Dude, Where’s My Car and What Do I Do Now?

If your car is stolen or vandalized, you'll be looking for that insurance check to arrive as quickly as it can so that you can get back on the road. Receiving that check quickly requires navigating through the proper steps before and after filing the claim. The following tips will give you the information necessary to file your claim and assist your auto insurance company process it speedily.

Let the Police Know Right Away

Alert the police as soon as you become aware that your car has been stolen or damaged. Your auto insurance company will require that you file a police report before they will begin processing the claim.

A timely police report will also increase the chances that the police will be able to locate your stolen car before it gets too far away or is gutted for parts.

Snap a Few Pics

If your car has sustained damage at the hands of a vandal, take plenty of pictures and present them with your auto insurance claim. It's also helpful if you have relatively current pictures of your car to provide a little "Before and After" in case there's any doubt of when the damage occurred.

If your vehicle was stolen (or items were stolen from it), attempt to put together a list of any personal items to record what else has been lost besides the car. If the items stolen are not covered by your homeowner’s insurance, they may yet be replaced if you carry comprehensive coverage.

Let Your Insurance Company Know

With pictures in hand, contact your insurance company as soon as possible. You should be covered for theft or vandalism if you have comprehensive car insurance. Nevertheless, some items are essential in order to file your claim.

For a theft claim be ready to provide:

  • The title of the vehicle.
  • Number and location(s) of all vehicle keys prior to and following the theft.
  • Information on all people having access to the car and the keys.
  • A full vehicle description including modifications and recent service.
  • An inventory of all personal property that was stolen with the vehicle, and locate receipts if possible.
  • If the car is financed you need to provide contact information for the lender to your insurance agent.

For a vandalism claim be ready to provide:

  • A detailed description and pictures of the damage from every angle.
  • An inventory of all personal property that was stolen or damaged from the vehicle, and locate receipts if possible.
  • Contact information for the lender or lease company, if needed.

Details, Details, Details

Comprehensive car insurance frequently encompasses incidental costs associated with theft and vandalism claims. Such incidentals could include the cost of substitute transportation during the time that you are unable to use the insured vehicle. Be sure to consult with your insurance provider to verify what is covered in your policy.

Save duplicates of all receipts for those costs along with receipts for repairs and any additional associated expenses, and submit them to the insurance company together with your claim.

Enter the Claims Adjustor

A vandalism claim will require an inspection by a claims adjuster from the insurance company. This inspection may require you to head to a location owned by your insurance company or the adjuster might come to you. Comply with all instructions you receive from the claims representative when you call to report the incident, and take any further actions necessary to protect your car from additional damage, for example, covering broken windows to shield the car's interior from the weather.

If Dude Finds Your Car

If the stolen vehicle was recovered, inform the insurance company immediately. Also, notify the insurance company of any damages to the car associated with the theft so the insurer can determine the total they'll give in compensation for your claim.

Having to handle a situation involving a stolen or vandalized vehicle is not a pleasant experience. However, organization and copies of all paperwork and receipts with help lower the stress of the process and get you back into the driver’s seat quickly.