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What should you do if your car is broken into? - Economic times

04 March, 2010

Suppose you have gone out for lunch or for meeting someone and upon return, you discover that the window of your car is broken and your car stereo or some other valuable accessory is missing. Such a break-in/theft which has become quite common nowadays - can not only leave you feeling insecure, but can also be a drain on your finances.

Here are a few tips to handle a break-in:

Call the police and file a complaint
As soon as you discover a break-in, call the police and file a complaint immediately.

However, while doing this, keep your entire license, registration, insurance-related information on hand while reporting the break-in. Make a list of all the items that have gone missing and hand them over to the police. File the FIR and get a `non-traceable certificate from the police because your insurer will insist on this certificate, says Ajay Bimbhet, managing director, Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Ltd.

Contact your car insurer
The next step would be to contact your car insurance company and inform them of the theft. Fill out the claim form and retain a copy for yourself so you know exactly what has been put down on paper. If you have full comprehensive car insurance coverage, damage to your car will most likely be covered under your motor policy. However, do not expect the insurance company to pay for the personal items left in the car, as they will only cover those (electronic/ electrical accessories) mentioned in the policy, says Bimbhet.

Don`t make a claim in certain cases
It is better not to make a claim in certain cases. For instance, don`t bother to make a claim if your deductible as per the policy is higher than the cost of replacement of the damaged part. Voluntary deductible, in fact, is the sum that you agree with your insurer, that you will pay for any claim you make against your policy, and your insurer will be responsible for the rest. You can lower your policy premium by agreeing for a high voluntary deductible amount

Lock your steering wheel
Lock your steering wheel. Though this can be a tad time consuming, it`s a simple system that can hinder potential thieves, because even though these can still be broken into, it would take some time to break or unlock a steering wheel implement. These extra seconds or minutes might spell the crucial difference between thieves running off with your car or getting caught by authorities.

Take adequate coverage for accessories
If there is any accessory (electrical / non electrical) fitted in the vehicle, adequate coverage of insurance should be taken immediately to reduce financial losses.

The electrical or electronic accessories fitted to the vehicle, which are not included in the manufacturer`s selling price of the vehicle, are to be insured in the package policy, which can be done separately. We, for instance, are changing an addition premium of 4% on the value of such fittings to be specifically declared by the insured in the proposal form and/or in a letter forming parts of the proposal form, says Vijay Kumar, head of motor insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.

Take precautions
You also need to take some precautions to avoid a break-in. For instance, you should ensure that all the window glasses and doors are locked properly before you leave the vehicle in the parking lot. Also, ¿don¿t leave expensive electronic items (iPod, GPS, laptops) in plain sight. Bear in mind that a thief somewhere could be observing your every movement and also what you have, and may disappear with your valuable contents once you are gone,¿ says Bimbhet. Therefore, take out all important documents. Leaving important documents in your car, either out on the dash or hidden in a glove compartment, could be a recipe for disaster.

Avoid parking in a poorly-lit area
If you want to avoid a break-in, you should first avoid parking in a poorly-lit area or parking lot. Always try to park in a highly trafficked and well-lit area, if possible.
Also, make it a practice to park near other cars and away from dark corners of a parking lot. Remember that thieves will be less likely to commit a crime in the brightest area of the parking lot.