Does Car Insurance cover theft?

Modern cars are smart pieces of kit, with plenty of anti-theft and anti-vandalism features designed to keep your car safe from would-be thieves and criminals. But of course theft still happens, and you probably want to be sure that your insurance has your back. But does it always cover a stolen car? And what about things stolen from inside it?

Car Insurance and theft: the basics

If you take out comprehensive Car Insurance, you might expect it to be, well, comprehensive. Of course insurance can't cover every eventuality, but you’d probably expect this type of policy to be pretty far-reaching. So, does comprehensive insurance cover theft?

The answer is, usually, yes. Comprehensive cover can include theft in many cases. However, this might not be true 100% of the time. There are different types of comprehensive Car Insurance policy out there, and there are also different types of theft. Check the wording on your policy so you know what to do if your car is broken into.

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Car Insurance and different types of theft

What do we mean by different types of theft? Theft might not always involve a stolen car; instead, it might involve theft from a vehicle, or it might involve an attempted break-in. Whether your insurance covers your costs could depend on the details of the incident.

Insurance when a car is stolen

If your car is stolen — i.e., someone literally takes your car and makes off with it — your comprehensive insurance should cover it. It's probably a good idea to double-check this by reading the policy wording, and there could be some standard exceptions. For example, if the car was left unlocked and unattended, a lot of policies might not cover you.

Policies other than just comprehensive ones might also give you cover if your car is stolen — think things like Third Party, Fire and Theft insurance, which is a pretty common option. Again, you'll need to check the wording of your policy to make sure this is the case.

Insurance when a car is stolen temporarily

When your car is taken without your consent, it is usually considered stolen. It doesn't matter whether your car is gone for good or if it turns up a day or two later — this still generally counts as theft. But what if the thief was someone you know anyway and they return the car after taking it because they thought you wouldn't mind? Guess what — that can still count as theft!

If your car goes missing, it’s usually a good idea to notify the police immediately. Your insurance provider might need details from the police, so you should ensure the local authorities are aware of the theft.

What happens next is up to your insurance provider. If they believe the car could be found, they might want to wait until they settle the claim. When they settle the claim, they might offer you the market value of the car, i.e., the price the car would fetch if you sold it in normal circumstances. In the event that the car turns up, you might keep the payout while the insurance provider keeps the car, although this depends on your provider and the specific circumstances. If the police believe there is a reasonable chance of finding the car, they’ll generally keep looking for it — you shouldn't have to do anything else unless the police request further information from you.

Insurance when a car is damaged in a break-in

Even if the would-be thief doesn't manage to take your car, they might make a real mess while they try to gain access. They might break a window, smash a door or lock, or damage the ignition or other components while trying to make it start. Not a great scene to come back to, and this damage can be expensive.

So, does your insurance cover an attempted theft, even if it didn't result in a stolen car? If you have comprehensive insurance it often can, but you'll need to check the policy wording. Other policies might also give you some level of cover for things like this, but it’s less likely.

Insurance when items are stolen from your car

While your Car Insurance might cover damage if your car is broken into, does it cover theft from a vehicle?

Unfortunately, in many cases, Car Insurance doesn’t cover theft of items. Often insuring possessions left in your car can be added to a Car Insurance policy as an optional extra, but otherwise you might need a separate insurance policy, like gadget insurance, for that kind of cover.

Insurance when your car is used to damage the property of others

You might have heard stories in the news about stolen cars being used in crimes or getting involved in accidents. But who pays for all that damage caused?

Once the car is stolen, it's usually no longer your responsibility. The thief has committed a crime, and they are continuing to commit a crime by owning the vehicle. It's stolen property, and it will also not be properly registered or taxed — all of these things are crimes in the UK.

You shouldn't need to worry about additional liability or theft insurance here. Even though the car is yours, you shouldn't be held responsible if it is involved in further crimes with nothing to do with you. The thief, or anyone who handles the car after the thief has taken it, will be responsible for their own actions in most cases.

A few final tips...

A stolen or damaged car can be a real headache, but having insurance coverage can ease some of the pain. Before you head off, take a look at a few final tips from us:

  • A comprehensive Car Insurance policy will often provide cover for vehicles that are stolen or broken into.
  • You won't usually be held responsible for any further damage or criminal activity related to your vehicle if it has been stolen.
  • You could need an additional insurance policy or an extra add-on to cover items you have left in your car — even comprehensive Car Insurance won't usually cover theft of personal belongings by default.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.