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Does Renters Insurance Cover Car Theft?
18 Nov 2022 • 7 min read
You wake up one morning to discover your car has been stolen from your apartment's garage. As if that wasn’t bad enough, you left a MacBook Pro, your favorite pair of shoes, and some Yoga equipment inside the vehicle when you parked it last night.
If you’ve never experienced the above scenario or something similar, you're lucky. You could be next, especially if you’re not careful.
The threat of car theft or car break-in is real. Leave your car unattended for a moment, and someone with a relay attack device might drive off with it. No wonder a vehicle gets stolen every 43.9 seconds in the U.S.
There are many good reasons to get renters insurance. To help yourself get back on your feet following a car theft or car break-in is one of them.
But figuring out what your renters insurance policy covers and doesn’t cover can get confusing, especially when dealing with car theft or a car break-in.
The good news? We’ll clarify that for you today. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Renters Insurance and Car Theft: What Does It Cover?
- What Renters Insurance Covers in the Event of a Car Theft or Theft From Your Car
- What Renters Insurance Doesn’t Cover In The Event of a Car Theft or Theft From Your Car
- How To Protect Yourself From Car Theft
- Get Renters Insurance To Protect Yourself From Car Theft
Renters Insurance and Car Theft: What Does It Cover?
Your renters insurance won’t cover any damages made to your car during a break-in and it won’t replace your stolen car. To replace your stolen vehicle or repair damages, you need comprehensive auto insurance.
However, renters insurance covers your lost personal items in the event of car theft or break-ins.
If you’re a renters insurance policyholder who happens to be a victim of car theft, you can file a claim with a renters insurance company to get reimbursement for personal items that were stolen.
So if a thief makes off with your Camry while you’re shopping at Target, you can’t use your renters insurance to cover the cost of your stolen vehicle — but you can still file a claim to replace personal items that were left inside.
Similarly, if vandals break into your car through the rear windshield and steal your golf bag and clubs from the backseat, you can file a claim with your renters insurance provider. Just note you’ll need car insurance to replace your broken rear windshield.
What Renters Insurance Covers in the Event of a Car Theft or Theft From Your Car
Here’s a more detailed look at what renters insurance covers when car theft occurs.
Damaged or Stolen Personal Property
Renters insurance policies typically come with personal property coverage, which covers the cost of replacing destroyed, damaged, or stolen items in a covered event such as car theft (or theft from a car), vandalism, and riots.
But there are nuances to consider.
First off, a renters insurance policy typically places coverage limits on certain categories of personal property. These limits generally apply to expensive items such as jewelry, collectibles, sports equipment, musical instruments, and electronic devices.
A coverage limit means you may not get the full amount for specific items because the renters insurance provider has placed a cap on how much they’ll pay for it. In other words, the maximum payout you get depends on the amount of coverage you have.
Let’s say your policy has a $1,500 sub-limit on jewelry and a $500 deductible. If you lose $2,000 worth of jewelry in a car break-in, you will have to pay the costs (in addition to the $500 deductible) above the limit to fully replace the stolen jewelry.
If you want extended coverage for personal items whose value exceeds your policy limit, you can buy scheduled personal property coverage or endorse additional coverage for these items.
Moreover, consider preparing a home inventory before signing up for renters insurance to avoid being caught off-guard. Create a special category for expensive items (worth over $1,000) while you’re at it.
The last thing to note is that how much you get paid depends on whether the insurance company covers actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cash value (RCV). With actual cash value, you get paid based on how much an item is worth today, which is much less considering depreciation.
With replacement cash value, you get paid the amount you originally bought it for in exchange for paying a deductible. In the long run, you get better value with RCV.
Personal Items Stolen From a Rental Car
Renters insurance covers personal belongings stolen out of a rental car. Remember, your renters insurance follows you everywhere.
If your personal items get stolen from locations outside your rented home, you can file a claim with your renters insurance to have them replaced.
Borrowed Items Stolen From Your Car
If you borrowed some items from a friend or family member and they get damaged or stolen in a car theft or car break-in, you can file a claim to have them replaced.
Under your renters insurance’s personal property coverage, any item in your possession — including stuff you borrowed — is considered your personal property. So if someone breaks your car window and makes off with your friend’s PlayStation 5, you can file a claim for reimbursement. While we work with you to get your stolen property replaced, we’ll also contact your friend or family member’s insurance on your behalf (if they have it) to work with them on the insurance claim.
You must pay your deductible, and we can only replace up to $1,000 worth of stolen property that belongs to other people, but insurance can still help ease your financial burden.
What Renters Insurance Doesn’t Cover In The Event of a Car Theft or Theft From Your Car
Knowing what your renters insurance policy doesn’t cover is good so you can make the necessary adjustments before a covered peril occurs.
Here are things your renters insurance policy won’t cover in scenarios involving car theft or theft from your car.
Car Damage in a Smash-and-Grab Incident
In a smash-and-grab incident, you can’t use your renters insurance policy to pay for broken windows or any other car damages (you need comprehensive coverage for that). But remember: you can use it to replace the valuables taken from inside the vehicle.
Stolen Documents Like Driver’s Licenses or Credit Cards
Suppose someone steals your car and uses your credit card or driver’s license to make fraudulent transactions — what now?
Renters insurance covers theft of most of your belongings following a car theft or a break-in, but not financial losses due to identity theft.
In other words, you can file a claim to cover the cost of replacing your stolen documents, but not the financial losses you incurred after someone uses your identity to buy something from Etsy.
How To Protect Yourself From Car Theft
As the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Here are steps to protect yourself from car theft and car break-ins.
Park in a Well-Lit Area
Parking your vehicle in a well-lit area will make thieves think twice about targeting a parked vehicle. After all, an onlooker might spot them and notify neighbors or file a police report.
Keep Your Car Doors Locked and Windows Rolled Up
Car theft and car break-ins are often crimes of opportunity. You can prevent yourself from becoming an easy target simply by remembering to keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up.
Don’t Leave Your Car Unattended While It’s Running
Some people have the habit of leaving their cars running with the keys inside while they go into a store or change a tire. Doing this is an open invitation to car thieves since it only takes a few seconds to run off with an unattended idling car.
Install Anti-Theft Devices
Give thieves a harder time by adding multiple layers of security in the form of anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks, car smart alarms, tire clamps, and faraday pouches.
The more anti-theft devices you install, the longer it takes for thieves to steal your car, and the more likely they’ll move on to an easier target.
Keep Your Valuables Out of Sight
The best way to prevent car break-ins is to keep your valuables with you. But if you can't, at least keep them out of sight.
With the right tool, a thief can smash into your windows and steal your belongings in a matter of seconds. Move your valuables to the trunk, the glove box, or under your seats.
That'll make your car a less tempting target.
Get Renters Insurance To Protect Yourself From Car Theft
As a renter, you’d do well to take certain precautions so you don’t fall victim to car theft or car break-ins. But if it does happen, renters insurance coverage can help cover your losses and get you back on track.
That said, remember to take the time to understand what your policy covers to get the most out of your renters insurance claims.
Want to give yourself the peace of mind you deserve for the price of a small meal per month? Get a Goodcover renters insurance quote today.
Note: This post is for informational purposes; insurance regulation and coverage specifics vary by location and person. Check your policy for exact coverage information.
For additional questions, reach out to us – we’re happy to help.
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