If your car is broken into or vandalized, figuring out how to recover your losses can be confusing, and you may not even know where to start. Ensuring you take the proper steps after a car break-in allows you to get your car repaired and your personal items replaced as quickly as possible. After checking your surroundings and making sure it’s safe to approach your car, here are 5 steps to take after your car is broken into.
1. Document the damage
The first step after your car is broken into is to make sure you document your car the way you found it. If windows are smashed in, the body of your car is keyed, or any other damage or vandalism is done, take pictures to later show the police and your insurance company. Try not to touch or move anything around until you’ve taken pictures of everything.
2. Make a list of stolen items
Think about everything that was in your car before it was broken into. Along with items like your car radio, purse or backpack, you should also think about any personal documents you might have had in your car at the time, like bank statements. You can use this list when filing your police report and your claim with your insurance company.
3. File a police report
After you’ve documented the damage done to your car and made a list of your losses, contact your local police office’s non-emergency number to report the break-in. Make sure to have all your information, including:
- Your car registration
- Your driver's license
- Your car insurance information
- Your photos of damaged property and list of stolen property
Your insurance company will most likely require a police report of your car getting broken into in order to file a claim, and having the proof of a police report can only benefit you in trying to recover your losses.
4. Call your bank to report any potential fraud
If any of your credit cards or financial documents, like bank statements, were potentially taken when your car was broken into, report it to your bank or credit card company. Doing this as soon as you can can prevent any fraud, or help to get your money back if any fraud has already occured. This also allows you to get any necessary replacement cards sooner.
5. Call your insurance company
It might seem obvious to submit a claim with your insurance company if your car is broken into, but the damage done might not be enough to make it worth filing claim. If the cost of your deductible is higher than the cost of the damage actually done, it won’t make sense to go through your insurance company.
If you have renters or homeowners insurance, your policy should cover any loose items inside your car, such as your purse, wallet, laptop or other personal belongings. If something affixed to your car was stolen — rims, car radio or something else — your car insurance company would potentially cover the theft if you have comprehensive insurance coverage. Additionally, any damage done to the body of your vehicle would be covered by this portion of your policy.
Call your insurance agent or company to get a quote on how much the damage will cost to repair. Keep in mind that if you file a claim with your insurance company, your rates may increase, even though you’re not at fault.
>> READ MORE: Top 10 most stolen cars in America
How to prevent your car from getting broken into
According to the FBI, car theft has been slowly going up in the past years. However, you can take some simple and effective steps to prevent your car from being broken into, or worse, stolen.
- Lock the doors and keep the windows up
- Don’t ever leave your car running or the keys in your car
- Hide any valuable items if you have to leave them in your car
- Buy anti-theft devices like a steering wheel lock or alarm, if your car doesn’t have one
- Be careful where you park your car late at night or overnight; try to park in well lit areas
Finding out your car has been broken into is undoubtedly a stressful situation. However, knowing the proper steps to take to get your car repaired and your items replaced can make the recovery process smoother. Additionally, having the right car insurance is an important step in the event of any accident or emergency. See which insurance companies rank as the top car insurance companies in your area, according to consumers.
Summary: 5 steps to take after your car is broken into
- Document the damage
- Make a list of stolen items
- File a police report
- Call your bank to report any potential fraud
- Call your insurance company
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