You have auto insurance to protect your car, and home insurance to protect your home and its contents - but what about the contents of your car? Few people realize that auto insurance only covers their vehicle - not the contents of the vehicle. The time to start thinking about the personal property in your car isn't after your vehicle has been stolen or burglarized, it's now. For example, consider what you leave in your vehicle regularly - electronic equipment, GPS, laptop, sporting equipment, etc. If you want to be protected in the event your car is stolen or burglarized, you should augment your car insurance with a small property insurance policy.
Facts about Auto Theft & Personal Property
In Canada, on average, a vehicle is stolen every three minutes, and the theft of the personal items left within a vehicle ranks as the third most popular property crime (Statistics Canada, 2005). Regardless of your vehicle's anti-theft devices, there is never any guarantee that the contents in your automobile are safe. With that in mind, be aware that should your car get stolen or broken into it is highly unlikely that any of your personal property will be recovered - even if your vehicle is found.
Whether you have an iPod, laptop, sports equipment, or other items of value that you regularly carry in your car, your automotive insurance policies won't protect them. Property insurance, on the other hand, covers the contents of your vehicle, even if it's only temporarily in the vehicle, like your grocery shopping or gifts. So in the case where your car is stolen or broken into, you will need to have both insurance policies to be entirely protected against loss.
How Automobile Property Insurance Works
Generally, automobile property insurance is an extension of your homeowner's or tenant's insurance. Policies usually include coverage for 10% of your personal property coverage or $1,500, whichever is greater. But you don't have to have homeowner's or tenant's insurance to be able to protect your personal belongings in your vehicle. Sign up for a property insurance policy to protect your belongings - wherever they are.
Since property insurance is separate from your car insurance policies, if your car is stolen you will be required to file two claims: one for the car (or the damage to it), and one for the personal property that was in it. Remember, two separate claims to will leave two 'marks' on your insurance record, and you will have to pay two separate deductibles to claim for both losses. The exception is that if you have both your home and automobile policies with the same insurance provider, you will only pay the higher of the two deductibles when filing your claim.
You should always, ALWAYS, lock your vehicle - no matter where it is parked. Some Canadian car insurance policies will not pay for lost personal belongings if there is no physical evidence of a theft - such as a smashed window or tampered lock. Even if you park your vehicle at home in a locked garage, you should still take the extra precaution of locking it and turning on its anti-theft device. Thieves will take almost any opportunity to steal something, so make sure you make their job as difficult as possible while protecting yourself from a claim being rejected.
Keeping records of the items you carry in your vehicle makes the claims process go smoothly should you need to file a claim. Receipts and pictures are a good idea; just don't keep the records in your car! For important or expensive items that you will be leaving in your car regularly it is a good idea to engrave them with your driver's license number so that if the item is recovered or found it can be returned to you.