Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich


It doesn’t matter whether you have a brand-new convertible or a simple family car with a couple of thousand miles – car theft can affect us all. If someone breaks into or steals your car, you may wonder if insurance can cover the loss. 

Does car insurance cover theft? Yes. Car insurance, specifically comprehensive car insurance, covers theft in most cases. Read on to learn when it applies.

When does car insurance cover theft?

Your auto insurance covers theft only if you have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage is optional and is for non-collision events. It’s an excellent way to save money and add more protection to your car, so some drivers choose comprehensive over collision insurance.

The average comprehensive coverage cost varies based on age, driving history, location, car, make, and model. The national average for full coverage, including comprehensive, is $1,600 annually, and 79% of drivers carry comprehensive insurance

What does comprehensive coverage include?

Comprehensive coverage is for vehicle damage unrelated to an accident. Without it, you would be forced to pay thousands to repair or replace your car after an incident. It covers incidents such as:

  • Theft
  • Weather-related damage, such as tornadoes or hail
  • Vandalism
  • Damage from a collision with an animal
  • Glass breakage

Most lenders require it as a condition of a car loan. 

How does comprehensive coverage work regarding theft?

Only comprehensive coverage covers you with theft, whether someone breaks into your car or steals your vehicle. Some carriers include theft of your car’s custom parts and accessories under comprehensive coverage.

Stolen vehicles

There’s always a chance someone may steal your car, as statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and Insurance Institute find a rise in vehicle thefts across the country, with over 1 million vehicles stolen in 2022

The 2004 Chevrolet Pick-Up (full size), the 2006 Ford Pick-Up (full size), the 2000 Honda Civic, and various Kia and Hyundai models are among the vehicles thieves frequently target.

If someone steals your car, comprehensive coverage helps pay for the loss, whether the police find your car or not. If someone goes on a joyride and crashes your car into a tree or a fence, your insurance pays to repair or replace your vehicle if you have comprehensive coverage. 

Stolen parts or accessories

Comprehensive coverage covers car parts and accessories if they’re part of the car’s function. For instance, comprehensive insurance won’t cover that fuzzy steering wheel cover, but it will cover your catalytic converter, as that’s essential for your car. Other covered parts and accessories can include:

  • Damaged door locks
  • Tires
  • Rims
  • Hubcaps

Accessories not covered by comprehensive car insurance include seat covers, LED screens, and dash cams. 


Vandalism is when someone targets your car and damages it, such as by breaking windows or deliberately scratching the paint. Comprehensive coverage covers vandalism for the vehicle’s repair costs. The insurer pays the auto body shop for the repairs or reimburses you after you pay the fees.

Coverage limitations or exclusions

Insurance carriers don’t automatically cover every incident with comprehensive coverage. Every insurance carrier features exclusions and limitations, such as your belongings and maintenance issues with your car. 

Personal belongings

Thieves may steal from your vehicle if they spot an opportunity, particularly in high-crime areas. Valuable Items such as purses, wallets, briefcases, and small electronic devices are common targets in car thefts. 

Comprehensive coverage is for the theft of items installed from your car, not items left in it. However, you may claim personal belongings theft under your homeowners or renters insurance. 

After-market modifications

Many car owners love to modify their cars, adding new lights, trim, and other features that aren’t standard on their make and model. Whether comprehensive coverage covers after-market parts, such as a custom stereo, varies by carrier. 

Some policies may cover up to a certain amount after your deductible, but you need separate insurance if you have a car with multiple modifications. Custom parts and equipment (CPE) coverage is an insurance add-on for enhancements, accessories, and alterations. A standard limit for CPE coverage is $5,000. 


Comprehensive coverage features a deductible where you pay a specific amount for your car’s repair or replacement after a claim. The insurance carrier pays the remaining costs after approval based on your vehicle’s actual cost value (ACV). 

Insurance only pays if costs exceed your deductible. If you have a $300 repair and your deductible is $500, your carrier won’t cover the whole expense. Comprehensive coverage deductibles range from $100 to $2,000.

Factors affecting theft coverage

Theft coverage for your car depends on what kind of car you drive if it’s commonly stolen, and where you live. You may pay more or less in theft coverage based on these factors. There are also ways to enjoy valuable insurance discounts for features in your car that guard against theft. 

Vehicle make and model

What you drive can make you a more likely target for theft, and to compensate for this, insurance carriers may charge you more for comprehensive coverage. Sports and luxury cars are common targets, as are big-engine vehicles. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, vehicles at the top of the list of most-stolen cars include:

  • Dodge Charger HEMI
  • Dodge Challenger
  • Infiniti QX50 and QX80
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Chevrolet Silverado

Some vehicles have much lower theft rates, which lets you pay less in comprehensive coverage than a high-theft car. These makes and models include:

  • Volkswagen Beetle
  • Mazda Miata
  • Tesla Series 3
  • BMW 3-Series
  • Subaru Outback

Location and theft rates

Where you live can also affect your comprehensive coverage rate. If you reside in an area with high car theft, your rate will reflect this. 

Drivers in the worst cities for car theft, such as those in Bakersfield, California, or Denver, Colorado, will pay higher comprehensive rates. Conversely, drivers, on average, pay lower rates if they live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or Daytona Beach, Florida, because these cities are among the best for car theft rates.

Anti-theft devices

Most insurance companies offer anti-theft device discounts because the device’s presence can deter thieves and lower theft risk. Discounts vary by the anti-theft device type and carrier but range from 5% to 25%. 

Such devices can include manual anti-theft technology, such as a brake or steering wheel lock. It also includes passive-disabling devices and engine immobilizers. Vehicle recovery systems and GPS trackers can also yield discounts. Like safety technology, these options improve the security and safety of your car.

What to do when your car is stolen

After someone steals your car, you can’t sit around in dismay for too long. You should take action quickly with a police report and other steps to improve the chance police can recover your car.

1. File a police report

Contact the police and file a report within 24 hours of your car’s theft. Be prepared to submit the following information:

  • Your full name and address
  • Address of the car’s last location
  • Vehicle make and model
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Color and condition of your car
  • Extra details, such as your car’s stickers and decals

You must file a police report as soon as possible if anyone uses your car in a crime spree. A police report also helps if someone uses your vehicle for a crime, like burglary.

2. File an insurance claim

Insurance companies expect a police report for a stolen car report, so file the police report first. Then file an insurance claim with your carrier following their website or app instructions. Have the below ready:

  • Description of your car, including any upgrades or after-market parts
  • Information on mileage and service records,
  • Certification of Title
  • The last known location of your vehicle
  • Contact information for your lender or financer, if applicable
  • All of the property stolen with the vehicle
  • Locations of the vehicle’s keys and names/addresses of anyone with access

3. Get a rental car, if necessary

If you need transportation, you can rent a car; however, your insurance company won’t reimburse you for the costs unless you have rental car reimbursement coverage. This coverage typically features daily limits, such as $40 daily for 30 days. 

How much are stolen car payouts?

Stolen car payouts aren’t a definite number. Instead, car insurance companies calculate the payout amount using the ACV plus your deductibles. The ACV relies on your car’s value after depreciation. 

If you still owe on your car, gap coverage is a great way to help make up the difference between the car’s value and what you owe. If police recover your car, your insurance company will only pay for the necessary repairs. 


How does car insurance work with theft?

Car insurance works with theft only if you have comprehensive coverage which covers non-collision incidents with your vehicle. If someone steals your car, your comprehensive coverage covers it; however, it won’t cover personal belongings unless stated explicitly in the policy. The rate you pay for comprehensive insurance depends on your insurance risk factors, such as driving history, age, location, make and model of your car, and the coverage amount.

Can I claim items stolen from my car?

No. You can’t claim items stolen from your car on your auto insurance. However, you may claim missing items on a home or renters policy if you have homeowners or renters insurance.

How does an insurance company determine the value of a stolen car?

The insurance company considers the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV), or the amount it costs to replace it, including depreciation and condition. After subtracting your deductible, they arrive at the value they’ll pay for your stolen car. 

What happens when a stolen car is recovered before settlement?

If police recover a stolen car before insurance pays resettlement, contacting the insurer is essential. The insurer will assess the vehicle and see if there’s any damage. They can calculate the damage they need to pay for vehicle repairs, including your deductible and the car’s actual cash value.  

How do car theft insurance claims work?

The insurance claim process involves verifying the police report to see if you reported your stolen car. Then, it will assess how much your car is worth according to market value. This amount is the actual cash value (ACV). They then cut you a check for a new vehicle after you pay your deductible.

Does car insurance cover theft if I leave the engine on?

Yes, but only if you have comprehensive car insurance coverage. Comprehensive car insurance applies for car theft even if the car is running. 

Does insurance cover catalytic converter theft?

Yes. Your catalytic converter theft is covered by insurance if you have comprehensive coverage.

Does insurance cover my stolen car if I leave the keys inside?

Yes. Your insurance company covers a stolen car after you leave the keys inside if it is a legitimate theft. They’ll deny your claim if they believe it’s a fraudulent claim.

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