What Happens If Your Car Is Stolen With No Insurance


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Updated: May 20, 2024

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Comprehensive insurance is the only type of coverage that includes car theft. If your car is stolen and you're uninsured, financial compensation is only possible if the thief is caught and convicted.

If you're financing or leasing a car, you're typically required to have full coverage insurance. However, if your insurance coverage falls short, you'll be responsible for paying the difference. Whether you have the car or not, the obligation to repay the finance company remains.

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Key Takeaways

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If your car is stolen, report it immediately to the police, DMV and your insurer. Prompt reporting increases the chances of recovery, with statistics showing significant recovery rates within the first two days.

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Comprehensive insurance is the only policy that covers car theft. With it, you can claim the vehicle's value.

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For financed or leased cars, you're still responsible for payments, even if the insurance doesn't cover the full amount or if you're uninsured.

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How to Report a Stolen Car Without Insurance

After confirming that your car was stolen, make sure to report the theft to the police as soon as possible. Next, let the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) know. Though your insurer won’t cover a stolen car without comprehensive insurance, you should still let them know that your car was stolen in case the thief causes damage or an accident with your car. If the vehicle gets damaged while stolen, your liability insurance won’t cover the repairs.

1
Verify the car is actually stolen

Before assuming your car is stolen, double-check to make sure it's not a misunderstanding. Consider if you might have parked in a different spot or if a friend or family member borrowed it without telling you.

2
Report to the police

If you confirm the car is stolen, immediately report it to the police. When reporting, provide them with the following details:

  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Make and model of the car
  • The color and any distinctive features
  • The last known location of your car
  • License plate number
  • Approximate time of theft

Obtain a copy of the police report for your records.

3
Notify the DMV

Report the theft to your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV maintains a database of stolen vehicles and works with the police to recover them.

4
Inform your insurer

Even though your insurance may not cover the theft, it’s still a good idea to inform your insurer about the stolen vehicle. This can be helpful in case the thief causes damage or gets into an accident with your car.

5
Be prepared for potential costs

If your car is recovered, you might have to pay impound and storage fees. Look into local resources that might assist with these expenses.

Reporting your stolen vehicle quickly to the police, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) significantly increases your chances of recovery.

According to the NICB, in 2022, law enforcement recovered over 85% of stolen vehicles, including full-size pickups. Actively reporting boosts recovery rates, with 34% of vehicles found on the theft day and 45% within two days.

How to Report a Stolen Financed Car Without Insurance

Financed or leased vehicles usually need full coverage insurance, including comprehensive theft coverage. If your car is stolen, insurance pays its current cash value. But, if this is less than your loan or lease balance and you lack GAP insurance, you must cover the shortfall.

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    You don’t have insurance

    If you lack the proper insurance coverage and your vehicle is stolen, you're still obligated to continue making payments to the finance company. Inadequate coverage can also result in penalties based on your finance or lease agreement. In any case of theft, it's important to report it immediately to the police, your insurance company and the finance or lease company; follow their guidance on the next steps. If your vehicle is later recovered, work with your insurance company regarding any damages and inform the finance company of the recovery.

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    Your full coverage insurance cannot cover the full amount

    In cases where full coverage insurance doesn't fully cover the amount owed on the car and you don't have GAP insurance, you would still be obligated to pay the remaining balance to the finance company. GAP insurance covers the gap between the insurance payout and the remaining loan or lease balance. Without it, you could be paying out of pocket for a car you no longer have.

What to Do if a Stolen Car Was Totaled

If your uninsured car gets stolen and is later found wrecked, quickly report it to the police and let the DMV know. You'll have to handle any money you still owe on the car. If you have a loan for the car, talk to the loan company about what you can do.

If the police catch and charge the person who stole your car, you might want to talk to a lawyer about getting money back for your car. If you're dealing with complicated issues, especially with the loan company, it's a good idea to get some legal advice.

Most Stolen Car Models

Pickup trucks, which are the most popular vehicles in the United States, also happen to be the most commonly stolen vehicles.

Car Model
Number of Thefts
Model Most Stolen
Starting Price

Chevrolet Full-Size Pickup (2004)

49,903

2004

$28,728

Ford Full-Size Pickup (2006)

48,175

2006

$28,433

Honda Civic (2000)

27,113

2000

$21,824

Honda Accord (1997)

27,089

1997

$25,036

Hyundai Sonata (2013)

21,707

2013

$23,172

Notably, some Hyundai and Kia models lack an engine immobilizer, a key anti-theft feature. This absence contributed to a surge in thefts of these models in 2021, as reported by Kelley Blue Book. Ensuring your vehicle is equipped with effective anti-theft technology, like engine immobilizers, can significantly deter theft.

How to Prevent Car Thefts

Securing your car with simple measures, like fully rolling up the windows and using visible locks on the steering wheel and brake pedal, can deter potential thieves.

1
Lock and alarm

Always lock your vehicle, activate the alarm and take all keys or fobs with you.

2
Store your registration safely

Instead of leaving these papers in your car, take a picture of your registration and store it on your cell phone. Personal papers left in the vehicle can be a treasure trove for identity thieves if your car is broken into.

3
Stow away your valuables

Remove valuables from the vehicle or lock them out of sight. Leaving items like electronics, purses or other valuables visible can attract thieves. Even if you have comprehensive insurance that covers the theft of your car, these policies typically do not cover personal property stolen from inside the vehicle.

4
Roll up your windows

Roll up windows completely when the vehicle is unattended.

5
Never leave your car unattended

Always lock your car and keep the keys with you. Although warming up your car for comfort, known as "puffing," can be tempting in extreme temperatures, it unfortunately also makes your vehicle an easy target for theft.

6
Visible deterrents

Steering wheel or brake pedal locks act as a clear sign that the vehicle is protected, making it less likely to be targeted by criminals looking for an easy steal.

7
Anti-theft devices

Equip your vehicle with devices that disable the fuel system or ignition, like electronic immobilizers, kill switches or smart keys. Consider adding GPS trackers and audible alarms as well. Insurers often provide premium discounts for cars fitted with these anti-theft measures, acknowledging their effectiveness in deterring theft.

What Car Insurance Coverage Covers Stolen Cars?

Liability-only policies do not cover vehicle theft. Comprehensive insurance is the only type of insurance coverage that will protect you in case your car is stolen. Without it, your insurer won't cover the loss.

If your car is stolen and you have comprehensive insurance, report the theft immediately to the police. When reporting to your insurer, provide necessary details like the police report number and the car's last known location. The insurer will evaluate the claim, potentially waiting to see if the car is recovered.

Your payout typically reflects the car's actual cash value minus your deductible, based on factors like age and condition. After verification, which may require additional documents and car keys, the insurer issues the payment to you or your lienholder if the car is financed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the aftermath of car theft can be overwhelming. Here are some frequently asked questions to help guide you through this challenging situation, from immediate actions to insurance coverage specifics.

What do I do if my car is stolen with no insurance?
Does car insurance cover car theft?
What kind of car insurance covers personal property in a car theft?
How soon should I report car theft?
If I buy comprehensive coverage, will it cover my stolen car?

About Mark Fitzpatrick


Mark Fitzpatrick headshot

Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.


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