Are my personal items covered by car insurance?

Written by Ryan Lowell on January 27, 2012 & Posted in Insurance

An auto insurance expert fields a question from a consumer who wants to know if the personal items stolen out of her vehicle will be covered by her car insurance policy.

Find out which stolen items are covered by comprehensive coverage.

My car was broken into in my driveway. Luckily, the car wasn't stolen, but several of my personal belongings were taken, including my iPod, some CDs, a GPS, a personal DVD player and a laptop bag. Will my comprehensive coverage pay me for these stolen personal items?

Jill M., Tucson, Ariz.

Jill,

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Your auto insurance policy normally will not cover personal items lying around the interior of your car, or even in a hidden place like the trunk.

You're correct that the comprehensive portion of your car insurance policy is what covers you for theft (minus your deductible), but there are limits on which stolen items it actually covers.

Your comprehensive coverage will cover any damage to your car resulting from the thief breaking into it. So, if your door is scratched up or a window is broken out, your comprehensive coverage will pay for these physical damages. Also, if the culprit attempts to steal the car and damages the steering column or any other interior car parts, your car insurance will cover needed repairs.

Items that aren't attached to your car, though, aren't covered by comprehensive coverage or any other part of your car insurance policy.

So, comprehensive insurance coverage does not cover the GPS, iPod, CDs, portable DVD player and other personal items loose in your vehicle. However, things like your GPS unit or DVD player would have been covered had they been permanent fixtures in your car built in by your car's manufacturer (before being ripped out by the thief).

This is why it's so important to try and take all of your personal items out of your vehicle when it is parked. If they are left in plain sight, it makes your car more of a target for a break-in. If that happens, you're left without these items being covered by your auto insurance policy.

Your homeowners or renters insurance policy may offer some coverage for your stolen personal items. Look over your personal property section of your home insurance policy to see what coverage -- and exclusions and limitations -- it has for personal items that are stolen from your car.

If you do make a claim through your home policy, expect to be asked to show an inventory list of what was stolen and receipts for these items.

Remember that if your homeowner's policy covers your stolen personal belongings, there will be a deductible due. Also, the claim may affect your future homeowners insurance rates. So, if you can replace your items at a cost less than or even just a bit more than your home deductible amount, it is wise to do so instead of making a claim.

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