It happens – you leave your cell phone in your car just once and you wake up to a smashed window and no phone. Or you forget to cover the purchase you just made before heading into the mall for more shopping. What does insurance cover in the event of a break-in? The answer may surprise you.
What Is Covered If My Car is Broken Into?
Car insurance covers much more than the occasional fender bender. But in the case of a car break-in, theft of your personal items probably isn’t covered.
If your car is broken into, there are two areas of coverage that you’ll need to address: the car itself and the items inside. Most car insurance policies will only cover damage or vandalism that occurred during the break-in – like a broken window or ignition system, damaged locks, stolen factory-installed stereo, etc.
Coverage of possessions stolen from a car is a bit tricky. If your personal property is stolen out of a car – say, a gaming system, purse or wallet, or even a custom or aftermarket stereo system – the items will not be covered under most car insurance policies, but rather will need to be claimed using a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy’s home inventory.
Each car insurance policy is different, so keep in mind the general guidelines we’ve explained here may not be true for your specific policy. Always check with your insurance provider or policy when you have questions about your coverage.
Protect Yourself from Car Break-Ins
So far in 2020, there have been 5,488 thefts from automobiles in the D.C. metro area. This number is down from 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still important to protect yourself and your belongings. Here are a few tips.
Keep Things Closed and Locked
Smash and grab artists and thieves are opportunists – they want to take whatever is available and easy to get to. The first line of defense against car break-ins is to keep things locked up.
Check that all your doors are locked, and windows and sunroofs are closed. If you have an alarm or security system, be sure to engage these features as soon as you leave your vehicle, whether it’s parked at home, at work, or on the street.
Keep Valuables Out of Sight
While locking and closing all easy points of entry to your car is a great start, the sad reality is: thieves aren’t above breaking their way into a locked car if they can see valuables inside, even something as small as loose change.
As often as possible, remove anything of value from your car: smartphones, portable speakers, laptops, jewelry, money, shopping bags with merchandise. If you must keep certain valuables in the car for a short time (road trips, vacations, shopping trips) – conceal them in the trunk, or under your seats, out of sight.
Another less obvious way to protect your car and belongings inside is to park smart.
Choose well-lit areas that are free and open. This includes streets and parking lots that have lots of vehicle and foot traffic. Cars in the open and/or in well-lit areas are far less likely to be broken into.
No one can prevent every car break-in, but you can protect yourself and your car by following these tips and educating yourself about the benefits of your car, home, and renter’s insurance coverage.
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