When your car is stolen and recovered, your insurance company will need to inspect the car to determine what sort of damage, if any, the vehicle has. Your insurance may cover the damage, or pay the actual cash value of the vehicle if it is totaled, and any personal items you had in the car are still yours.
Car insurance never covers any personal items stolen from the vehicle, though, and the only way to have the vehicle damage covered is by using comprehensive insurance. Without comprehensive coverage, you won’t be able to recover anything financially from your insurer if your car is stolen.
What Happens When Your Stolen Car is Recovered?
If your car is recovered before the claim has been settled:
Your insurance company will want the vehicle inspected. If it is not damaged in any way, they won’t pay anything for your claim. Additionally, any towing fees or impound fines due for the vehicle are your responsibility. You will likely need to pick up your car yourself from an impound lot once the police recover it.
If your car is recovered after the claim has been settled:
After your insurance company pays out the actual cash value of your vehicle, and you accept the payment, your insurer legally owns your vehicle. Even if you wanted to keep your car, you have no legal claim to it once the settlement has been reached.
If your car is recovered but totaled:
Your comprehensive insurance will cover the totaled vehicle’s actual cash value, or how much it was worth before the damage occurred, minus any deductible you have. You may be able to keep the totaled car if you want, but your insurer will subtract the amount of money they would have made selling the car for salvage or scrap from the total payout.
If your car is recovered but damaged:
If your recovered vehicle is damaged but not totaled, your insurance company will need to inspect it and adjust your claim to cover only the repair costs, rather than the full cash value.
If your car is recovered but you never filed a claim:
If you do not have comprehensive insurance, or you neglected to file a claim for your stolen vehicle, there isn’t much you can do – whether your car is recovered or not. Comprehensive insurance is the only type of coverage that will cover a stolen vehicle, so if your car is stolen and you don’t have comprehensive, you won’t see any insurance payment in return.
To learn more, check out WalletHub’s guide to comprehensive insurance.
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