Car Contents Not Covered by Auto Insurance

It is very important to know the contents of an auto insurance policy beforehand so that any obligations can be covered at the right time.
Do you have any personal property you keep in your car? Clothes? Laptop computer? Ipod? Your child’s car seat or toys? Electronic devices? DVDs? A gym bag? An extensive CD collection? How about the items you buy after you go shopping? How about tools you keep in your pick up? What if someone broke into your car and stole them? None of these items are covered by your standard personal auto insurance policy.

I’m blogging today to help you avoid the theft of personal property from your car, know what is commonly covered and not covered, and get the insurance you need. The last thing customers want to hear when they call to report a claim is to find out they are not covered.

When you ask for “full coverage,” auto insurance, you get the state required coverage, and coverage for damage to your car, subject to deductibles, dollar limits, & exclusions.

So, if you have a thief break into your car, any damage to your car caused by the thief, above your comprehensive deductible, up to the dollar amount where your car is considered a total loss, is covered.

Any electronic equipment permanently installed where the manufacturer of the car intended it to be installed is usually covered: your car stereo inside your dashboard, the installed TVs in your SUV that came with the car, the CD changer installed and anchored in your trunk. Any equipment not permanently installed where the manufacturer intended, such as a CB radio attached under the dashboard, or additional speakers you install where your back seats should be, are not covered.

Some insurance companies limit coverage to a certain dollar amount it will pay for installed electronic equipment, or have less generous definitions of what equipment is considered “permanently” installed.

For example, I used to have a Volkswagen Jetta with a pull out tape player, which the insurance company I worked for at the time, would not cover, but the car insurance company insuring my Jetta, covered it.

Not all auto insurance companies are exactly alike in their coverage, and some insurance companies provide better service, and possibly broader coverage. So make sure you have the coverage you need. If you have $8,000 worth of stereo equipment, but your policy has a $5,000 limit for it, you need to know about it.

A thief might smash your car window, rip up your car seats, damage your ignition and steering wheel,  rip out your car stereo, and this will all be covered by your comprehensive coverage, for damage above your deductible.

But if the thief steals your laptop computer, iPod, and DVD collection from your car, these items are not covered by your auto insurance, leaving you feeling less than “fully covered.”

Your car insurance is designed to insured your car, not the property kept inside your car, and the cost of everyone’s auto insurance would be a lot more if these types of claims for personal property were covered by your auto insurance.

Auto insurance sometimes provides limited coverage for some personal property. An insurance company, if your car’s cd player is stolen, may cover as part of the claims settlement, the cost of one CD, which was in your stereo when it was stolen.

There may be some coverage for personal property you use when traveling, such as luggage, clothing, and other travel items. If these items are damaged in a collision, also damaging your car, or if your car is stolen with your travel items in it, there may be coverage for them. But if someone breaks into your car, and steals them, that is NOT covered.

What can you do to protect your personal property? A few auto insurance companies may let you add coverage for certain items, like a CD collection. But the best way to cover your personal property is to use your homeowners insurance, or buy renters insurance online.

For example, you buy a big screen TV, you place it in your car, then return to the mall to shop for a few more items. When you get back to your vehicle, someone broke into your car and stole your TV.

If the damage to your car is above your comprehensive deductible, you can place an auto insurance claim.

If the cost of the TV is more than your renters of insurance homeowners insurance, you can also place a separate claim on your property insurance.

Be aware most insurance companies limit coverage for personal property away from your home at 10% of the amount of coverage you have on your insurance policy for your personal property.

For example, the only damage to your car is a broken side window, and you have a full glass option on your auto insurance, so there is no deductible, and your car insurance pays for the cost to repair your car window.

The TV costs $3,000. You have a $500 deductible on your renters insurance, and you have $20,000 of personal property coverage on your policy.

The cost of the TV is $3,000, less your $500 deductible = $2,500.

But 10% of your $20,000 personal property coverage is $2,000, so your claim is paid at $2,000 for the theft loss of your $3,000 TV.

If you had $25,000 personal property coverage, you could have received the full $2,500.

Now, claims like these are covered, but one of these claims will raise your rates, and a second claim within 5 years of the first claim can get renters or home insurance canceled.

The best thing you can do is NEVER keep ANY personal property in your car unattended. Keep your car free of all items. I had a thief slice my convertible top just to confirm the contents of an empty plastic shopping bag I had thrown in the back of my car was truly empty.

If you have tools or items in a work truck, know they are not covered by a personal auto insurance policy, even if your truck has a tool box installed on it.

A lot of contractors, or construction workers, insure their trucks on personal auto insurance policies, rather than commercial auto insurance policies, which they really need for their work trucks.

Tools you own, which apply to your occupation, even if you do not use them for work, are usually excluded from home and renters insurance policies.

If you have tools you own or use for work, and you wish to cover them for theft, a small business owners insurance policy can cover them at a fairly low cost. Ask about it when you shop your insurance. Are you unsure how you are insured now? Then now is the time to shop your insurance and get what you need.

Many people pay too much for their insurance because they never shop for better rates, or if they do shop, they don’t check the rates of enough companies. For a lot of people, the best auto & home insurance companies are the ones with the coverage they need at a lower price. The intelligent ones always search for the insurance online then they compare it from various sites to get an accurate quote, in this way the best policy can be bought off at the cheapest rate and covering every prospect.

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