Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?

While many people associate auto insurance with accidents and collisions, it can also cover other tragedies, such as theft — if you have the right type of coverage.

Whether your car insurance covers theft can also depend on what was stolen: your car, car parts (such as your catalytic converter), and/or items in your car.

We’ll cover what kind of insurance you need to cover each of these items below.

Does car insurance cover a stolen car?

While vehicle thefts have been trending downward since 1991, there were still 873,080 auto thefts in 2020 — a 9.2% increase compared to 2019.

Generally, if someone steals your vehicle, comprehensive coverage will cover up to its actual cash value (ACV), or replacement cost of your car — minus your deductible. For example, if your car is worth $5,000 and your policy has a $500 deductible, you’ll get a maximum insurance settlement of $4,500 for a covered claim.

While this can come in handy if your car is valuable, it may not be worth it if your car isn’t worth much more than your deductible.

Comprehensive insurance at a glance

In general, when you think of car theft insurance, you should think of comprehensive insurance. Like the name implies, comprehensive insurance covers a variety of car-theft scenarios, including:

  • Stolen vehicle
  • Vehicle crashed while stolen
  • Stolen standard parts of your car, such as a catalytic converter
  • Stolen keys or fob
  • Damage to the car  that occurs during a break-in (such as broken door locks and windows)

Additionally, comprehensive coverage covers other damage not caused by a collision, such as destruction from falling tree limbs, fires, floods, animals, and more.

However, it won’t cover personal belongings stolen from your vehicle or the cost of a rental car (or alternate means of transportation). For these, you’ll need condo, renters, or homeowners insurance and rental reimbursement coverage , respectively.

If you only purchase the minimum car insurance coverage requirements in your state, you probably don’t have comprehensive coverage — it isn’t required by states (though if your car is leased or financed, your lender will likely require you to have it). This means if you want to protect your vehicle from theft, you may need to add comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance policy.

Is catalytic converter theft covered by insurance? 

These days, it feels like all anyone talks about on Nextdoor is stolen catalytic converters. And for good reason — catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed since the start of COVID-19, especially as the value of metal continues to rise. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), in December 2019, 578 catalytic converters were stolen. A year later, in December 2020, that number grew to 2,347.

Fortunately, comprehensive insurance can also cover stolen parts of your vehicle, such as catalytic converters and keys. Keep in mind that it usually only applies to factory-installed parts, though, so if your custom stereo system and new rims get stolen, you may be out of luck.

Also, if your deductible is higher than the cost of the stolen parts, it may not be worth filing a claim. For reference, it can cost around $950-$2,500 to repair a catalytic converter.

Does car insurance cover theft of personal items from your car? 

No, car insurance doesn’t cover stolen items from your car — it generally only covers components that are permanent features of the vehicle.

Fortunately, your condo, renters, or homeowners insurance may protect your personal property. If you’re on the road a lot and/or travel with valuables such as laptops, photo equipment, and other electronics, you may want to check your coverage for personal property on your home policy and increase it if necessary.

As always, keep in mind that your coverage won’t kick in until you hit your deductible. This means if your deductible is more than what your stolen items were worth, you won’t get any money.

How the Metromile app can help you recover your stolen car?

While comprehensive coverage can help you avoid getting stuck with a huge bill when something unexpected happens to your vehicle, like it getting stolen, having to replace your car — even if it’s mostly paid for — can still be a pain.

At Metromile, while we usually tout our ability to save drivers money (for good reason — on average, our customers save 47%* compared to what they were paying their previous auto insurance provider), another huge, understated benefit is that our technology can help you track and recover your vehicle if it’s ever stolen.

To power our pay-per-mile insurance model, we have each customer plug a small GPS system called the Pulse into their car’s diagnostics port. While it’s mostly used to collect data about each individual’s driving, customers have also used the technology to locate their stolen car and recover it with police assistance.

Bottom line

While there are many things you can do to minimize the chance of theft (e.g. not keeping valuables in your car, locking your doors, and keeping your car in a well-lit area), sometimes tragedy strikes anyway.

Comprehensive car insurance can give you peace of mind, knowing you’re protected if something happens to your vehicle. At Metromile, the rate you pay for comprehensive insurance coverage is based on your driving habits, which means you could pay less for the same reliable coverage you’d get from another provider. Get a free quote to see how much you could save today.

*Average annual car insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with Metromile in 2018.