Car theft is an ongoing issue in Ontario and there’s no easier way to steal a car than when its doors are left unlocked. In Ontario, a car is stolen every 48 minutes, and in 2021 alone there were nearly 11,000 car thefts reported to insurers. Commonly, vehicles are stolen to strip down for parts and resell, or they are used to commit other crimes and erase any tracks left behind.
There are endless common misconceptions about auto insurance, what it covers, and what it doesn’t. A common myth is that auto insurance won’t cover you if your doors are left unlocked. That isn’t true! In fact, if you have comprehensive coverage, your auto insurance may still cover you. Read on for some further detail regarding comprehensive auto insurance coverage, tips to reduce your risk of car theft, and possible exclusions to coverage if your vehicle is stolen or broken into due to its doors being left unlocked.
Are You Covered for Theft if Your Car Was Unlocked?
In most cases, the answer is yes – you will be covered. If the car was parked safely and the theft was legitimate, your comprehensive coverage will cover theft. However, some insurers will contain a clause in their policies that deny claims if the car was left unlocked. This may be referred to as a “locked vehicle warranty,” and while it’s most popular with commercial vehicles, it can apply to your personal automobile as well. In addition, if you have a trend of leaving your doors unlocked and/or there’s a pattern of theft and vandalism, your insurance provider may suspect fraud and deny your claim.
The best solution? Lock your doors. Even if your insurance does cover you, it’s a hassle to have to pay the deductible and go through the process of recouping your vehicle and repairing it. Your insurance rates may even rise after an instance of theft. Do your due diligence as a car owner and take every necessary step to ensure your car is protected.
Tips for Preventing Car Theft
No one likes to think about their car potentially being stolen. However, not enough vehicle owners are doing their due diligence to prevent vehicle theft, as the majority of car thefts and/or break-ins typically involve cars with unlocked doors. Cars that are secure and locked are often deterrents to thieves. Even if your comprehensive coverage insures you for vehicle theft (even with your doors left unlocked) having to make a claim – and having your vehicle stolen – whether covered or not are still things you will probably want to avoid. Here are some tips for preventing car theft:
- Never leave your keys in your ignition. If you have a keyless ignition fob, avoid leaving your keys hung up too close to your door. Some car thieves can still unlock your car if the fob is close enough and/or capture the fob signal with a wireless transmitter.
- Do not leave valuables – i.e, wallets, money, electronics – out in the open in your vehicle. These can be a temptation for potential thieves. Store these items where they cannot be seen or avoid leaving them in your car altogether.
- Park in public places that are well-lit. Thieves often choose cars that are stowed away where they won’t be seen committing theft.
- Install car alarms, wheel locks, brake locks, etc. These act as visual deterrents to thieves and may also reward you with a significant premium discount.
- Don’t leave your car running unattended. Even if it’s just for a few minutes to pop into a shop, it isn’t worth it, especially as most vehicle thefts are with cars that are left unlocked with their engines still running.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, theft and/or break-ins do occur. Theft is generally covered by your comprehensive coverage, with some exceptions, but you will likely have to pay a deductible and your insurance rates are likely to increase afterwards.
Contents Within Your Car
Unfortunately, whether your car was locked or not, your auto insurance policy will likely not include coverage for any belongings that were stored within your vehicle. Some policies may include special car theft insurance which will include not only the vehicle, but the possessions inside as well. You may need to check with your insurer to see exactly what your policy covers. Your coverage may also cover specific parts that are stolen (even if the rest of the vehicle is still intact) but will exclude coverage for modifications and additions, like spoilers and other features.
If your auto policy does not include coverage for your vehicle’s contents due to theft, your home insurance or renter’s insurance might. Note that any policy has limitations, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your restrictions. Some higher value possessions, such as your electronics, will have certain percentage limits. If the item stolen is used for business, it may not be covered. Moreover, your deductible for a filed claim may be higher than the item was worth, so take your time to weigh your options before making any decisions.
If you are unsure as to whether your comprehensive coverage includes protection for unlocked vehicles or whether your belongings are covered in the event of theft, discuss with your friendly Excalibur Insurance broker. They can walk you through the details of your policy and lay out your coverage for you.