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Realizing that someone just broke into your car and stole your personal property can be scary and stressful — but that’s what insurance is for.

Your insurance can help you recoup the value of the stolen items and help pay for any repairs or replacements that are needed. While your first instinct may be to start a claim through your car insurance, you might be surprised to know that your home insurance is usually the policy that'll cover items stolen from your vehicle.

Here’s how home insurance protects you in the event of car theft, and what to do if someone breaks into your vehicle. 

What to do if your car has been broken into 

  • Check your surroundings: Since a crime did take place, your safety should be your highest priority. Assess your surroundings and if you don’t feel safe, leave and find a safe place where you can call for help. 
  • Document the scene: If it’s safe to do so, document the scene with a few photos of your car. If there’s damage to your vehicle, take a few close-up photos for your insurance claim and your police report.
  • Assess your losses: Check your vehicle and make a list of any belongings that were stolen.
  • File a police report: The incident needs to be on record with the police before you can file an insurance claim. To speed things up, have your driver’s licence , vehicle registration, auto insurance slip, photos of the scene, and the list of stolen items ready before making the call.
  • Protect yourself from identity theft: If your debit or credit cards were stolen during the break-in, you should contact your bank(s) and immediately cancel your cards. You could also call one of Canada’s main credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and Transunion — and place a fraud alert, which makes it harder for identity thieves to open new bank accounts in your name. Onlia’s home insurance policies include Identity Theft coverage, which can provide support to help you through the recovery process if your identity were to be stolen. 

Once you’ve gone through these steps, it’s time to contact your home insurance provider. 

How home insurance may protect you 

Personal belongings that are stolen from your vehicle are typically covered under your home insurance policy — and that includes tenant and condo insurance policies, too. 

Personal Property  coverage is the part of your insurance that’ll kick in to cover this type of loss. Things like your laptop, gym bag, cell phone, or even sporting equipment like hockey or skiing gear — anything that’s not physically attached to the car is typically covered by your personal property coverage. 

What if I don’t have home insurance?

If you don’t have home insurance at the time of the theft, you won’t be able to file a claim for the goods stolen from your car. That’s why it’s important to have home insurance, even if it isn’t technically mandatory in Ontario.  

What is Personal Property coverage?

Personal property insurance, also known as content insurance, is coverage that’s included in Onlia’s homeowner, tenant, or condo insurance policies. It covers your belongings (furniture, appliances, clothes, laptop) that are stored at home — or anywhere else in the world — against covered losses, including theft. 

When it comes to home insurance, Onlia’s personal property coverage is based on the estimated total value of your home. The percentage you select (25%, 50%, or 75%) reflects the amount of coverage you have relative to your home’s estimated value. So, if your home is valued  at $500,000, and you choose 50% coverage, then you would have a maximum of $250,000 in personal property coverage for your belongings if they’re damaged or stolen. Coverages and limits can vary depending on the type of home insurance you have (i.e., condo or tenant), so it’s best to check your policy documents to be sure of your coverage. 

Onlia's standard home insurance policies come with protection for your personal property while it’s temporarily away from your home, anywhere in the world. Anything that’s stored at another location that you own, rent, or occupy is covered up to a limit of $5,000.

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So… What about my car insurance?  

Your car insurance still offers protection in the case of theft — just under different circumstances. If a thief were to smash your driver-side window and break into your car, the broken window would be covered under your car insurance policy. 

Your car insurance will also kick in if anything that was attached to  your car (like the car seat) or is essential to operating the vehicle (like the catalytic converter) is stolen. 

And, of course, your car insurance will cover you if your vehicle is stolen. But there’s a catch.

Your car insurance policy must have comprehensive coverage to file an insurance claim that includes vandalism or theft. 

To ensure that you’re covered, check your Onlia car insurance policy to make sure that Comprehensive  coverage is included. The name or type of coverage that kicks in for this type of claim may be different, depending on your provider — it’s also referred to as Specified Perils or All Perils coverage. Check with your insurance provider to understand your individual policy.

If your car were to be stolen, you’ll have to file two different insurance claims: one claim for the car itself under your car insurance, and another claim for your personal property, which was stolen with the car. 

Should you file a home insurance claim? 

It depends. Before filing the claim, contact your home insurance provider and discuss your options. Depending on the situation, filing a home insurance claim may not be in your best interest.  

Whether or not you decide to file a claim should depend on a few factors:

  • The cost of your stolen property: If the value of the stolen items is negligible it might make sense to avoid filing a claim, especially if your deductible is greater than the cost of the stolen items.
  • Your deductible amount: You’ll have to pay a deductible when filing a claim, and in some cases that payment may be greater than the money you’ll be getting back for your stolen items. 
  • Your claims history: Your eligibility for home insurance in the future and the cost of your home insurance policy may be impacted, depending on how many claims you’ve made in the past.
  • Your ability to pay out of pocket: If the value of the stolen items is negligible, it may make more sense to replace your stolen or damaged items out of pocket to avoid both the deductible, and impact to your claims history. 

Making a home insurance claim

If you decide to move forward with making a home insurance claim, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider to get the process started. Filing a home insurance claim is quite standard, and most insurers follow similar steps, as outlined below:

  • Contact your insurer: Notify your insurer of the incident as soon as possible. They’ll help you get the claims process started and will assign an adjuster to help you through the claims process by offering support and answering any questions you may have.
  • Assess contents loss: Take inventory of items stolen from your car and their respective value. Your adjuster will assess this inventory and calculate a settlement value to replace your stolen/damaged items. 
  • Document the damage: If your car was damaged during the break-in, take pictures and video of all the damage to share with the adjuster. 
  • Finalize the process: Once you’ve been compensated for your stolen contents, you will sign a few forms to complete the process.

That’s why it’s important to do your research when shopping for home insurance. Not every home insurance policy is the same, and it’s important to know your policy well so that you know where you’re protected. The specific coverages, deductibles and coverage limits are things in your policy that you’ll want to be aware of. 

On the market for a home insurance policy that’ll fit your lifestyle? Onlia’s flexible home insurance policies allow you to adjust your insurance to suit your needs, and you can make changes to your coverage online, anytime. Get a quote today. 

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