Why there’s more than auto theft at stake
It can happen anywhere: you leave your parked car, even for a few minutes, and return to find it gone. In Canada, a car is stolen on average every three minutes.
What’s more, Statistics Canada found that in 2005, the theft of belongings from inside cars ranked as the third most common type of property crime. Even with the best precautions, including more sophisticated security devices, the incidence of auto theft continues to top the list of crimes in this country.
Despite the high rate of car theft and break-ins, people don’t always realize that personal items inside a car are not covered by their automobile insurance.
Here’s why it’s important to have property insurance for belongings inside your car.
- Whether your car is stolen or someone breaks into it, it is very unlikely any personal belongings inside will ever be recovered.
- Personal possessions are almost always long gone, even if a stolen car is found.
- Under your automobile insurance policy, you’re covered for the loss of your car or damage to it, but not for any belongings inside it. Consider some of the things you could lose:
- Briefcase, laptop, suitcase, purse, wallet
- Portable GPS, iPod, CDs
- Expensive sports equipment, sunglasses, items of clothing
- Brand new items (birthday or holiday gifts, for example) that you’ve just purchased and left in your car while you run another errand.
- If you don’t have property insurance, you’ll have to cover the cost of replacing the things you left in your car. The need to protect your possessions with property insurance applies to everyone – homeowners, condo owners and tenants.
How it works
Whether you are a homeowner, condo owner, or tenant, personal items will generally be covered under your property insurance policy. Remember, your policy does have exclusions.
- Under your policy, personal property that is temporarily away from your home is usually insured for up to 10% of the amount of your personal property insurance or $1,500, whichever is greater. This applies anywhere in the world.
- For a car theft or break-in, you will usually have to make two claims:
- one under your automobile policy for your car’s loss or damage, and one under your property insurance policy for your belongings.
Tip: Although they stem from the same incident, this still counts as two claims – which means an extra claim on your insurance record. If the cost of your belongings is relatively small (less than your deductible, for example) you may decide it’s not worth having that additional claim.
- You will also have to pay two deductibles: one for your automobile policy and a separate one for your home insurance policy.
Tip: If you have home and automobile insurance with the same provider, you will probably only have to pay one of the deductibles – usually the higher of the two.
Here are some things you should know if your car was unlocked or you left the keys inside.
- Your automobile policy will insure the car and accessories, provided you are covered for those particular circumstances.
- Depending on provisions in your personal insurance policy, your belongings might not be covered.
- Some policies require proof – visible evidence – of forced entry into a locked vehicle in order for you to be covered for your loss.
For some simple steps you can take to help reduce the risk of car theft and break-in, see the tips outlined in What is the Number-One Crime in Canada?.