Does car insurance cover stolen items?

12 minute read Published on Jun 12, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Does car insurance cover stolen items?

Picture this: You start walking toward your car in the parking lot, only to discover that it’s been broken into and several of your personal belongings have been stolen. Are you covered by your car insurance policy? That’s the question we are answering today.

Comprehensive car insurance coverage

When it comes to car insurance, there is one main type of coverage that can protect you from theft, and that is comprehensive coverage. That said, this type of optional car insurance coverage may not safeguard you against all incidents of theft relating to your car. To help you better understand how comprehensive coverage works, we dive in below.

Comprehensive coverage and theft

Comprehensive coverage is the only type of auto insurance coverage in Canada that covers theft or vandalism of your vehicle. More specifically, comprehensive coverage will protect you if your car is stolen or damaged in the process of being broken into. Examples of damage that may be covered include a broken window, a damaged door lock, or stolen keys and other car parts. Generally speaking, however, this type of auto insurance does not cover the theft of personal property left in your car, unless it’s a permanent element of your vehicle.

For example, if you leave your smartphone behind in your car and a burglar smashes your car window and steals your phone, the car insurance company would not reimburse you for the lost phone, only the cost of repairing the broken window. However, if a thief broke into your car and stole a permanent fixture like a built-in stereo, your car insurance company may compensate you for the loss.

What comprehensive insurance covers

  • A missing or stolen car
  • Broken window from an attempted break-in
  • Slashed tires
  • A thief stealing your vehicle and then crashing it
  • A thief stealing a permanent component of your car, e.g. a built-in stereo or steering wheel
  • Catalytic converter theft
  • A broken windshield
  • Damage from hitting an animal or an animal hitting you
  • Stolen or damaged keys and fob
  • Fire damage
  • Damage from falling or flying objects e.g. tree branches
  • Damage from explosions
  • Damage from riots and civil disturbances
  • Damage from natural disasters and other weather-related events

What comprehensive coverage does not cover

  • Theft of personal belongings, e.g. laptop, smartphone, jewellery, cash
  • Damage to your car from a collision
  • Medical expenses from a collision
  • Damage to another driver’s car from a collision
  • Medical expenses for another person from a collision
  • Your car being stolen by a member of your household
  • Damage to your rental car from a collision

Please note that since comprehensive coverage is the only type of insurance coverage that can protect you from theft, it must be part of your policy if you want to be protected against it. If you do not add comprehensive coverage to your policy, you will be left to pay for the cost of any non-collision-related incidents, including theft and vandalism, on your own.

Further, what comprehensive insurance covers ultimately comes down to which perils you add to your policy. When you buy this type of coverage, you get to decide which perils are included, such as fire, theft, vandalism, falling objects, weather, and more. You can also choose all perils coverage to be protected against the broadest range of threats. If financial protection in the event of theft is important to you, make sure that you add theft as a peril to your comprehensive coverage.

To learn more about how car insurance companies work in Canada, how comprehensive coverage works, and how to add it to your auto insurance policy, contact BrokerLink.


Is comprehensive coverage compulsory?

Comprehensive coverage is typically not compulsory in Canada. Car insurance is a legal requirement, but comprehensive coverage is not one of the specific coverage requirements. Instead, third-party liability coverage, uninsured automobile coverage, accident benefits coverage, and direct compensation-property damage coverage are mandatory in most provinces. This means that most drivers have the option of whether to add comprehensive coverage to their policy or not. Many choose to do so due to the peace of mind it offers. Note that if you lease or finance your vehicle, the lender or financing company may require you to purchase a certain amount of comprehensive and collision coverage.

Choosing a comprehensive coverage limit and deductible

If you choose to add comprehensive coverage to your car insurance plan, you will need to select a coverage limit and a deductible. A coverage limit is the maximum amount of money your insurance company will give you in the event of a claim, and a deductible is the amount of money you are required to pay toward a loss before the insurance company steps in. When it comes to choosing a limit and deductible for comprehensive coverage, it is important to consider not only what you can afford but also how much your car would cost to replace in the event of a total loss.

A comprehensive coverage deductible works like this: if a thief breaks into your car and smashes your window, resulting in $2,000 worth of repairs, and your deductible is $500, you would have to pay $500 before your insurance company stepped in to pay the remaining $1,500. A comprehensive coverage limit works like this: if a thief stole your vehicle, resulting in a total loss, you could file a claim with your car insurance provider and they would help you replace your vehicle up to the limit. In most cases, the limit for comprehensive coverage is the actual cash value of your vehicle. Thus, if the actual cash value of your vehicle was $20,000 and your deductible was $500, you would likely receive a payout of $19,500 from your insurance company, which you could then put towards the purchase of a new vehicle.

Other types of auto insurance coverage that may help with a stolen car

Although comprehensive coverage is the main type of auto insurance that can protect you against your car being stolen, there are a few other coverage types that may come in handy as well:

Gap insurance

Gap insurance is for people whose vehicles are leased or financed. This type of coverage can pay for the difference between the actual cash value of your car and your outstanding loan balance, in the event of a total loss.

New car replacement coverage

New car replacement coverage is an auto insurance add-on that can pay to replace your brand-new car if it was totalled within only a few years of purchasing it. This type of coverage can waive depreciation to allow you to get back to the same position you were in immediately prior to the loss.

Rental car reimbursement coverage

Lastly, rental car reimbursement coverage may help you financially if your car is stolen. This type of optional coverage can compensate policyholders for the cost of renting a vehicle while the authorities search for their stolen vehicles.

What to do if your car is stolen

The process of reporting a car accident is much the same as reporting a stolen vehicle. Therefore, just as it’s important to know what to do if you are in a car accident, it’s equally important to know what to do if your car is stolen. Follow the three steps below in the event of a stolen vehicle:

Verify that your car has been stolen

The first step is to verify that your vehicle has in fact been stolen. For example, did you forget that you let a friend or neighbour borrow it? Is your spouse or another member of your household simply using it? Did you return to the wrong parking spot? Could it have been repossessed or towed for more information on insurance coverage for towing, contact BrokerLink. Carefully consider whether your car has actually been stolen before taking further action.

Contact the authorities

Once you know that your car has been stolen, it’s time to contact the authorities. Remember that if you don’t report a car accident or theft, there could be serious consequences. You are legally required to inform the police of certain types of accidents in Ontario. Even if it is not mandatory to report your incidence of theft, it is still a smart decision. For more information on having to report a car accident in Ontario, contact BrokerLink. Locate your local police department and call them so that they can kickstart the investigation process. When notifying the authorities, be prepared to provide some basic information about your vehicle and the circumstances surrounding the theft.--

They will ask for a detailed explanation of what your car looks like, including the make, model, year, colour, VIN, licence plate number, and more. They will also ask for details about the alleged theft, such as the date, time, and location. It is also a good idea to inform the police about any technology in the vehicle that could help them track it, such as a telematics or anti-theft device. In most cases, you should be able to contact the police and have this conversation over the phone. However, in some instances, they might ask you to come down to the station.

Notify your car insurance company

The third and final step is to notify your car insurance company. Calling your insurance company after a minor accident or incidence of theft is crucial. You will need to contact your insurance company if you want to file a claim. Your insurance agent can walk you through the process of filing a claim. Once filed, they will assign an insurance adjuster to your case to give a recommendation on the payout. When you contact your insurer, make sure you can provide as much information as possible. If you have a record of the police report you filed, provide that as well.

How to file an insurance claim for a stolen vehicle

The insurance claims process differs between insurance companies. However, generally speaking, you should expect to provide the following information to your car insurance company when filing a stolen vehicle claim:

  • Details about the incident: The date, time, and location of the vehicle theft.
  • Details about your vehicle: The make, model, year, colour, mileage, licence plate number, VIN, and any other distinguishing features, e.g. bumper sticker, scratch, spoiler, etc.
  • A copy of the police report.

Please note that many insurance companies have a minimum waiting period before your claim will be closed. This is especially common in the case of a stolen vehicle as the insurance company wants to give some time to see if the police can locate and recover your vehicle. Since insurance claims processes vary greatly, we recommend contacting an insurance broker or your insurance company directly to inquire about their claims process. Be sure to find out exactly what information you need to provide, how long the process will take from start to finish, how any agreed-upon payout will be paid, and what the minimum waiting period is for your claim, if applicable.

Car theft and auto insurance rates

If your car is stolen, one of the thoughts running through your head might be, “How will this impact my car insurance rates?” The reality is that theft can influence car insurance premiums just like accidents affect car insurance rates. In fact, any claim you file with your insurance company has the ability to increase your rates. The more claims you file, the more your premium is likely to go up. However, how much your rates are affected will be influenced by a few other factors.

Where you live and the type of car you drive will both determine how much your car insurance rates increase following a theft claim. For example, certain parts of the country, namely larger cities like Toronto or Ottawa, have higher rates of car theft. This is why policyholders who live in these areas tend to pay more for car insurance in the first place. Second, the type of vehicle you choose to drive can also affect your rates. Vehicles that are common targets among thieves may cost more money to insure.

Tips to avoid your car being stolen

Avoid the unfortunate reality of a stolen vehicle by following the tips below:

Lock your vehicle at all times

Never leave your vehicle unlocked. Instead, anytime you leave your vehicle, whether you’re parking it in your workplace parking lot or at home, lock all the doors. If you think you might forget to lock your vehicle, enable the “auto lock” system, which can lock the door after as little as one minute after you step out of the car.

Hide your spare key well

If you have a spare key for your car, make sure it is well hidden or kept in a safe place.

Do not leave your vehicle running

Never leave your vehicle running unless you are inside of it. Accidentally leaving your keys in the ignition or a key fob in a push button start vehicle is an easy way to have your vehicle stolen.

Park your car in the garage

If possible, park your vehicle in a secure covered garage at all times. If your home has a garage, park your car in the garage instead of the driveway overnight.

Roll up your windows when parked

Do not leave your windows rolled down or your sunroof open, unless you are in your car.

Park in brightly-lit areas

Park in safe, brightly-lit areas to deter theft. The higher the traffic on the street, the less likely your car is to be stolen.

Install an anti-theft device in your car

Installing an anti-theft or theft prevention device in your car may not only deter thieves but can make your vehicle more difficult to steal. Even better, you could qualify for a car insurance discount because of it.

Avoid leaving valuables in your car

Since comprehensive coverage does not cover personal belongings being stolen from your car, make sure to take all valuables with you. If you cannot take them with you, hide them where people can’t see them, such as in the truck, in the dash, under the seat, or inside a reusable bag.

Purchase comprehensive car insurance

Our last tip is to invest in comprehensive car insurance. With this type of coverage, if your car is stolen, the insurance company will help pay for the cost of replacing it. Without this type of coverage, you would be left to pay for the cost of a new car completely out of pocket.

Extra car insurance coverage

If you want additional protection that goes beyond comprehensive coverage, consider adding either of these two popular optional car insurance coverages to your policy:

Collision coverage

Collision coverage protects drivers who get into accidents with a car or a grounded object on the road. Specifically, it can help pay for the cost of repairing any damage to your vehicle that results from the collision. Learn more about common car accidents and how collision coverage can protect you against them by contacting BrokerLink.

Accident forgiveness coverage

One final type of optional car insurance coverage popular among drivers is accident forgiveness. Accident forgiveness is additional coverage that can be added to your car insurance policy as an endorsement, to protect your driving record and to help prevent your insurance premium from increasing if you have an at-fault accident claim. Note: coverage varies by province.

Get in touch with BrokerLink for more information on car insurance and theft protection

Start protecting your vehicle today with the right car insurance policy. Whether you are looking for car insurance in Toronto or in another Canadian city, a BrokerLink representative would be happy to help. Plus, if you want protection from theft, we can make sure that your policy features comprehensive coverage. This way, you will be covered in the event your car is stolen. A BrokerLink insurance advisor can help with other car insurance-related tasks, like walking you through how to file an insurance claim after a stolen car or explaining how no-fault insurance works. Get in touch today to learn more about car insurance and theft protection in Canada. The BrokerLink experts can be reached by phone, email, or in person at one of our 200+ locations across the country.


FAQs on car insurance and theft

Does car insurance cover theft of personal property?

No. Even if you add comprehensive coverage to your policy, it will only cover you in the event that your vehicle is stolen or it is broken into and a permanent component of your car is stolen, like the steering wheel. If personal belongings, such as your wallet, jewellery, laptop, or smartphone are stolen from your car, you will likely have to pay for the cost of replacing them out of pocket, unless they are covered by your home or tenants insurance policy.

What happens if my stolen car is recovered during the claims process?

If your vehicle is recovered after you have filed a claim with your car insurance provider, your insurance company will still reimburse you for the cost of any damages, less your deductible.

How much will an insurance company pay me if my car is stolen?

Insurance payouts vary between providers and will depend on many factors, like the circumstances of the theft, your insurance coverage, and the limits and deductibles you selected for your policy. Generally speaking, if your vehicle is stolen and your car insurance policy features comprehensive coverage, the insurance company will pay out the actual cash value of your car up to the coverage limit, less your policy deductible.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.