Are You Covered if Personal Items Are Stolen From Your Vehicle?
Vehicle break-ins can happen when you least expect it, even in your own neighborhood. Approaching your car and seeing shattered glass from a broken window is unsettling and scary. You’re dealing not only with vehicle damage, but also the fact that your personal belongings have been rifled through and stolen. Regardless of the type of vehicle you drive and where you choose to park, there’s always an unfortunate chance of a break-in occurring. “Smash and grab” incidents are usually reported in sprees, within the same area and time frame. By smashing a window, the thieves are able to steal valuable possessions, even if the glass is tinted and the doors are locked. A smash-and-grab can take just a few seconds from start to finish. You may be surprised to learn items stolen out of your vehicle, like a laptop, phone, wallet or sports equipment, are not covered under your auto insurance. If someone breaks into your car, your auto insurance policy will cover damage to your vehicle, but not stolen items unless they are an integral part of the vehicle (such as a built-in stereo system). Aftermarket parts and accessories Aftermarket parts, such as rims or a stereo system installed after purchase, need to be covered under a custom equipment and parts coverage endorsement to your auto policy. Custom parts and equipment (CPE) coverage, available through most auto insurers for an added cost, covers custom paint jobs and grilles, navigation systems, car stereo upgrades and anything else that the original manufacturer did not install. Homeowners, condo or renters coverage for personal property The good news is you’re not stuck replacing your stolen items out of your own pocket. If you have homeowners, condominium or renters insurance, everything you own is usually covered no matter where the items are at the time of the loss. This means whether your laptop is in your car, on an airplane, at a coffee shop or in your living room, damages and theft will be handled by your homeowners or renters insurance company. Note that you may receive less coverage for stolen items if the theft happens while the vehicle is parked somewhere other than your own property. Talk to your insurance professional to find out the terms of your specific policy. How to deter car-break-ins It’s impossible to protect your car completely, but there are many things you can do to help lower your risk. Here are a few safety tips to deter thieves: Try not to keep too many valuables in your car. Don’t leave objects in your car overnight. If you must, don’t leave them in plain sight. Always park in well-lit areas whenever possible. Keep your car locked and all windows rolled up. Never leave your car unattended if it’s running. Cover or detach your GPS or upgraded stereo to prevent thieves from spotting them when they walk by your car. Install a car alarm on your vehicle. If possible, park your car in a garage rather than in the driveway or on the street. When your vehicle is broken into, it can rattle you emotionally – plus, you have the financial costs of repairing your vehicle and replacing your stolen valuables. Don’t risk making a bad situation worse by not having the appropriate coverage. Contact your insurance professional to make sure you are properly protected.