Auto theft continues to increase across the country, with a recent report from the Canadian Finance and Leasing Association saying that a vehicle is stolen every six minutes in Canada. In Ontario, 61% of the vehicles stolen in 2022 were made in 2017 or newer. But anyone can be a victim of automobile theft, regardless of what they drive. If your vehicle is stolen, do you know what to do? Let us walk you through the basics of making a car theft claim.
Does your insurance cover a stolen car?
Depending on your policy, your auto insurance will provide coverage in the event your car is stolen. Basic auto insurance includes coverage for:
It is important to note that theft is not included. To receive that protection, you will need to opt into comprehensive, specified perils, or all perils coverage. These costs won’t be covered until 72 hours after the theft has been reported to the insurance company or the police. There will be a maximum payment unless you purchase the OPCF20 endorsement (Transportation Replacement Coverage for Collisions or Thefts). The limit will then be the amount purchased.
What to do if your car is stolen
If your car is stolen, there are a few key steps you should take. Tanisha Kishan, a RATESDOTCA expert and Chartered Insurance Professional, recommends the following:
1. Contact your local police and file a police report
You will need to file a police report before you can move forward with filing a claim. Do not call 911; instead, call your local police station. Be prepared when you call and have the following information on hand:
- The make, model, year, and colour of the vehicle.
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
- The licence plate number.
- The last location of the vehicle.
- A list of valuables that were in the vehicle at the time.
- Any specific or unique details about the vehicle – decals or after-market additions.
Don’t forget to request a copy for yourself, as you’ll need to share it with your insurance company.
2. Contact your insurance broker or company to advise them of the theft, and verify if you have theft coverage
As soon as you get off the phone with the police, contact your insurance company or isure broker. Not only will this start your claims process, but it will also help protect you, should the thief damage property or injure others while driving your vehicle. In addition to the details given to the police, have your policy number handy.
Remember: Your car insurance policy must include specified perils, comprehensive, or all perils to be covered for theft. You can check your policy or talk with your isure broker if you’re unsure about what type of coverage you have.
3. Open a claim with your insurance provider
Most insurance companies will allow you to report a claim 24/7 to make the process easier. If you had any personal belongings or other valuables in the vehicle at the time of the theft, you will have to contact your home insurance or tenant insurance provider (if it’s different from your auto insurer). Why? Because these items are not covered by your car insurance policy.
How is the claim settled if you own/lease/or finance the vehicle?
- If your vehicle is a lease, the settlement in the claim will be sent to your lessor.
- If your vehicle is a lien, it will go to you, unless the agreement with your lien holder or financing company specifies differently.
- Should your car be worth more than you owe, then you’ll receive the remainder of the settlement.
Other things you should do if your vehicle is stolen
1. Notify your bank and change any important passwords
If any electronic devices or official documents are in the car, thieves can use these to commit identity theft.
2. Inform any financing or leasing companies associated with the vehicle
In addition to notifying the police and your insurance provider, you should also inform your lender. Unfortunately, if you finance your vehicle and it is stolen, you are still required to make regular payments on it. Once your claim is settled, your insurance company will provide you with a payout based on the ACV (Actual Cash Value) of your vehicle.
- The amount you receive can then go towards paying off the remaining balance of your car loan.
- In some cases, this amount might be less than what you owe on the car. This means you will have to pay the rest out of pocket.
- However, if you have Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP), your payout will cover the entire amount remaining on your loan instead of the ACV.
To learn more about how to prevent auto theft, please click here.
3. Check if you’re covered for a rental
The cost of a rental vehicle could be covered by your insurance policy, though some limitations may apply. A car rental might also be available through your car’s extended warranty, so remember to ask your insurance provider or your lender about your options.
In the event you rent a car that ends up being stolen in Ontario, your insurance company will pay reasonable expenses for the rental of a similar substitute vehicle.
How does a car theft claim affect insurance premiums?
Many people who have fallen victim to car theft ask themselves, “Since my car has been stolen, will my insurance go up?” Simply put, you shouldn’t expect to see a dramatic increase in your policy, if at all. Conversely, if your claims history has several instances of car theft on file, there is a good chance you can see your rates increase. Living in a neighbourhood with a high crime rate or purchasing a vehicle model that has high theft rates can also lead to increased premiums. It’s essential to communicate with your insurance company to understand how a theft claim, and these other factors might affect your premiums specifically.
Increases in car theft affect everyone
- Fixing or replacing stolen vehicles
- Increases in health care and treatment costs
- Investigative and judicial costs that link to detecting and penalizing fraudsters and thieves
If your car has been stolen or you want to submit a car theft claim, contact isure today. We strive to help our clients find the best auto insurance rates in Ontario, including Ottawa, Mississauga, and Toronto. Get a quote online or call us at 1-877-660-3501!