Does Car Insurance Cover Gas Theft?
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There has been a marked increase in car thefts in recent months. Thieves are also drilling holes into fuel tanks in cars to steal gasoline, leaving many car owners with expensive car repair bills and empty tanks.
Insurance may cover damages caused by gas theft provided you have the right policy. Depending on the insurance company, you may even be covered for the stolen gas itself.
Keep reading to see what auto insurance covers, what you should do if you're a victim, and how you can help protect your vehicle from future gas theft.
Is Gas Theft Covered by Auto Insurance?
Insurance companies typically cover damages done to a fuel tank as a result of someone drilling a hole in it to siphon the gas. However, the type of coverage that will apply depends on the individual policy. In most cases, this type of damage would be covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. Good thing, because the cost of a new tank is anywhere between $400 - $600 and $800 - $1000 for a complete unit according to iSeeCars. And with labor rates ranging from $47 - $215 an hour according to AAA, you'll be paying a hefty price for that tank of gas.
Note: Comprehensive insurance is coverage that protects you from financial loss if your vehicle is damaged by something other than a car accident, i.e. theft or vandalism.
Is the Stolen Gas Covered by Car Insurance?
As to whether you'll be compensated for the stolen gas itself, this is completely dependent on your carrier. Some policies may cover the cost of stolen fuel, while others may only cover the repair or replacement of the fuel tank. For instance, State Farm may cover the loss of fuel under comprehensive coverage while a smaller carrier may not.
Why Is Gas Theft on the Rise?
The inability to pay for a tank of gas has been a factor in the rise of fuel theft. The price of gasoline has gone up significantly. The average cost for a gallon of gasoline, according to AAA, is $4.24. This steady rise is in part due to the Russia/Ukraine conflict.
Russia is the second largest supplier of crude oil to the world, and due to sanctions by the West, those prices have only continued to rise. High gas prices have put a hefty strain on the wallets of citizens all across the country.
Also, there is also something to be said about the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on society. The economy has begun to bounce back, and people are returning to work, but there are still some who find themselves in economic hardships during a time of high inflation. This reality has likely led people to acts of desperation such as stealing fuel from cars.
Why Are Holes Being Drilled Into Gas Tanks?
Drilling a hole in a gas tank is a quick way to steal fuel from a vehicle. Siphoning was once the way to go. The thief would run a hose into a fuel tank after removing the gas cap. They would then suck the fuel out through the hose. When it started to flow, they simply aimed the hose into a portable gas tank and were on their way.
Many vehicles today have safety devices that lock the gas cap in place. Some gas caps will lock if the entire vehicle is locked. Others have proximity sensors that only open when they detect your car fob. This means the thief would need to be able to physically enter your vehicle in order to steal fuel. This would naturally cause thieves to innovate by taking a power drill, boring a hole into the tank, and catching what they can. It's easy for them and costly for you.
What Should You Do if You're a Victim of Gasoline Theft?
If you're a victim of gasoline theft, the best thing to do is to report it to the police as soon as possible. Include as much information as you can, such as the time and location of the incident and any description of the suspect. Make sure you get a copy of the police report, which may be necessary when filing a claim with your insurer.
You should then file a report with your insurance company. Any damages to your gas tank would qualify as vandalism, which is covered by comprehensive coverage. Also, you may or may not be reimbursed for the cost of the stolen gasoline, depending on your insurer.
Can You File a Claim for Gas Theft?
You can file a claim for gas theft. In order to file a claim, you will need to provide proof that the theft occurred and that you are not responsible for the loss. This can typically be done by showing a police report corroborating your claim. In some cases, surveillance footage may also be used as evidence.
How To File a Claim for Gas Theft
Below is a quick overview of what you need to do to start the claim process if you have comprehensive coverage:
Document any damage to the car with photos or videos.
Contact the local authorities. A crime was committed.
Contact your insurance company and they will walk you through the proper steps to get reimbursed for damages.
Note: Always be sure you know what your deductible is when filing your claim.
How Do You Protect Your Vehicle From Gas Theft?
Here is shortlist of things you can do to help ensure your car remains safe from gas theft:
Store your vehicle in a private garage
Arm your vehicle with an alarm
Don't park in public areas for long periods of time
Make sure you're in high-traffic areas if you do park in public areas
Make sure you park with your fuel door facing the street
Install security cameras on your property
Make Sure You're Covered
Gas theft is on the rise, so it's important to know if your car insurer will cover your losses if you're ever a victim. To protect yourself, consider adding comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy while taking safety precautions to protect your vehicle. To offset the cost of adding comprehensive coverage, SmartFinancial offers free quotes for competitively priced auto insurance policies that fit your needs and budget. Enter your zip code below and fill out a quick questionnaire to get free quotes based on your answers.