Article 11 of 13 in What to Know Before Filing a Car Insurance Claim
It is an unpleasant feeling walking out of your house or favorite restaurant and noticing that your car is missing from the spot where you last parked it. As unfortunate as the situation is, the shock should not stop you from acting immediately! Make a report of a stolen car with your local police right away! After contacting the police, you need to call your insurance carrier and alert them that your car has been stolen and that you need to file a claim to recover your loss. Make sure you have important information available- your license plate number, your vehicle identification number (VIN#) and the year make and model of your vehicle.
Insurance Coverage for a Stolen Car
Coverage for your stolen vehicle falls under your comprehensive coverage. If you are covered, your car insurance company will pay the value of your car minus any deductible. Most insurance carriers allow a certain number of days for the chance the car will be recovered before paying you for your stolen auto. Normally, you need not pay for insurance on a car that you no longer have -- but you have to consider the possibility that the police will recover the car in a few days. Do not remove the insurance from the vehicle until you have settled the stolen car claim with your carrier. The company financing the stolen car will probably expect to receive car payments until they are compensated by your insurance company. Therefore, continue to make your car payment on time as not to bruise your credit until the insurance company compensates you for your stolen vehicle. If there is a delay in settling the claim or the settlement results in overpayment of car payments or insurance premiums, you can expect refunds of the overpayment plus interest. Discuss the specifics of your situation with the bank and the insurance company.
During the time the car is missing, your comprehensive coverage will pay for a rental car for a limited time. Usually, once you and your insurance company come to an agreement on value of your stolen car and you accept their offer, you normally have anywhere from 24-48 hours to return your rental car.
Disputing Your Stolen Car Settlement Offer
If you feel the insurance carrier is offering you an amount that is less than what you consider fair, you should turn down the offer and continue to negotiate until you reach an agreement. Ultimately, if you cannot reach an agreement and you still feel the insurance value of your stolen car is still not fair, you might have to consider the possibility of litigation -- provided the car was worth enough. Usually open and honest negotiation can resolve a dispute over a stolen car settlement, but you can take the insurance company to small claims court -- or sue them, if enough money is at stake. Contact an attorney first and see if this is worth your time and money. Most attorneys will provide a free consultation, so click here to find a car insurance attorney in your area.
TIP:Your car insurance company is not obligated to keep you in a rental car during this dispute. Once they feel they have made a fair offer, the rental car will be cut off, so be prepared for this event.
Settling Your Stolen Car Claim
As with a totaled car, the insurance company will pay you the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle at the time of the theft. This is the cost of the vehicle minus any accident related diminished value or depreciation for wear and tear, age, high mileage and condition. Review your own car's value online at site's like Kelly Blue Book. This will give you an accurate value for what your vehicle is worth. Make sure you account for all your vehicle's features-navigation system, alloyed wheels, CD changer, MP3 player, etc---as all of this increases the value of the car. Personal items left in your stolen car, such as cell phone, a jacket, luggage, or the like, would not be covered under your auto insurance policy, and will not be part of your settlement offer.
TIP:The insurance company will start at the low end of your car's value. Advise the car insurance claims adjuster of the condition and any features the car may have had that may have been overlooked.
Bad Faith Claim Denial
Auto insurance companies will give stolen car claims a hard look before they agree to pay out and replace your car. On occasion, the insurance company will attempt to deny your stolen car claim by alleging that you, in an attempt to defraud the company, have misrepresented a fact associated with your claim. If this happens, you do not need to accept their denial. Your auto insurance company can only deny a claim if you have misrepresented a material fact, which is a fact that is crucial to either the circumstances of the case or the value of your car. If the insurance company denies your claim because they allege you fraudulently misrepresented a material fact, they must prove their allegations. Your insurance company must provide evidence that you made your stolen car claim fraudulently, so, should your claim be denied because your company alleges you lied about the facts, you need to press them for proof.
If your stolen car insurance claim is denied due to fraud, the insurance company may be acting in bad faith. Because the company does not want to pay the full value of a stolen car, it may try to deny your claim for a small and insignificant reason that, if challenged, would not hold up. If you feel that your claim has been wrongly denied in bad faith, contact an attorney immediately. A bad faith auto insurance attorney will evaluate your claim and the insurance company's reason for denial, and help you get the money that you are owed for your stolen car AND any additional damages you are owed as a result of the insurance company's bad faith behavior.Click here to get in touch with an attorney who can represent you in a bad faith claim if your stolen car claim is wrongly denied.
Wrapping Up Your Stolen Car Claim
Once you come to an agreement on your value of your car, you will be asked to sign over the title of the vehicle in lieu of a check for the stolen car claim. By signing a settlement agreement, your claim will be closed.
TIP:If you are insuring a new car after your vehicle has been stolen, you have an opportunity to save money by changing policies or insurance companies. Take the time to shop for the best policy for you and compare quotes before making a decision. Click here to visit the Free Advice Quote Center and get started today!.
Having your car stolen can be an inconvenience. Make sure you have all the information on your car in your wallet and available at your finger tips. This will make the stolen car claim move a lot smoother. If the stolen car is recovered, make sure you note any damage to your car and advise your insurance carrier of the damage as soon as possible.
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