Should I report my stolen car stereo to the insurance company?
May 10, 2009 10:35 AM   Subscribe

My car stereo just got stolen - while my car was in my driveway. Should I report it to my insurance company?

So I came outside not 10 minutes ago to find the passenger-side window of my '02 Chevy Prizm smashed in, and my 3-year-old mediocre Alpine head unit stolen. It was the cheapest one at the time that had an auxiliary in (I think $199 new, not that I have the receipt handy to prove it), and I was starting to look at replacing it anyway with one that had better iPod integration and HD radio, so I'm not particularly worried about the stereo cost itself - although it would be nice to have it replaced.

What I'm not sure about is - should I handle this out-of-pocket, or report it to State Farm to see what they'll do? While it would be great to have the repairs paid for, we have three other cars under our policy; I don't know if it works this way, but I'd be worried we'd be classified as a higher risk and have our rates raised. If any rates get raised, I'd rather just pay for it myself.

As a bit of background, we live in a mediocre to bad part of town - we haven't had any home theft lately, but did have a car stolen a few years ago that we reported and was eventually returned.

I don't yet have the insurance paperwork in front of me (going to dig those up next), but our plan with State Farm is fairly comprehensive... it's covered a windshield replacement due to a crack, and all of the rental/repair costs from when I was in a not-at-fault accident about six months ago and had some collision damage taken care of.

Side question - if I don't report it, is it even worth filing a police report? And am I allowed to drive it without the window for now (NYS)?

Thanks for any thoughts.
posted by agentmunroe to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
 
"And am I allowed to drive it without the window for now (NYS)?"

Generally the only window you are required to have is the windshield, after all it's completely legal to drive around with your windows rolled down. However if you cover the window with plastic it must be transparent and non distorting. If you have a framed window then the very thin lexan you can buy at home depot makes a good temporary repair.
posted by Mitheral at 11:02 AM on May 10, 2009


This just happened to me a few months ago. Almost exact set of circumstances, except my car was parked in my son's driveway, in a very nice subdivision in a semi-small town. We did file a police report, kind of as a civic duty in case of a rash of this type in this small area. We did NOT report it to the insurance company because we just didn't see any point. I'm not an expert by any means, and I'm sure others will have better advice, but this is how we handled it.
posted by raisingsand at 11:04 AM on May 10, 2009


Check to see if your insurance company has separate coverage for windows. I had a car window smashed in a few years ago, and AAA had additional glass coverage, with only a $100 deductible, AND they would send someone to your work or home to fix the window.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:09 AM on May 10, 2009


yeah my deductible is 0 for glass so its always worth reporting. the stereo for my car is specifically not covered.
I've never had my deductible go up for reporting glass
posted by alkupe at 11:33 AM on May 10, 2009


Talk to your local insurance agent. The agent will tell you straight up whether it's worth it or not to report, and what the fallout might be.

They're (the thieves) are waiting for you to replace the car stereo, btw. They're not lurking in the bushes, but they'll check you regularly to see what you leave for them next time.
posted by reflecked at 11:40 AM on May 10, 2009


My car was broken into last year in the street in front of my house. I reported the damage to Allstate and got the door handle they destroyed, the stereo, and even the scratches on the paint from where they dinged their tools covered. Dollar-wise, it was well worth it to report the damage. They didn't raise my premiums at all. Think about it- assuming it costs $500 (shot in the dark- no idea how much a window is for your car) to replace everything out of pocket, and hypothetically they increase your premium by $20/mo (if at all), that means you're better off for 25 months.

You said you discovered it 10 minutes ago at 1:35pm, but I'm guessing that it happened last night and you just now found out. If that's the case, investing $25 and an hour to install a motion sensor light fixture over your driveway might help you prevent this from happening again. Also, remember to take your faceplate off when you leave your car out there!

Oh, and ALWAYS file a police report. It helps the police get stats on crime in your area, and could help persuade authorities to step up patrols in your neighborhood. Also, if you ever have to refer back to the crime for insurance/taxes/legal/whatever, you'll have that.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 1:00 PM on May 10, 2009


JuiceBoxHero, that's true if it were just my car; but since there are 4 cars that people have all under one policyholder, I'd rather not raise the rates of everyone collectively by $20... if that's going to happen.

The motion-sensor light isn't a bad idea, but we already usually leave the porch light on, which covers most of the parking area of the driveway. Given reflecked's point about them coming back in the future it might not be a bad idea anyway.

And reflecked, does just calling them and asking actually work? I sort of figured if I talked to State Farm and asked them, they'd take that as a report no matter what I ultimately wanted. Great point about them potentially stopping by in the future, too.
posted by agentmunroe at 2:08 PM on May 10, 2009


And reflecked, does just calling them and asking actually work? I sort of figured if I talked to State Farm and asked them

Reflecked means to call the agent who sold you the insurance, not state farm itself. (But it is possible you are dealing with state farm directly, and this advice doesn't apply.) I.e. my agent is a person at the local AAA office, who does not really work for the insurance company and presumably is more likely to be on my side than the actual company.
posted by advil at 3:22 PM on May 10, 2009


Here in Montreal a missing window can get you a ticket, something about irresponsibly inviting theft or somesuch.
I know this because my husband came out one morning to find his car broken into and a cop writing a ticket for having a missing window despite the broken glass covering the seat - lo the power of the law in punishing rusty old beaters for daring to park in nice neighborhoods.
posted by Billegible at 3:55 PM on May 10, 2009


JuiceBoxHero, that's true if it were just my car; but since there are 4 cars that people have all under one policyholder, I'd rather not raise the rates of everyone collectively by $20... if that's going to happen.

Then why the heck do you have insurance!? This is what it's for. If you can't claim damage to your car (especially acquired through no fault of your own) then why bother? Just get PLPD and be done with it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:49 PM on May 10, 2009


Thanks everyone. I find insurance companies rather nerve-wracking and leave most of the interactions to other people, so I really just didn't have any idea.

As it happens, one of the other cars was also broken into - it was actually further in the backyard (it's being stowed while its owner is in Alaska and doesn't need to be in the main driveway) and I didn't notice it, so we wound up calling the insurance company anyway and filing several claims for the glass broken in both cars.
posted by agentmunroe at 4:27 PM on May 11, 2009


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