Auto insurance or home insurance: who covers the theft of things from your car?


Earlier this season, a couple entered my boyfriend's car and stole everything inside.

The theft took place in the driveway of my suburban home, where we have security cameras installed. But having all this info on hand does not mean any of the stolen items will be recovered.

Unfortunately, theft happens. Often.

Property theft violations increased 4% between 2021 and 2021, with police receiving reports of these crimes more than 1,150,000 times in Canada – 314,915 of these incidents occurred in Ontario and another 216,619 occurred in Alberta.

If you're ever the victim of a crime such as this – where your individual property is stolen from your car – this is what you should know and just what you need to do.

Keep calm and call the police

Even if nobody was hurt, the theft of items out of your car is really a crime. Report it. Particularly if you intend on contacting insurance companies. The incident must be on record.

Call the police immediately and, if safe and possible, do so in the scene of the crime.

John Bordignon, a spokesperson and communications strategist for State Farm Canada and Desjardins Group, says time matters.

“Call law enforcement and report [the theft] as soon as possible after which enable your insurance company know of the situation and your lack of property. You can then begin the claims process immediately, if you choose to,” Bordignon advises.

Here's what you can expect to occur once you contact the police:

  1. You'll be asked to state the reason for your call and provide some fundamental info: in which the theft occurred, where your car was parked, etc.

  2. A officer will come to gather a detailed in-person statement. You might be asked the next:

    • When did the theft occur?

    • What was stolen?

    • What is the approximate worth of the stolen items?

    • Can any of the stolen items be tracked? (ex. Your iPhone via the Find iPhone app)

    • Was there damage to the vehicle and was the car locked?

    • Do you've footage of the theft and can this footage be viewed by the police?

  3. A detective may contact you to follow up. Within my boyfriend's case, a detective accompanied a week later to get a copy from the camera footage.

It requires a property insurance policy to protect your property

Once you've known as the police, you are able to speak to your insurance provider. But you'll be claiming beneath your home insurance policy, not your vehicle insurance plan.

As Bordignon explains, just the items “essential to the operation of the vehicle or physically mounted on it, like the wheels, a bicycle rack, or stereo” are protected from your car insurance.

Everything else – much like your gym bag, laptop, headphones, and other things you normally toss in the backseat or trunk of your car – brings your potential claim that they can property insurance territory.

“Most personal property items stolen out of your car would come under an ordinary home insurance claim,” says Bordignon. “But [you] may be susceptible to monetary limits, a deductible, along with other conditions as outlined inside your policy.”

In short, it isn't always worth it to submit claims. Particularly if there's no be certain that you'll get any money back, but there is a higher possibility that the annual property insurance premium increases since you filed a claim.

That's why Bordignon urges Canadians to do their research when they buy property insurance – “It's a good idea to read your policy and get your insurance provider questions regarding your coverage, deductible, and limits,” – that's also why my boyfriend chose not to submit his claim.

Your quick and dirty help guide to filing a claim

Now you know the steps to consider if someone steals property out of your car, you need to determine if submitting a claim to your insurance carrier is actually worthwhile. You need to be highly organized and assured inside your claim. And prior to going, you should be prepared. Keep your following things in your mind.

  1. It's going to be much easier to assert for the stolen property in case your home and auto policy already are with the same provider. If they're not, bundling is something you should think of for future years. Sidenote: bundling also nets an insurance discount.

  2. It's not guaranteed that your insurance provider pays out your claim. As Bordignon cautions, “Each situation is exclusive and viewed under its own merits, usually, in case your rentals are stolen from your car that's obviously a crime.”

  3. Your insurance provider asks for receipts and photos of all things you lost to be able to backup your claim. If you don't already have an up-to-date inventory of basically all you own, you're ready to end up with, very organized.