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Cars & Theft: What You Need To Know

Licensed drivers who get behind the wheel are required by law to have a liability auto-insurance package that covers the bodily injury of a third party and any damage to their property. But this state-mandated liability insurance does not cover the pilfering of your vehicle, whether it's a car, truck, RV, boat or ATV. Cars get stolen and vandalized but does car insurance cover vandalism and theft?

If you are worried about vandalism or your automobile getting swiped by a car thief, you need comprehensive insurance.

What Is Comprehensive Insurance?

A comprehensive insurance policy helps to alleviate the cost of replacing your ride if it's stolen. Not only that, comprehensive also pays to repair or replace your means of transportation if it's damaged or totaled in any incident that's not a collision. This type of auto insurance includes any claim for vandalism, including a broken window or steering column.

("Collision" insurance pays for your four-wheel machine to be repaired or replaced after an accident with another car, regardless of who is at fault. "Comprehensive" insurance basically covers your car when it's parked. Together, collision and comprehensive are called "full coverage" insurance.)

So, comprehensive covers auto abduction and a whole lot more. And it's pretty cheap, costing about $13 a month.

What Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover?

Comprehensive insurance covers the theft or attempted theft of your car or any of its parts as well as any damage from car vandalism. What's more, comprehensive also covers the following:

  • Damage from falling or flying objects
  • Damage from fire
  • Damage from a wildlife-vehicle collision
  • Damage from extreme weather conditions and natural disasters
  • Damage from vandalism or intentional destruction by a third party, such as during a riot

That's a lot of auto insurance for only $160 a year.

What Does Comprehensive Insurance Not Cover?

Comprehensive Insurance does not reimburse an insurance claim for the following events:

  • Damage or injuries caused to others
  • Repairs for damage from an accident with another vehicle
  • Repairs for damage from a collision with a stationary object, such as a stop sign
  • Repairs for damage from potholes and other bad-road conditions
  • The loss of personal items, such as a purse, an iPhone or a guitar
  • The cost of towing your vehicle after a breakdown or a flat tire
  • The cost of a rental car while your vehicle is in the body shop

In some states, your comprehensive car insurance policy may not cover windshield replacement, so ask your insurance company about that information. Of course, comprehensive will pay for the labor at the body shop.

Is Comprehensive Required by Law?

If you own your car, you only need to purchase liability insurance—comprehensive is optional, or "add on," insurance. But if you are thinking of financing or leasing a vehicle, your lender will most likely require you to purchase comprehensive coverage.

Auto Theft Is Happening in Your Town

In 2020, auto thefts in the U.S. totaled 873,080, a 9.2% increase compared with 2019, reports the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Believe it or not, 6,538 automobiles were "abducted" in Bakersfield, California, in 2019 alone. Crazy.

If you don't lock your vehicle in a garage at night, your car insurance premium—the amount you pay for your car insurance every year—will reflect the greater risk of car vandalism and larceny from parking it on the street. Of course, if you live in an area that's known for higher-than-average auto kidnapping and vandalism damage, your insurer will take these statistics into account.

Auto Theft Is Happening in Your State

If Bakersfield is the city with the highest number of car thefts, California is the state with the most auto thefts. Based on this risk factor, insurance providers are obviously going to calculate insurance rates differently for drivers in California, which had 141,757 stolen autos in 2019, and drivers in Vermont, the state with the lowest number, at 298, of stolen cars for the same time period.

Here are the states with the highest rates of stolen automobiles in 2019. If you live in one of these states, you should seriously consider comprehensive coverage.

State Number of Stolen Automobiles
California141,757
Texas77,489
Florida39,048
Washington24,402
Georgia23,776
Colorado22,113
Missouri21,072
Tennessee19,180
Illinois18,775
Ohio18,672

In fact, 11 states—Arkansas, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas—saw motor-vehicle larceny rates increase from 2018 to 2019.

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Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Vandalism?

Yes, vandalism is covered! Keyed paint, slashed tires, smashed windows and headlights, spray-painted graffiti, flipped cars, a piece of bologna that corrodes your vehicle's paint job overnight—comprehensive pays for the repairs that are necessary as a result of these mendacious acts of car vandalism.

People used to break into cars to steal the radio, but now they go for the almighty catalytic converter, which can be sold for as much as $200 due to the converter's precious metals (platinum, palladium, rhodium or even gold). According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, 14,433 catalytic converters were pilfered in 2020, up from just 3,389 in 2019. But don't worry, your comprehensive insurance will reimburse an insurance claim for this type of car vandalism.

The Most Stolen Automobiles in the U.S.

Is your beloved ride a temptation to others? The Honda Civic is the most frequently stolen passenger car in the U.S. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, most of these thefts are of older Civic models that lack an alarm system and other anti-thievery technology. Here is a look at the top 10 most frequently stolen automobiles in 2019:

Make and Model Number of Stolen Automobiles
Full-size Ford Pickup38,938
Honda Civic33,220
Full-size Chevrolet Pickup32,583
Honda Accord30,745
Toyota Camry15,656
Nissan Altima13,355
Toyota Corolla12,137
Full-size Dodge Pickup11,292
Full-size GMC Pickup11,164
Honda CR-V10,094

Surprisingly, the coveted BMW 3 Series gets stolen the least, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. Car thieves are not going away any time soon, so comprehensive auto insurance coverage is a smart investment. Where there's a way, there's a way!

Car Bandits Strike on the Holidays

Holidays are a wonderful time for friends and family to get together, but it is also a time when auto thieves whip into action. Interesting, right? Statistics suggest the four-wheel thievery spikes on New Year's Day, followed by (in descending order of riskiness) President's Day, Halloween, Labor Day, Memorial Day, New Year's Eve, Independence Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Tips To Protect Your Car From Thieves

If you are parking in a driveway, install motion-sensor lights so you'll be alerted when anyone comes near your vehicle. To guard against motor-vehicle thievery and the cost of claims, the National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends these common-sense tips:

  • Remove your car keys from the ignition
  • Lock all doors and windows
  • Park in a well-lit area
  • Use audible deterrents, such as one of the various car alarms
  • Use visual deterrents, such as steering-wheel locks
  • Don't keep valuables in your car (your "stuff" in a car is only covered by renters or homeowners insurance)

Vandals are looking for a window opportunity, so make sure they can't see any valuables by looking through your windows. No matter what insurance products you purchase, most insurance providers offer discounts to drivers who never file a claim. With a little thought, we can all deter vandalism and lower policy claims across the board.

Immobilization Devices Thwart Vandals

Immobilization devices prevent thieves from bypassing the ignition to hot-wire the car. These devices include smart keys, fuse cut-offs, kill switches, and starter, ignition and fuel-pump disablers. Insurers love this new technology, which protects your property so you won't have to file a claim. Find the method that works best for your car.

Tracking Devices Are All the Rage

Tracking devices are very effective in helping the police department recover your stolen wheels. Some systems combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If someone moves your vehicle, the computer system will alert you and help the police in their search. According to one source, about 20% of cars are recovered, but most of them need repairs.

If your business owns a fleet of vehicles, tracking devices will lower your insurance policy premium as well as provide a wealth of information on your drivers' on-the-road metrics.

Steps To Take After Car Vandalism or Robbery

Have lawless vandals stolen your ride from a New York parking lot? Has your own personal Batmobile been a victim of vehicle vandalism? Here are the steps you should take to report automobile robbery or vehicle damage due to vandalism:

File a Police Report

Contact the police as soon as possible, file a police report and tell them anything their questions ask. After you file a claim with your insurer, that insurance agent will want all the information contained in that official police report. So, be sure to get the police report.

If your automobile has to be towed, be sure to take out your personal items from the automobile. Your insurance company probably has a preferred repair shop; if you use an approved service shop, the claims process will likely go faster.

File an Insurance Claim

After you file a police report, you should immediately file a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance provider will want to know the date, time and location of the incident, the extent of the damages and your insurance-policy information. Some insurers have specific steps to follow, so the vandalism claims process will be easier for you.

An insurance adjuster will be sent to your house or the service shop to inspect the damages and assess the repair costs and the value of your auto. Even so, you or someone you know ought to take photos of your car from every angle to document your claim. For example, if vandalism has resulted in a broken window, that area should be documented with time-stamped images.

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Within minutes, SmartFinancial will match you up with the perfect insurance provider and policy. No matter what type of insurance products you value, SmartFinancial's licensed agents can help you to shop around, explaining anything you need to know about your potential policy.

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