Does car insurance cover stolen personal belongings?

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Your car is broken into and your laptop or watch gets stolen. Does your car insurance cover stolen personal belongings? Should you file an insurance claim? Unfortunately, car insurance usually does NOT cover items stolen out of your car. But luckily, there are other ways to insure personal belongings that are stored in your car. Read on to learn more.

Does car insurance cover stolen personal belongings?

No, as we mentioned, car insurance typically does not cover items stolen out of your car. Car insurance typically only covers your liability in an accident or damage to your car itself, but not the contents within a car. After a theft, you may be able to make a claim for the broken glass or busted lock the thief caused, but not for the contents that were stolen.

Very rarely car insurance policies will actually have coverage for personal belongings as an add-on. However, this coverage has a very small limit (likely under $1,000) and should not be relied upon in the event of a theft.

How can I insure personal items left in my car?

You may be surprised to learn that personal items are typically covered by your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy. Most homeowner’s or renter’s policies protect your property even if the property is not within your home or apartment. This coverage, however, is not always included. The specific coverage you will need is called “off-premise”. Off-premise coverage is usually included in a homeowner’s or renter’s policy, but sometimes you may need to purchase a separate rider. Review your insurance policy or speak with your agent to confirm you have this coverage.

How much insurance coverage do I need for personal items kept in a car?

Typically off-premise coverage has a limit equal to 10% of the total personal property coverage in your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy. So if your homeowner’s policy insures up to $50,000 in personal property you will only have $5,000 in coverage when outside your home. There will also likely be exclusions for specific expensive items including fine art or rare firearms. You should check with your insurance company to confirm you have broad enough off-premise coverage to suit your needs.

What should I do if you regularly drive with expensive items?

If you are consistently carrying expensive items in your car, you may want to consider other insurance options. It may make sense to do some or all of the following:

  • Insure your expensive items individually
  • Increase your homeowner’s or renter’s limits
  • Increase your off-premise coverage specifically

If you are transporting expensive cargo regularly as part of a job or hobby, you may also need a separate commercial policy. Talk to your agent to discuss these options and determine what makes the most sense for your individual situation.

What should I do if I am a victim of theft?

If you find that your car is broken into and personal belongings stolen there are a few steps you need to take to get insurance coverage. First, call the police and have them file a police report, your insurance company will need this report during the claims process. While waiting for the police, you should take pictures of you car and surrounding area and document as much as you can about the incident. You should then call your home or rental insurance company to report the loss and begin the claims process.

Even if your insurance company fully reimburses you, no one likes to be a victim of theft. In the future, you should try to avoid getting your items stolen in the first place. The two best things you can do are: 1) Remove any expensive items from your car whenever you leave and 2) Always make sure your car is locked and parked in a secure place.

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