Personal Finance

What can I do if car is stolen without comprehensive coverage?

Question: I recently had a car stolen from outside my home. I didn't have full coverage on the car because it wasn't being driven. Is there anything I can do to recoup up any value of the car? Its value is approximately $3,000.

Answer:  Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle for things that are "other than collision," such as the theft of your vehicle. Unfortunately, without comprehensive coverage, there is nothing your car insurance company can do for you. 

The only way to be compensated for your loss is if the car thief is found and convicted of stealing your vehicle.  Then, you could sue the culprit personally, but even if you get a judgment in your favor it's doubtful that a car thief will have the assets to repay you.

A liability-only car insurance policy only covers those that you harm. Bodily injury liability covers those that you may injure when at-fault in a car accident.  Property damage liability covers other people's property, usually a car, that you are liable for damaging.  In no way is your car protected with only liability coverages.

If your vehicle is older or not being used and you find it better financially to take full coverage ( collisionand comprehensive) off of it, then you are unable to make claims against your policy if your car is damaged or stolen.

Comprehensive coverage is generally pretty cheap, compared with liability insurance, and is probably worth keeping even on cars that aren't being driven, for the theft or vandalism or natural disasters that can occur right in your own driveway.

What you should do about your car being stolen is make a police report and notify your insurer.  The police can be on the lookout for your stolen vehicle and be aware that you are not driving it if it's involved in auto accidents or criminal acts.

Informing your insurance carrier of the vehicle theft could help protect you if the thief causes damage to others with your car.  Your liability coverages normally don't cover damages that your stolen car does to others since you cannot usually be held liable when the car is under the control of a thief.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that 57% of stolen vehicles are recovered, so it is possible that your car will be found.  If it's recovered, you'll have to pay for any damages to it yourself, again because you don't have comprehensive coverage to cover it.

For recovered vehicles there usually are towing, storage and impound fees you will have to pay to get your car back.  You may be able to get help with this because, in some areas, there is a crime victim's fund set up that you could seek reimbursement for these fees.  Check with your local or state government if you find yourself needing this type of help.

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

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