of your vehicle that takes place during the carjacking should be covered under comprehensive coverage .  If you have only liability on your car or just collision as physical damage coverage, you're not covered.

In general, carjacking and carnapping are synonymous and mean that your vehicle is taken by intimidation or by force and violence and is sometimes referred to as armed robbery of a motor vehicle.

Carjacking is such a serious crime that the Insurance Information Institute notes it's a federal offense, which is punishable by up to life imprisonment or even punishable by death if it results in someone being fatally injured.

If your car is taken by a carjacker, any damages the vehicle does to others would not be covered by your policy since they were done during a criminal act and without your permission. 

If found, your car should be covered, under your comprehensive coverage, for damages it sustained while in the control of the carjacker. If your car isn't recovered, or found but its repair costs are around the same as its worth, then your comprehensive coverage would pay you the car's actual cash value instead of repairing it.

With a carjacking, there is the possibility that you could be injured by the assailant who steals your vehicle, and this is where it can get tricky. 

With coverages like personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments and uninsured motorist bodily injury, you might be covered if you are injured during a carjacking or attempted carjacking.

In some states, such as Florida and Washington, courts have upheld that PIP should pay for injuries resulting from acts of violence that are associated with the use of your vehicle (such as a carjacking) since PIP is for injuries resulting from the ownership, maintenance and use of your car.

In other states, court cases have decided that an owner's uninsured motorist bodily injury policy can be used if the person is hit by his own car once the carjacker has taken control of it. 

For injuries associated with a carjacking, courts and insurance companies look at many factors, such as whether the injury took place inside or outside of the vehicle, the terms of your policy, state laws and the outcome of court cases already tried on this issue.

The best way to find out if injuries sustained in a carjacking are covered by your policy is to ask your auto insurance company directly.  You can also contact your state's insurance regulator to obtain general information on this issue.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance

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