How to Collect Car Insurance After Your Car Is Stolen
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If you have ever come back to an empty parking spot where your car used to be, then you know that pit- in- your- stomach feeling when you find out that you vehicle has been stolen. After calling the police, your next step is to file a stolen car insurance claim.
Filing a Stolen Car Insurance Claim
Filing a stolen car insurance claim has been simplified by most insurance carriers because companies allow you to contact them 24/7 by a toll free number. After taking a stolen car insurance claim over the phone, the insurance adjuster will begin the process of investigating your claim by asking some of the following questions:
- Where did you park the car last?
- Did you file a police report? - Note that a police report is REQUIRED in a stolen car insurance claim
- They will verify they year make and model
- You may get asked if there are any security devices on the car just as Lo-Jack or other locating devices.
Most carriers have a waiting period (anywhere from 7 days to 2 weeks) to see if the car will be recovered. If it is not recovered, then you will be paid the actual cash value of your stolen car under the comprehensive coverage of your insurance policy.
Payment from Your Stolen Car Insurance Claim
Your insurance policy should define Actual Cash Value (ACV) and explain how the company calculates your car's ACV during the claim process. Most polices state that the ACV of any vehicle is the market values minus depreciation, and if you are unfamiliar with that calculation than ask the adjuster to walk you through it. You need do some of your own research to double check the insurance company's ACV calculation! In order to check your stolen car's cash value is to consult many of the online sites such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds for pricing. Always use the most reputable resource in order to get the most accurate value.
Stolen car insurance claims adjusters will always start at the low end of their range, so don't take the first offer without making sure you are getting full value! Slowly negotiate down from your offer to come to an agreement. Once you have accepted a stolen insurance claim settlement you will be asked to sign ownership of the car over to the insurance company. After you accept an offer, you cannot demand more money, so make sure your settlement is fair!
Unhappy with the Stolen Car Insurance Claim Offer
If you are dissatisfied with the offer to settle your stolen car insurance claim, it is your right to dispute it. Prepare yourself for a dispute by gathering detailed evidence - like the blue book value, information from independent appraisers or other details - to back up your valuation or your estimate. It is possible that the insurance adjuster may have missed several features of your vehicle thus explaining the lower offer. Make sure that adjuster has not made an error on the model of your stolen car (say an "EX vs. "LS") which can also account for a lower offer. Point out any great perks of your perks of vehicle such as low mileage or an excellent condition, which will increase the valuation.
Stolen Car Claims and Bad Faith
All insurance companies will do their due diligence in investigating a stolen car claim. This can include:
- Pulling credit reports to look for any signs of financial trouble and any evidence that you may have committed fraud,
- Looking at your current employment status
- Talking to friends, family or roommates that may know something about the theft to corroborate (or disprove) your story,
- Speaking with witnesses to determine the last time the car was seen,
- Reviewing every statement you make to the police to make sure you are saying the same thing to them.
Sometimes the insurance company's stolen car investigation can go too far, and make a leap in judgment that results in an unfairly denied claim. For example, insurance companies may deny a stolen car claim after drawing the conclusion that a person who recently lost their job and is one month behind on their car payment could have had something to do with its disappearance. Such a leap to judgment and to a denial could be deemed an act of bad faith on the part of the insurance company.
An insurance company must review a stolen car insurance claim fairly and in good faith, and if they are denying the claim unreasonably then you may be able to file a bad faith lawsuit. If you feel like your claim has been wrongfully denied, reach out to a bad faith insurance attorney for assistance. Before contacting an attorney however, pull together everything you will need to help them:
- A copy of your insurance policy
- Copy of the denial letter
- Any and all correspondence on the claim-emails, letters, transcribed recorded statements, etc.
If you believe your insurance company is low balling you with its actual cash valuation of your vehicle or if you feel you have a bad faith denial, it is always in your best interests to review your claim with an insurance lawyer who can deal with the insurance company.