Finding out your car has been stolen can be overwhelming. You might wonder what is the right thing to do and if you’re entitled to claim payments for auto theft from your insurance provider. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide and useful tips you can consider to prevent your car from being stolen.
It was a bright sunny day and you had a quick errand to run in the city. You parked your car, took all of your belongings, shut the door and pressed the lock button on your car keys.
After 30 minutes, you returned to where your car was parked and found out that your car was nowhere to be seen. You frantically looked everywhere for your car, but couldn’t find it. Panicked, you felt your heart racing and the first thing that came to mind - what to do?
You then try to recall if you locked your car or if you went to the wrong parking spot, but none of it seems to make sense. There is only one possibility left: your car has been stolen.
Car theft is one of the situations you would never want to experience, but what would you do if it happened to you? What are the right steps to take if your car has been stolen?
Below are the four important steps that you must take:
Four steps to take when your car is stolen
1. Check if your car was stolen
The first thing you need to do is to check if your car was stolen. If you parked your car at a closed or paid parking space like the shopping malls or office buildings, car theft can still happen. In this scenario, check with the building management and get the security footage (if there’s any) to confirm that your car was stolen.
If you parked in a public space or near a shop lot, look around and check the parking space as there’s a chance that you just forgot the exact place where you parked your car. You should also contact the towing companies to see if your car got towed unknowingly. Ask people around if they noticed any suspicious activity while you were away.
What if your car gets stolen from your own home? Although you have a front porch gate that could prevent your car from being stolen, it doesn’t guarantee the safety of the car. Car thieves will use the slightest chance to steal the car whenever possible like when you forget to lock the gate and leave the gate open.
If you have a CCTV installed at the porch, you can use the footage as a solid proof that your car was stolen. If you don’t, ask your neighbours who do. Other than that, a GPS device would be helpful for you to trace and locate your car if you have it installed to your vehicle.
If your car was indeed stolen, the next step is to make a police report. Do not try to find your vehicle on your own. Car thieves are desperate individuals; therefore, trying to recover your car on your own could put yourself in a dangerous situation. The thieves could have past criminal records and might be potentially armed, so never confront them if you do not want to assume the risk of what may happen as a result.
2. Report your stolen car to the police
You must make a police report immediately once you find out that your car was stolen. Go to the nearest police station to file a stolen car report, and make sure that you provide enough information about your car. The details may include:
- Car registration plate
- Vehicle identification number
- Your identification
- Car’s brand, model and colour
- Tracking device (if any)
- Other distinct features of your car
Once the report has been made, don’t forget to keep a copy of the report for yourself since you will need it for the insurance claim process later.
3. Contact your car insurance company
Get in touch with your respective insurer to file for a stolen car insurance claim.
After you filed the police report, inform your car insurance company that your car has been stolen. Your insurer will request you to compile and submit a number of documents within a stipulated time frame which is within seven days of the date of accident/loss if you are not physically disabled or hospitalised following the event.
Below are the documents needed for the claim:
- Claim form (provider by insurers)
- Original copy of police report
- Copy of driver’s NRIC
- Copy of driver’s driving license
- Vehicle registration card
- Copy of hire purchase agreement
Take note that you will only be able to file a car theft claim depending on the:
a) Types of car insurance policy
The insurance company will only compensate comprehensive and third party, fire and theft policyholders as the policy includes theft coverage while the third party insurance policy does not. Find out more about the types of car insurance coverage here.
b) Nature of theft
If your car was stolen due to self-negligence, then you’re not qualified to file for a stolen car insurance claim. For example, you handed over your car keys to the car wash operator and instead of waiting, you went to other places and only returned an hour later. You then realised that your car is missing. This is clear negligence on your part.
c) How much can you claim?
It depends on the agreement you made with your insurance company. If your car is insured based on the agreed value, then you can claim the same amount. But if it’s insured based on the market value, then the settlement will be based on the current car market value or the sum insured, whichever is lower.
What’s the difference between agreed value and market value?
An agreed value is the value both you and your insurer agreed to insure the car for until the policy renewal date. The value is determined based on the vehicle’s model and age.
A market value is how much your car is worth or priced in the market before it was damaged or stolen.
4. Report lost or stolen items from your car
Call the bank customer service to cancel your cards if you left them in your car.
Besides reporting your stolen vehicle to the police and car insurance company, there are other parties you may also need to notify. If you left your essentials like your wallet that contained a credit card and debit card, you have to let the bank know so they can cancel your lost or stolen cards. If you left your house keys in the car, go to the locksmith and have your locks changed as soon as possible.
You can inform your friends and family so they can be on the lookout for your stolen car. Posting lost vehicle information on social media could also help the public to be aware of your missing car. While you’re doing that, don’t forget to attach some pictures of your car and include other required details like the car model, colour and plate numbers that can be helpful in the caption.
Bonus tip: Check car selling sites
Cars are often stolen for the parts, which means they can quickly get dismantled and disappear. In the event your car is found, it may be damaged or have some missing parts.
Besides having your car disassembled and the parts sold for profits, the thieves could also sell your stolen car on car selling sites. You can search and browse through different websites if any cars match your car’s description.
Important: If you find any leads, contact and inform the authority immediately so they can do the investigation for you. Do not confront the thieves on your own to avoid any misunderstanding or disagreement.
What if your stolen car is recovered?
If your car was stolen and then recovered, you will want to check if any personal items have been stolen. But keep in mind that comprehensive coverage won’t cover stolen personal items such as a phone or a laptop.
If the authority informs that your vehicle has been recovered after you’ve notified your insurer, you must:
- Not reclaim possession of your vehicle unless authorised by the police.
- Immediately inform your insurer so they can make proper arrangements on the claim process and inspection of the recovered vehicle.
If you manage to get your car back within the claim process period, you are still the rightful owner of your car. Any repair cost incurred is still claimable from the insurer and your No Claim Discount (NCD) will be forfeited.
Claim process period: A period of which your insurer is still processing your claim request
No Claim Discount (NCD): An entitlement or reward for policyholder if there’s no claim made on your car insurance policy within the one-year insured period.
The NCD rate depends on a rate fixed by Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM). Private cars can have an NCD rate between 25% to 55% as agreed in the policy.
However, if the claim has been processed by your insurer, you are no longer the owner of the vehicle. Instead, the insurer takes over the ownership of the vehicle.
As stated by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the claim process may take up to six months from the date of notification of theft or when the investigation has been completed, whichever is earlier. This is to allow any possible recovery of your vehicle by the authorities during the investigation period.
If your car was stolen and you still owe some money on it, you'll have to continue paying for the instalments while filing the insurance claims. In case your stolen car cannot be recovered or found, you need to pay off the remaining amount with your insurance payout.
Be more vigilant and use these tips to prevent your car from being stolen in the future
You don’t want the same incident to happen twice. You could park your car in a safe space like a gated house compound, but that does not lessen the possibility of car theft.
Here are nine things you can do to prevent your car from being stolen:
- Never leave your vehicle’s engine running without a passenger, even if you will be gone for one minute.
- Park your car at a gated area, busy area or somewhere secured.
- Do not leave the parking ticket and season parking card in your car as it may make it easier for the thieves to steal your car.
- Ensure your car is locked and the windows are closed.
- Never leave valuable items and documents in your car, both in and out of sight.
- Install a GPS tracking system.
- Use a locking device on the steering wheel and gear shift.
- Install a car alarm and other optional sensors to monitor your glass breakage, motion, etc.
- Don't hang or place your car keys in common places such as the front door key rack, key bowl or in plain sights such as the living room, master bedroom or office.