Handling Auto Claims: Vehicle Theft
Understand how to handle auto claims when dealing with vehicle theft with our insurance experts at Morris & Garritano.
Auto Claims and Vehicle Theft
In the unfortunate event you find yourself facing a vehicle theft auto claim, understanding how the insurance process works can ease some of the stress you’ll be facing.
We sat down with our dedicated in-house Claims Advocate, Heather Ross, at Morris & Garritano to discuss her experiences handling vehicle theft auto claims and talk best practices.
When and What to Report
She begins by explaining that the settlement process for vehicle theft is similar to that of a total loss after an auto accident. However, there are some additional considerations to bear in mind as you go through the claims process.
“It is important to report an auto theft right away,” Heather begins, “Even if you don’t carry comprehensive coverage on the stolen vehicle. The reason for this is simple: you don’t want to be held liable if the thief causes damage to other people or their property while driving around in your car!”
In the event your vehicle is stolen, report the theft to the police first, and then put your auto insurance carrier on notice. If the vehicle is recovered without any damage, you can always request that the claim be withdrawn later.
Heather continues, “If your stolen vehicle is financed or leased, you’ll want to advise your lienholder of the theft as well.” The claim may move more quickly if you authorize your finance or leasing company to discuss the case directly with your insurance company.
Heather reminds that coverage for any business property or tools stolen with the vehicle will most likely require that you file a second claim with the company that insures those items. Although some auto policies do include limited coverage for “personal effects,” the list of covered items is rather restrictive, and coverage is usually limited to a few hundred dollars.
Depending on your coverage, you may have options for a temporary vehicle or rental reimbursement to be provided while your claim settles. Ask to see if your policy provides for “transportation expenses” in the event of a total theft of a covered vehicle.
Settlement Processing for Vehicle Theft
The process to settle your claim will vary on a case-by-case basis. “Stolen vehicles are handled much like a total loss,” Heather explains. “Since it’s harder to determine the condition of a vehicle that can’t be inspected, the total loss adjuster may rely more heavily on purchase agreements and maintenance records to determine the vehicle’s value.” Some carriers have a minimum waiting period before settling an auto theft claim to allow time for the vehicle to be recovered by law enforcement or other means.
Heather offers some optimistic statistics saying many stolen vehicles are eventually recovered. If your vehicle is recovered, you should notify your adjuster right away. If your vehicle is recovered before the total loss is finalized, your insurance company will pay to have the vehicle returned, and for the repairs to bring it back to pre-theft condition (less your deductible, of course).
If the cost of repairs exceeds the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV), the vehicle will be reassigned to a total loss adjuster to continue the settlement process.
However, if your stolen vehicle is recovered after you’ve already settled the total loss, the vehicle will then belong to the insurance company. You may be able to work with the insurance company to buy your vehicle back from them with the settlement funds.
Auto Claims with Morris & Garritano
The stress felt during this process can be overwhelming but with M&G, you don’t have to face it alone! You can reach out to our dedicated team of advocates and experts anytime here at Morris & Garritano. Contact us at Account Manager for assistance with your claim or to learn more about the claims process. If you aren’t an M&G client yet, you may contact Dan Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to a risk advisor in our office.