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Navigating the murky waters of auto insurance might be one of the most frustrating events you’ll ever face. That’s especially true if your car has been stolen. Several questions will come up, including whether your insurer will replace your stolen car. The answer isn’t always as clear as we’d like.

Help, my car’s been stolen!

insurance stolen car
A man breaking into a parked car at night | Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Vehicles are so integral to our daily lives that having them stolen can be devastating. There’s a long list of things you’ll need to do, such as calling the police, notifying your insurance company, and informing the loan agency that you’re no longer in possession of the car on which you’re still expected to make payments. Then there’s the emotional distress of dealing with the trauma of losing something so valuable.

Even worse is the fact that you might never get your stolen car back. Even if you do, it’s doubtful it will be in the same condition in which it was stolen. In fact, Erie Insurance reports that only 45% of the stolen cars in the United States make it back to their owners.

However, one of the biggest questions you’ll face is, “Will my insurance replace my car if it’s stolen?” 

So, will insurance replace my stolen car?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question depends on your insurance company and the type of coverage in your policy. Car theft is covered by a comprehensive policy, so if you don’t have one, your insurance company won’t help.

If you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance will award you the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle, minus the deductible. That’s where things will likely give you a headache, because the ACV and how much your loan company says you owe might not match up. 

The ACV is essentially how much your car is worth when it was stolen, not how much you paid for it. That means if your loan amount is higher than the ACV, you’re still expected to pay the remaining loan principle. Some policies might help cover you in this situation, so be sure to speak with your insurer.

If you have rental car insurance, your insurer will pay for transportation for a few days, but there’s an limit on how much time you’ll have.

As for replacing your car, if you still have money left over from the ACV, you can put that toward a new vehicle. If you don’t have extra funds, your insurance company won’t give you a replacement.

Ways to prevent car theft


5 Things You Should Do if Your Car Has Been Broken Into

Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to prevent all car thefts. A determined car thief will find a way to succeed. Thankfully, many individuals who steal vehicles aren’t like the group from Gone in 60 Seconds, who do it for the challenge or because they think it’s a noble art. In fact, most thieves look for the easiest opportunity.

That said, don’t leave your keys in your car when you’re not in it. Also, keep the doors locked at all times.

Car alarms might not be perfect, but they’re a good deterrent. No potential thief wants all eyes on them as a car alarm blares. That’s especially true for someone trying to make off with your vehicle. 

There are also options like immobilizers, fuse cut-offs, and even wheel locks that might deter thieves. However, keeping your valuables hidden from curious passersby will make your car a less tempting target.

Finally, always park in busy, well-lit areas. That’s important for your personal safety and to deter would-be thieves from stealing your car.