Someone Broke Into My Car, Am I Covered?

Car break-ins are rampant across the country. Read more to find out how you can prepare yourself against it.
Thief breaking into car by smashing the window with a crowbar.

Car break-ins happen all the time. In fact, car burglary is one of the most common crimes in America. California alone reported over 243,000 car burglaries in 2018.

Are you covered by your insurance when someone breaks into your car and steals your stuff? The short answer is yes. But you may be surprised to learn that you shouldn’t file a claim with your auto insurer. At least not for the items stolen from your car. But more on that will come later in this article.

What Does My Auto Insurance Cover?

If someone breaks into your car, there’s probably going to be some damage. The thief might have broken one of your car’s windows. Or they may have taken a screwdriver to your lock to get inside.

You might also discover that crooks have made off with part of your car. Catalytic converters are expensive and a popular target for thieves. These situations and damages are all covered by your comprehensive auto insurance. You’re also covered if someone steals your car. Below is a partial list of what comprehensive insurance covers:

  • Broken locks
  • Interference with ignition
  • Theft of the car (the insurer will cover the value of your car)
  • Cosmetic damage (carpet, paint, locks)
  • Airbags
  • Broken or damaged windows
  • Damage or theft of stock/aftermarket equipment (GPS, stereo, radio, wheels, catalytic converter)
  • Damaged glove box

Homeowners and Renters Insurance Cover the Rest

While comprehensive covers damages to your car, it doesn’t pay to replace items stolen from inside it. Homeowners and renters insurance will.

Both homeowners and renters insurance will cover the items in your car. Below are a few covered examples:

  • Laptop computers
  • Cell phones
  • Tools
  • Video equipment for your car
  • Clothes, glasses, and jewelry
  • Bag, purse, or wallet
  • DVDs and CDs
  • Sports gear

This is only a partial list. Make sure to check with your insurance company if you’re unsure about a specific item.

Steps to Take After a Break-In

One of the worst parts about a car break-in is not knowing what to do once you’re a victim. Below are some of the most important steps you can take after a car burglary:

  • Call the police
  • Figure out exactly what you had in the car
  • Take pictures of your car (especially useful if there are damages)
  • Get in contact with your insurance company
  • Come up with proof that you own your belongings
  • Cancel credit/debit cards to avoid fraudulent purchases
  • Deactivate your phone
  • Turn in a complete police report

Tips on Avoiding a Break-In

It isn’t possible to completely protect your car from a break-in. However, there are several ways you can minimize risk. Some of these include:

  • Parking under streetlights when possible
  • Always locking your car and closing windows
  • Using an anti-theft system (alarms, steering wheel lock, etc.)
  • Being aware of suspicious figures who could be a risk.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car. At a minimum, they shouldn’t be visible.

Remember that the best way to prevent car break-ins is to practice common sense.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What happens to my rates if I file a claim?

A: Your rates most likely won’t rise because it’s not your fault. But it does depend on your claim history.

It doesn’t always make sense to file a claim. Sometimes, replacement costs are less than your deductible. In this case, it makes more sense to pay for the costs out of pocket.

Q: Someone broke into my friend’s car, but they also took my stuff, what happens?

A: You’re still covered by renters or homeowners insurance. Remember that your auto insurance doesn’t cover stolen items.

Q: My rental car got broken into, who covers my belongings?

A: Your homeowners or renters insurance protects the stuff in your car. Your homeowners policy will cover your belongings no matter where they are.

Q: What happens if someone steals my car?

A: Your comprehensive insurance will cover the theft of or any vandalism to your car. But your insurance carrier will only cover the market value of your car.

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