What Happens to a Stolen Car That's Recovered During the Claims Process?

What Happens to a Stolen Car That's Recovered During the Claims Process?

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What Happens to a Stolen Car That's Recovered During the Claims Process?

It happens to all of us at some point in our lives. We walk out of a restaurant, movie theater, or grocery store and the first thought that comes to us is, “I wonder where I parked my car.” Sometimes, the thought turns more ominous to “I know where I parked my car, but it is gone.”

In 2019, the FBI estimated thieves stole more than 720,000 vehicles in the United States. Unfortunately, victims of car theft had only a small percentage of their stolen vehicles returned.

Depending on the type of coverage you take out, your insurer can cover the true market value of your vehicle if a thief steals it. You submit documents that include the official police report and a form from a certified appraiser that verifies the true market value of your vehicle. After a couple of rounds negotiating a final value for your car, you sign one last document that compensates you for the stolen car.
The insurance claim process seems straightforward, but what if a stolen car is recovered during the claims process? Does your insurance company dismiss the claim or can you still move forward with receiving a settlement check that covers the value of a stolen vehicle?

Whether you file a car accident claim or an insurance claim for a stolen vehicle, working with an experienced attorney ensures your insurance company does not take advantage of your lack of legal knowledge. One of the skilled litigators at Morgan & Morgan reviews your car insurance policy to determine how your insurer should settle a claim for a stolen vehicle. Legal support also helps you move forward with a claim even if you recover your stolen car.

Schedule a free case evaluation to determine how to proceed if you recover your vehicle during the insurance claim process.

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  • What Is the Car Insurance Claim Process?

    Before you learn how to process an insurance claim for a stolen car, you should learn about the basics of the auto insurance claim process.

    Contact Your Insurance Company

    When you contact your insurance company, you can expect to submit plenty of information to process your request for compensation. Supply your name and contact information that should include an active email address. Provide the date and time of the incident that is the focal point of your insurance claim. Submit your policy number, as well as the names and badge numbers of any law enforcement officers that responded to the incident. For a stolen vehicle and many car accidents, at least one law enforcement agency responds to conduct an investigation.
    If you have a police report, send a copy of it to your insurance company.

    Ask Questions

    Some of the questions to ask your car insurance company are more about confirming elements of the policy, such as the value of your annual deductible. You want to make sure you and your car insurance company are on the same page when the time comes to calculate a value for your claim. Determine whether your policy covers alternative transportation expenses like a rental car or fares for public transportation. One of the most important questions to ask involves how long do you have to file a car insurance claim. The deadlines imposed for filing an auto insurance claim vary among insurance companies.

    If you fail to submit a car insurance claim before the deadline, expect your insurer to dismiss your claim.

    Get Your Vehicle Appraised

    If you were involved in an auto collision, take your car to a certified appraiser to calculate the value of the damages, as well as the value of your car before repairs. For a stolen vehicle, a certified appraiser calculates a value by factoring in vehicle age and condition, as well as amenities such as sound system and safety features. Your insurance company conducts an appraisal as well and after learning what your insurer considers fair market value, you start to negotiate a settlement of your claim.

    The negotiation stage of the car insurance claim process is when you should work with an experienced car insurance lawyer who specializes in resolving car insurance disputes.

  • What Should I Do if Someone Stole My Car?

    As with a car accident, how you handle yourself after realizing that someone stole your car determines the outcome of an auto insurance claim. Dealing with a stolen car incident can be overwhelming, especially if law enforcement does not have any leads to track down your car. You need to maintain your composure before reporting your vehicle stolen to the police and auto insurance company.

    The first item on your to-do list involves contacting the nearest law enforcement agency.

    How to Report Your Car Stolen to a Law Enforcement Agency

    Contact police to complete a stolen vehicle report. Auto insurance companies do not review claims until they receive the formal police report regarding a stolen vehicle incident. If your vehicle has a GPS tracking device installed, let the police know as soon as they arrive at the scene where you last parked your car.

    A detailed description of your car should include the make, model, and year. Listing any distinct features, such as a description of the tires, can narrow down the number of motor vehicles that match your car. Submit the license plate number and the vehicle identification number (VIN).

    After submitting the information required by law enforcement, the agency responding to your call begins a search for your vehicle. The key is to find your car before it goes through a transformation of its physical appearance.

    How to Report Your Stolen Vehicle to the Car Insurance Company

    If you took out a comprehensive auto insurance policy, you should receive coverage for a stolen car. Even if you did not take out a comprehensive car insurance policy, you should still report the stolen car to your insurer.

    Submit a copy of the title for the vehicle, as well as the list of items that were stored in the car at the time of the theft. Everything stored in your car qualifies for coverage if you purchased a comprehensive auto insurance policy. Write down a detailed description of your car, including any standout features that enhance its value. Your insurance company wants to know the last known location of your vehicle, as well as any anti-theft devices you had installed at the time of the stolen car incident.

    Before you send the information your car insurance company needs to conduct a thorough investigation, verify whether your policy includes a rental car provision to help you get around until either your car shows up or law enforcement has closed the case.

  • What if My Stolen Car Is Recovered During the Claims Process?

    Although the FBI reports just a small percentage of stolen cars are returned to their owners, there is a slight chance you might get your vehicle back during the claims process or after your insurer has closed your car insurance claim. If you have already received compensation for an auto insurance claim, your insurance company assumes ownership of the returned stolen car.

    If you recovered your stolen vehicle while a claim remains open, your insurance company stops the claims process until your vehicle receives a thorough inspection. Your auto insurance company pays for any damages as defined by your policy. If your car is a total loss, your insurance company pays the actual cash value just like it does to cover the value of a stolen vehicle.

    Whether you get your car back during a claim or after a claim is closed, you must report the news to your insurance company right away. Most insurance companies send a team to retrieve a stolen vehicle. An insurance adjuster appraises the value of the recovered vehicle to determine how much damage it sustained.

    After you meet the standards established by your car insurance company, you should receive a settlement check minus the value of your annual deductible.

  • How Do I Prevent the Theft of My Vehicle?

    Although it is too late to protect your car from theft, you can take steps to prevent future theft of your car.

    Installing a car alarm often acts as a deterrent, as thieves prefer the easiest way into a vehicle. Tinkering with a car alarm system to disable it can backfire with the sounding of the high-pitched alarm. A GPS tracking system also acts as a deterrent, as the last thing a thief wants is for a law enforcement agency to know where to look for the stolen car. Another effective strategy for preventing the theft of your vehicle involves keeping valuables locked away out of sight. Thieves typically steal cars that entice them with valuables, such as jewelry and electronic devices.

    Using a physically tough anti-theft device represents another type of deterrent, as does parking your car in a well-lit area at night and in a safe neighborhood no matter what time of day. Finally, close your windows and lock your vehicle electronically.

  • Should I Hire an Attorney to Help with an Auto Insurance Claim?

    Hiring a car insurance dispute attorney demonstrates to your insurance company that you are serious about the valuation of your claim. An experienced car insurance dispute lawyer asks you a series of questions to determine whether filing a claim for a stolen car is worth the effort. If your attorney decides that you have a persuasive claim, you receive the legal support you need to file a claim based on the facts of the case.

    Car insurance companies sometimes use unethical tactics on policyholders that do not hire an experienced car insurance dispute lawyer. If you have a valid claim, you might receive a low-ball offer that you determine is a fair value for your stolen vehicle. Some insurers bank on policyholders deciding not to pursue a claim because of the incredible amount of work required to gather and organize evidence.

    At Morgan & Morgan, our team of car insurance dispute attorneys helps you file a convincing claim long before the deadline established by your auto insurance company. We will discuss the theft of your car with a law enforcement investigator, as well as review the formal police report to learn more about the evidence that boosts the strength of your claim. Working with a car insurance dispute lawyer from Morgan & Morgan also ensures you retain the services of a highly-skilled claims negotiator.

    Schedule a free case evaluation today to recover the financial losses caused by the theft of your vehicle.

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