If your vehicle is stolen, your auto insurance will pay to replace the vehicle but not personal possessions that you may have left in it. Auto insurance is not intended to insure your personal property, its purpose is to protect you financially in case of an accident or to fix your car in the event of fire, theft, hail storm or some other cause of loss.
The comprehensive portion of your auto insurance is what pays for non-accident-related losses. Unfortunately, the coverage only extends to the vehicle itself and not its contents. If you leave personal property in your vehicle, such as a laptop, cell phone or even your wallet, you may be out of luck.
There are a few things to consider when thinking about personal items in your vehicle and whether or not they would be covered in the event of a loss:
- Are there items permanently affixed to your car such as an aftermarket stereo? Basically, if the item is portable or can be easily removed and put back in the car, it would not be considered "permanently attached”.
- If it was attached to your car, did you purchase an endorsement or added coverage for the aftermarket or non-manufacturer equipment? If you have added items to your car, like a new, more expensive stereo, you should consider adding a Custom Parts & Equipment (CPE) endorsement.
If you own or rent a home or apartment and carry homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance, it will cover your loss if you have proof you actually owned the lost items, usually in the form of a receipt. In such cases you should always file a police report and follow the proper procedures, and with any luck you can recoup your losses.
Unfortunately, most homeowner's policies have a higher deductible than a car insurance policy. So unless you are the victim of a significant theft amount, there is a good chance that the property stolen from your car won't meet the amount needed to file a claim. Some auto insurance companies now offer endorsements that will give you a limited amount of coverage for your personal property which avoids your larger homeowner deductible and more importantly putting in a claim against your homeowner policy.
To summarize personal items in your vehicle and how your insurance company will likely handle that:
- The best course of action is to avoid carrying valuable items in your vehicle at all, if possible.
- If you permanently attach additional items to your vehicle, contact your insurance agent about adding a CPE endorsement. Your insurance company will likely ask for receipts to confirm the equipment or items so be sure to keep them.
- Contact your homeowners insurance company to find out how they handle claims for personal items stolen out of your vehicle.
Being prepared and having good information can help you avoid unfortunate situations like personal items being stolen from your car.