Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 13, 2021

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I get asked this question a lot as an insurance professional. The answer is yes, assuming you purchased the right type of coverage on your personal auto insurance policy. Just like any other type of damage, you decide before anything ever happens what your insurer will cover.

But you might be surprised to find out exactly what is covered and what isn’t.

First things first – you must have purchased a full coverage policy, including comprehensive coverage, also know as “other than collision,” to file such an insurance claim. Your insurance agent may give you a lower price quote for a liability only policy or one with only collision coverage. But comprehensive coverage for repair costs may not be as costly as you think.

What does comprehensive coverage cover in auto insurance?

Any damage to your vehicle as a result of the break-in would be covered if you have comprehensive coverage. This includes a broken window or lock, and any dents or dings suffered while the action took place. Collision coverage covers damage related to a collision generally with another car. Comprehensive coverage covers everything else from collisions with wildlife to falling trees, strong windstorms, and yes, break-ins.

Additionally, any equipment permanently attached to your vehicle or installed by the factory is covered. This would include the factory stereo or the airbag. Of course, if there are any exclusions, you could find these in your auto policy or by talking to your insurance company.

Airbags are a hot item for would-be car thieves, as they are sold to auto body shops for big bucks. Auto body shops reinstall them into cars where they have been deployed as a result of a collision.

Now on to the bad news…what isn’t covered. Many people assume any and all personal items left in the car are insured. This is NOT accurate, as coverage for these items is often excluded. Your sunglasses, radar detector, and wallet/purse stuffed under the seat are not covered by your car insurance policy.

That is, unless you have a homeowner’s policy or a renters policy in place to cover your personal items. Even then, the auto insurance deductible for theft will likely be higher than what your claim would be. So you’re probably better off replacing those items out of your own pocket rather than paying higher premiums for your homeowners insurance or renters insurance upon renewal.

Do note that it’s possible to list additional equipment on some policies to include the cost of aftermarket items you may want covered in the event of a theft or even an accident. Any theft-related claim would have to be backed up by a police report. If you have credit or debit cards that have been stolen, you would also need to call your bank as soon as you know to freeze or cancel your cards.

Your insurance company may request pictures and receipts in order to certify the value. You will have to pay additional insurance premium to get these items covered, but it may be well worth it for those with expensive aftermarket add-ons.

(photo: dumbonyc)