Is Personal Property In My Car Covered by Insurance?

June 19, 2013

In the unfortunate case of a vehicle theft, or a vehicle break in, drivers are often left wondering what, if any, coverage their auto insurance policy provides to cover personal property or items that thieves may have plucked right out of the interior or even the trunk of the vehicle. This question bears some looking into, as each kind of auto policy is different. Do the research required to find out how much, if any, of your personal property losses can be claimed.

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Theft Riders

Almost all auto insurance will not cover personal property that is stolen from a car. That's not really the aim of car insurance; it's meant to insure the vehicle, not the stuff inside. However, some theft insurance "riders" will pay out a portion of personal property loss in some cases.

It's In the Fine Print

Each auto theft insurance policy is different, and to really find out if any personal property loss is covered, read the contract carefully. Then call the insurer representative for an "interpretation" to see if the insurer will be willing to cover some of the cost of your lost items.

Permanent versus Temporary Items

Even if a theft insurance rider does provide for property loss coverage, it will generally be only for affixed items such as car stereos. A driver can often get coverage for these, or even for other affixed items that can be considered "parts" of the car (fancy seat covers or jewel encrusted steering wheels), but not for items like laptop computers, cell phones or clothes.

Home Owner's and Renter's Insurance

So where does a driver go to get compensated for personal property theft from his or her vehicle? Is there no avenue for getting this cost claimed? In many cases, submitting the claim to a homeowner's or renter's policy will yield payouts. This is because both of these insurance types are meant to cover personal property. That is, if home property was temporarily put in the car and then stolen (from a locked vehicle), it can often be treated as similar to items stolen from within the home. Check with homeowner and renter insurers to find out their responsibility according to a contract.

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These basic tips help to provide the average driver with a solution for handling the loss of their property, either in a car theft or ordinary break-in. Theft riders will frequently cover broken windows and other costs. For vehicles that have been actually stolen, and not just broken into, drivers will want to report the incident promptly to the insurer and the police to limit liability. They will also want to watch for any incidence of the vehicle turning up in an impound lot so as not to be responsible for high impound fees.