What to do if your car has been stolen

Vehicle theft happens all the time, so if you can’t see your car where you left it, don’t panic. If your car has been stolen, your insurance is there to help you out.

Here’ what to do if your car has been stolen.

Check if your car has been stolen

First things first, double-check that your car is really missing and not just misplaced or towed away. If you arrive back to your car to find it’s not there where you left it, don’t fret straight away.

Sometimes people park their car and forget where they have parked it. You might think that’s a joke, but it’s true. What if your car really has been stolen?

If you want to check if a car has been stolen, you can use a free online service like Stolen Car Check or Car Analytics. These services will use the Police National Database and other sources to verify if any vehicle is stolen. You’ll just  need to provide the car’s registration number, make, model, and colour.

Alternatively, you can call the police on 101 and ask them to check if a car has been stolen. You will need to give them the same details as above.

Report your car as stolen

To report your car as stolen, you need to follow these steps:

Does your insurance cover car theft?

Generally, there are three main types of car insurance policies:

So, if you have a comprehensive or third-party, fire and theft policy, your car insurance will cover theft. However, you still need to check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully, as there may be some exclusions or limitations. For example, your insurer may not pay out if you left your keys in the ignition, or if you did not report the theft to the police or the DVLA, says the AA.

If your insurer agrees to settle your claim, they will pay you the market value of your car at the time of the theft, or provide you with a replacement car, depending on your policy, according to the AA. You may also have to pay an excess, which is the amount of money you have to contribute towards the claim.

What happens if your car is stolen on finance

According to Car Plus, if your car is stolen on finance, you will have to follow these steps:

  • Report the theft to the police and get a crime reference number.
  • Contact your insurance company and make a claim. They will pay you the market value of your car or provide a replacement car, depending on your policy.
  • Inform your finance company and use the insurance payout to pay off your remaining balance. You may need to provide a letter from your insurer confirming the theft and the payout.
  • Contact the DVLA and tell them that you have sold your car to the insurance company. You will need to send them the yellow section of your vehicle log book and a letter with the details of your insurance company and the date of the claim. If you had a personalised registration number, you will need to get it back before you do this.

You will also need to continue making your finance payments until your claim is settled, unless you have GAP insurance, says Ocean Finance.

How to prevent your car from being stolen

There are many ways to prevent your car from being stolen, but here are some of the most effective ones, according to the RAC:

  • Always lock your doors and take your keys with you, even if you are just leaving your car for a few minutes. Don’t rely on your key fob alone, as thieves can use signal jammers or relay devices to unlock your car remotely.
  • Use anti-theft devices such as alarms, immobilisers, steering wheel locks, or tracking systems. These can deter thieves or help you recover your car if it is stolen.
  • Park your car in a well-lit, busy, and secure area. Avoid leaving your car in dark, isolated, or unattended places. If possible, use a car park that has CCTV, security patrols, or a Park Mark award.
  • Don’t display any valuables or belongings in your car, as these can attract thieves. Remove any items from your car or hide them in the glove box, boot, or under the seats. You can also open or remove the parcel shelf or load cover to show that there is nothing to steal.
  • Etch your vehicle identification number (VIN) onto your windows, windscreen, and other parts of your car. This can make it harder for thieves to sell your car or its parts, and easier for the police to identify your car if it is stolen, according to Safe Wise.
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