What to do with your insurance if your car's stolen

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Reporting stolen cars
Insurance claims
Personal possessions
Tax refund
Risk of theft
Avoiding car theft

If your car gets stolen your insurance might be able to cover the cost.

But it depends on the type of policy you have and the circumstances your car was stolen.

Here's everything you need to know about stolen cars and your insurance.

Contact the police and your insurer as soon as possible if your car is stolen

You need to report your car as stolen to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible so that they can investigate.

Contacting the police

You have to contact the police using the non-emergency 101 number before you tell your insurance company.

This is because the police need to log the incident in the Police National Computer (PNC) and give you a crime reference number that you'll need for making an insurance claim.

The police may ask for the following details to help investigate your stolen car:

  • Make and model
  • Car colour
  • Registration number
  • Location of the car before it was stolen

Telling your insurer

You'll also need to let your insurer know that your car has been stolen once you have your crime reference number.

Having the following details about your insurance ready can help speed up the claims process:

  • Crime reference number
  • Your name and address
  • Your car policy number
  • Make and model of the car
  • Details about the theft

It's important to give accurate details about the stolen car.

Knowingly giving false information about the stolen car could mean your insurer invalidates your policy. That means they won't pay out for your claim, and you'll have to tell other insurance companies about it in future 🚫

How to report a stolen car 🚨
Step 1: Contact the police Step 2: Get a crime reference number Step 3: Make an insurance claim

Not all insurance policies cover stolen cars

Whether your insurer covers stolen vehicles will depend on the type of car insurance policy you have.

Usually, you'll only be covered for theft if you have a fully comprehensive policy or third-party, fire and theft insurance.

Third-party insurance alone won't cover you if your car is stolen because it only insures against injury or damage that you cause to other people's cars.

Insurance claims for stolen cars

The claims process for stolen cars varies depending on whether your car is found or not.

Claims for cars that are found

You'll need to tell your insurer straight away if your car's been found.

They'll need to know whether the car has been damaged, used to commit a crime or is unsafe to drive.

The police will arrange for your car to be recovered and you may have to pay a fee of around £150, which can usually be claimed back from your insurance.

After your car is recovered the PNC database will be updated to show that your car was stolen and found.

Your car will also be logged on the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud and Theft Register (MIAFTR) which holds records of all the cars in the UK that have been written-off or stolen.

Insurance companies might look at this when calculating how much you should pay for a car policy in the future.

Claims tend to be settled quickly if your car is found within 7-14 days and there's little damage to your vehicle.

If your car is stolen, you should report is right away
If your car is stolen, you should report is right away

Claims for cars that are not found or extremely damaged

Your car could be written-off by your insurer if it isn't found within 30 days or it's found with serious damage that isn't worth repairing.

There are 4 different types of write-offs:

For each one, you'll be offered the market value of your car at the time it was stolen.

Usually, insurers minus an insurance excess from the final payout as well. (The excess is a sum of money you have to pay when you make an insurance claim.)

For vehicles in categories B, S and N, you'll also have the option to buy back some or all of the car from your insurer.

Your car will also be registered on the MIAFTR which could affect how much insurers charge you for a car policy in the future.

Claims for stolen cars won't stay on your record forever

All car insurance claims are added to the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE), which is a big record of every single car claim made in the UK.

When you get a car insurance quote your insurer will also ask lots of questions about your driving history, including any accidents you've had and the claims you've made.

They'll use this information, along with other details, to work out the price of your policy.

Technically claims never disappear from your record but insurers usually only ask for claims made within the last 5 years.

This means that claims and accidents from more than 5 years ago won't affect the cost of your policy.

It can vary though, and some insurance companies ask for your claims history for up to the last 10 years.

You need to be honest about your claims history as your insurers can check the CUE and might cancel your policy if you've lied 😕

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Some insurers cover the cost of items in your stolen car

You may be able to claim for the cost of possessions left in your car when it was stolen if you have a fully comprehensive policy.

The amount you can claim varies between insurers and could be anything from £100 to £1,000.

Insurers may exclude items such as:

  • Cash
  • Credit or debit cards
  • Jewellery
  • Tools
  • Stock for business purposes

Your insurer might also refuse to pay out if your items were left in view or there were no signs of a break-in to your car.

Third-party, fire and theft policies and third-party only policies don't usually cover possessions so you might not be able to claim for them.

Check your policy document to find out exactly what you're covered for. If anything's unclear, have a word with your insurer to check.

If your car insurer doesn't cover stolen items, you may be able to claim for personal possessions if you have a home insurance policy.

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Most insurers won't pay out for claims if keys were left in the car

Your car insurer may reject your car insurance claim in the following scenarios:

Keys in the car

Insurers don't usually cover car theft if your keys, lock transmitter or keyless fob are left inside or near the car.

Leaving your car unlocked

Some insurers won't pay out if you leave your doors, windows, or roof unlocked or open.

Leaving your engine running

Your insurance claim could be rejected if you leave your car unattended while the engine is running.

You can get a vehicle tax refund if your car is stolen

The DVLA will cancel your car tax once you let them know that your vehicle is stolen.

You'll automatically get a refund cheque for any full months left on your car tax.

Refund cheques are sent to the name and address on the car's log book).

If your car had a personalised registration number that you want to keep, you'll have to apply for a tax refund yourself.

The DVLA won't refund you for the following charges:

  • Credit card fees
  • The 5% surcharge on some Direct Debit payments
  • The 10% surcharge on a single six-month payment

The risk of your car getting stolen can affect your price

The likelihood of someone stealing your car is one of the things insurance companies take into account when they're figuring out your price.

That's one of the reasons your postcode can have a big impact on how much you pay for car insurance.

Insurers look at how many cars get stolen in your postcode, and they'll usually charge you a bit more if there's a lot of thefts in that area.

It's also one of the reasons insurers ask where you keep your car. If it's kept in a garage overnight, it's less likely to get stolen (or damaged) than if you have it parked out on a road.

So moving to a place with a garage can make your insurance cheaper - even if the overall number of stolen cars is higher.

Lower risks can mean lower prices 🏠
Insurance companies use the number of car thefts in your postcode, as well as information about where you keep the car, to help figure out your price.

Protecting your car from theft

Always double-check that your car is locked before walking away from it.

This is especially important for electronic keys, as thieves can use special technology to jam the signal from your fob to your car to stop it from locking.

Keep your keys in a safe place where they can't be accessed easily.

It's also worth buying a security pouch if you have an electronic car key to stop anyone scanning your keys and cloning them to get access to your car. They usually cost around £5-£15.

Parking in a safe space such as a locked garage or a well-lit area can help avoid your car being stolen.

Avoiding cosmetic or performance car modifications can help make your car less attractive to thieves (and could make your insurance policy cheaper too!)

Installing security upgrades such as car alarms, dash cams and locking wheels can also help reduce the risk of your car being stolen.

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Updated on 3rd April 2023