Car was stolen. No comprehensive. Now what?
April 17, 2016 12:45 PM   Subscribe

My car was stolen (from a major suburb in the Boston area). Wondering about next steps.

I have called the towing companies and they don't have it. I have biked every street in the immediate neighborhood (maybe half-mile radius) to make sure I didn't just forget where I parked it. I have called the police and they don't have a record of it being towed. A police officer is on the way for me to make a police report.

Unfortunately I do not have comprehensive coverage on the vehicle. (It had a dent in the fender when I bought it, and since it wasn't fully fixed, the insurance company declined to provide comprehensive coverage. At the time it wasn't worth paying $600 to fix the fender.)

I'm in the fortunate position that this isn't a huge loss to me. I have access to another vehicle, a bike, and public transit. The value of the car is around $3000 and I have the savings to cover that. There was nothing else valuable in the car. I don't depend on a car for my job.

My question is, should I still report this as a stolen car to my insurance company? (Do I even have a choice in the matter?) I'm concerned that I would have this on my insurance record and it would cause my rates to go up, either now or later. If they're not going to pay me for the loss, then I'd rather not report it UNLESS not reporting it would cause a bigger problem, like I might be on the hook for any crimes committed with the vehicle. Can I just cancel my coverage instead? What are my options?

Ugh. Not how I wanted to spend my Sunday. But I guess if someone is going to steal a high-dollar-value item from me, a car has the advantage of being easily replaceable.
posted by Questolicious to Law & Government (11 answers total)
You report this to the police to prevent you from being liable from being a suspect in crimes committed with the vehicle.

You can't file a claim with your insurance because you don't have a policy you can claim against. You cancel your other policies on the vehicle because it's a waste of money to insure something you don't have. It won't affect your rates because you haven't made a claim.
posted by kindall at 1:11 PM on April 17, 2016 [16 favorites]

kindall is right: report it to the police right now. You want it on record that you don't have access to the car, and that any tickets it gets or accidents its involved in (or even worse, crimes committed with it) aren't dumped on you.
posted by easily confused at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Police report made.
posted by Questolicious at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2016

You also need a police report because, unless things have changed since the last time I moved out of Massachusetts, your auto insurer will not drop the policy unless you return the license plates to them. The exception is if the car is stolen (or, I presume, the plates are lost), in which case you'll probably need to swear an affidavit to the effect that the plates are no longer in your possession. The police report will be a big help.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:41 PM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you itemize deductions on your taxes, you can deduct the loss.
posted by Candleman at 2:03 PM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

In Connecticut, you would notify the DMV so they don't bill you for property tax. If you had the plates, they would go through DMV, or onto your next car.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:55 PM on April 17, 2016

If you itemize deductions on your taxes, you can deduct the loss.

While this is true, don't get super excited. You can only deduct the part of the loss that is above 10% of your AGI unless the car was business property (you also have to subtract $100 from the value for whatever reason). So if the car was really worth $3,000 the day it was stolen and your AGI is above $30,000 for the year, there's no deduction.
posted by zachlipton at 4:43 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

When a registration is cancelled with the RMV, the RMV issues a receipt that the reg was cancelled. That receipt (not the plates) are provided to the insurer.

A police report and a copy of the receipt cancelling the reg will also be helpful when you get your excise tax bill.
posted by mattbcoset at 4:55 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Besides the $600 repair issue, it's just smart not to have insured it. My rule of thumb is that when a car is paid off and below $3,000 in value, having comprehensive is no longer worthwhile, since you'd be paying in the ballpark of 10% or more of the loss value to insure it. I figure that over my lifetime, self-insuring that risk will save money, and so far I'm well ahead.
posted by beagle at 5:38 AM on April 18, 2016

Make sure you keep a copy of the police report and any other documentation, so that when the "new owner" of your vehicle starts driving through red light cameras and toll roads, you can fight the bills that get mailed to you. This usually starts about a month after the theft, when you thought it was all done and settled.
posted by CathyG at 10:51 AM on April 18, 2016

I think you should tell your insurance company because otherwise you will have to keep paying car insurance on a car you no longer have, right?
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:44 AM on April 19, 2016

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