A woman talks on her cellphone, showing what to do if your car is stolen

Discovering that your vehicle has been stolen can leave you feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. However, reacting quickly and calmly will increase your chances of finding your car, help kickstart your insurance claim, and get you back on the road sooner. Take these steps if your car has been stolen:

  1. Stay calm and assess the situation. If you’ve noticed that your car is missing, don’t immediately assume it’s been stolen. Instead, go through the possibilities. Start by checking nearby signs to see if you were parked in a prohibited area or parked for longer than you were legally allowed, resulting in your car being towed. Contact anyone else who has a key to your car and ask if they’ve taken it without letting you know.
  2. Call the police immediately. If your car hasn’t been towed or borrowed and you believe it has been stolen, contact the police to report the theft as soon as possible. You’ll want to have important information about the car on hand, including the make, model, year, colour, vehicle identification number, and license plate number. If you don’t have this information ready available, you should still call the police immediately. You’ll also be expected to know where your car was last located, any specific or unique details about the car, and a list of any valuables that were in the car. Once you’ve filed a police report, be sure to get a copy, as you’ll need to share it with your insurer opens a pop-up with definition of insurer.
  3. Call your group’s broker or your car insurance company’s 24-hour claims line as soon as you can to report the theft. Calling your group’s broker or your insurer’s claims line will begin the claims process and help protect you if the thief damages property or harms others while driving your car. Like when talking to the police, be prepared to provide as many details as you can when filing a claim with your car insurance provider. A representative will follow up with you in the days after you’ve made your claim to discuss further details. It’s important to note that your car insurance policy will only cover a stolen vehicle if you havespecified perils opens a pop-up with definition of specified perils,comprehensive opens a pop-up with definition of comprehensive, or all perils opens a pop-up with definition of all perils coverage. Review your car insurance policy or talk to your group’s broker to understand what type of coverage you have.
  4. Contact your home insurance company, too. If you had any belongings or valuables in the car, you’ll have to contact your home insurance provider to make a separate claim. Personal belongings are covered by home insurance, not car insurance — even if they were in your vehicle.
  5. Report the theft to your vehicle’s financing or leasing company. If your vehicle was financed or leased, you’ll have to give the financing or leasing company a call to report the theft. If your car is leased and it isn’t recovered, your insurance company will send a co-payable cheque (per the terms outlined in your policy) to the leasing company to reimburse them for the actual cash value of the vehicle. If your car is financed, you’ll likely receive a co-payable cheque to provide to your lien holder. Your lender will tell you if any further action is required on your part.
  6. Organize alternative transportation. In the meantime, you’ll need to arrange another way to get around and go about your day-to-day life. The cost of a rental car or another method of transportation could be covered by your insurance policy or through your car’s extended warranty, so be sure to ask your insurer or lender about your options.
  7. Change important passwords and alert your bank, your credit card provider, and the credit bureau if electronics or documents containing personal information were stolen. Thieves aren’t always trying to steal your vehicle — sometimes their goal is to steal your personal information, whether it’s stored on a device like a laptop or on a physical document like your pink slip, in an effort to commit identity theft. If your wallet was in your car when it was stolen, call your bank to report lost credit or debit cards. Consider calling one of the major credit bureaus in Canada and asking them to add a fraud alert to your credit file so they can keep an eye out for suspicious activity. And contact the card issuer directly to report lost identification cards.
  8. Sit tight. Investigations can take up to 30 days. If your vehicle is found, it may be damaged or missing parts. Your insurer has the right to decide if it’s worthwhile to repair — they’ll estimate the cost, and if they go forward with the repairs, you may have to pay a deductible opens a pop-up with definition of deductible to get it back on the road depending on which province you’re in. But if your car isn’t recovered, you could be offered a settlement and be reimbursed for the actual cash value of your car (minus your deductible, if applicable).

Wondering what to do if your car is ever stolen? If you act quickly and calmly, you can increase your chances of finding your car. Take these steps to kickstart your insurance claim and get back on the road sooner.

Car theft can happen even when you’ve taken all the right steps to prevent it. Reach out to your group’s car insurance broker to make sure you have the coverage you need to protect you in the event -that your vehicle is ever stolen.

Every year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada releases a list of the top 10 most stolen vehicles in Canada. SUVs, luxury vehicles, and pick-up trucks are typically at the top of the list. Whether or not your vehicle is on the list, you should still take precautions to prevent car theft.

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