.When your car is stolen and then found, it can be stressful. After reporting the crime to the police, you’ll need to figure out what steps you need to take to get back your property and cover any potential insurance fees or fines arising from the theft. This guide will discuss what happens when your car is then found, including penalties, insurance coverage, and restitution.
Contrary to what you might think, this situation is actually quite common. Statista estimates that in 2020, 56.4% of abandoned vehicles will have been recovered!
If you are the owner/s whose vehicle was found, you should contact your insurance company to discuss the next steps, which will vary depending on where you are in the claims process.
What to do if your car is stolen – first steps
If your car is stolen, your first call should be to the police and your insurance company. Don’t forget to inform the auto loan company if you’re still paying for it.
What info to give the police
- Where you last saw your car, and when
- Your car’s make, model, year, and color
- Any distinguishing features of your car
- Your car’s license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Info about your GPS or tracking system, if you have one
What info to give your insurance company
Your insurance company may want the following information in addition to the details you provided to the police:
- A list and description of any valuables in your vehicle, such as a laptop or other electronic equipment, fitness equipment, textbooks, or tools.
- Copy of the police report
What happens once you report your car stolen
Procedures and penalties for car theft can differ from one state to the next. However, in most states, the SVS (Statewide Stolen Vehicle System) and the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) will update the vehicle’s details after filing a theft report.
Nearly all U.S. law enforcement agencies have access to the SVS and NCIC databases. The car’s registered owner must notify the insurance company and the lending institution (if there is a loan on the vehicle) of the theft.
How do the police recover your stolen car?
After a car is stolen, a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) alert is typically sent out to all local law authorities. Officers will attempt to pull over the car if they discover it being driven. Driving a stolen vehicle is a criminal offense in most places. The police can remove the occupants from the vehicle at gunpoint. Therefore, if you find your vehicle, you should contact the local law enforcement agency to report it and follow their instructions for retrieval.
What happens once the police recover your stolen car
The plate and VIN are entered into the SVS and NCIC. If a successful match is made, and an attempt is made to contact the vehicle’s registered owner or authorized contact. The police will then notify the vehicle’s owner to pick up the vehicle at a specified place.
Suppose the car’s owner or authorized contact cannot retrieve it (due to distance or unavailability, respectively). In that case, a tow truck will be dispatched to the area, and the vehicle will be detained. After that, the car will be reported as recovered in the SVS and NCIC. The registered owner is responsible for all costs associated with towing, impounding, and storing the vehicle.
What you need to check once your car is recovered
- What condition it is in: You must check if your car has been damaged or vandalized while it was stolen.
- Repair costs, if any: If the car was damaged while stolen, get it appraised and find out how much it will cost to fix it.
- Personal belongings: You must also check whether any personal belongings (wallet/phone) were still in the car when found.
- Liability: Check with the authorities about any potential liability issues, such as whether someone used the car in any crimes.
- Insurance coverage:Make sure that your auto insurance covers the costs of the theft and any damage to the car.
What happens if your stolen car is found after the insurance payout?
If your insurance company paid for your stolen car, and it is then found, the company now owns it and can sell it if it’s in good condition.
But most insurance companies won’t change the car’s title to their name. This is to save money and avoid the hassle of transferring ownership of a car that might never be found.
If your stolen car is found, the police will contact you – the registered owner. They won’t contact the company since they didn’t claim it. If you don’t inform your insurance provider or try to put your car back on insurance, they might not know it’s been found.
What happens if my stolen car is recovered during the insurance claims process?
If your vehicle is recovered while filing an insurance claim, you must notify your insurance company immediately. Instead of filing a claim for a stolen vehicle, you can use your comprehensive policy to pay for repairs after the theft.
When your car sustains body damage, such as dents, your insurance will cover the cost of repairs after you pay your deductible. If your vehicle is totaled, the insurance company will provide you with the money equivalent to the car’s market value for a new car.
Who owns the items inside a recovered stolen car?
The items in your car are legally yours. This holds even if the automobile is recovered before. It is also true after your stolen vehicle claim is settled with your insurer. Because car insurance only covers the vehicle and not the belongings within it.
Depending on the policy, you may be able to file a claim under the personal property coverage of your renters or homeowners insurance. This will help pay for the cost of replacing stolen items. Talking to your insurance company about what is and isn’t covered if you have valuables stored in a location other than your home is crucial.
If someone steals your car, you must notify the police, your insurance company, and your lender immediately. Depending on where you are filing a claim, you could get your car back from the insurance company if they find it. Keep in touch with your insurance company throughout the claims process. Let them know if the vehicle is recovered at any point.
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