What Happens if Stolen Car Is Found After Insurance Payout?

April 11, 2024

Over 1 million vehicles were stolen in the United States in 2022. The most popular targets were pickups and SUVs from various brands, although thieves were not averse to sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks.

As a car owner, the first thing you consider after buying a vehicle is insurance. But do you know what happens if your car is stolen and never found or if a stolen car is recovered after settlement?

It’s no surprise that provider policies differ and so does the process in question. Some may return the recovered stolen vehicle for a specific compensation while others may consider the recovery of stolen vehicles only after their retrieval by law enforcement. There is also the possibility that insurance-recovered vehicles can become the property of the provider and be resold on the secondary market.

But what happens when your car is stolen and then found wrecked? And what if it’s recovered after you receive the payout? These questions worry almost every car owner who faces severe stress while dealing with stolen and recovered vehicles.

Today, let’s consider a number of important questions, such as:

  • What do I do if my car is stolen?
  • Can theft recovery cars be insured?
  • How long does a stolen car investigation take?
  • What happens if your car is stolen and never found?
  • What happens when your car is stolen then found wrecked?
  • What happens when your car is stolen and recovered?
  • How to recover a stolen car
  • What are the consequences of buying a car that was stolen and recovered?
  • How long does it take police to find a stolen car?

Now, without further ado, we present you a detailed guide to dealing with stolen and recovered vehicles insurance-wise.

During the Process of Filing a Claim, What Happens if My Vehicle Is Found and Recovered?

Let’s start with the basics, namely the step-by-step guide explaining what to do when your car is stolen.

First, you need to understand if your policy covers theft recovery. Then, you must report the incident to the police. The next step is to inform your agent about the problem and see if further action is needed.

 An infographic explaining step by step what happens if your car is stolen and then recovered

Source: MyChoice

Stolen car recovery stories can end differently than expected. That’s why your further actions depend on the results of the search efforts. You should immediately notify your agent if you are informed that your car was stolen and recovered successfully. If you have already received compensation or a replacement vehicle, you may still wonder: “My car was stolen and recovered. Do I have to take it back?”

First, you have to consider the сondition of your car. Suppose a thief got your car stolen and totaled. Then, it was left behind and recovered by the law enforcement. In this case, some insurance companies can consider buying the stolen and totaled car from you.

If you have not yet received compensation or your case is under review, the algorithm changes slightly. When the recovered stolen cars are undamaged, owners can retrieve their vehicles from the impound lot. However, if the car requires repairs after being stolen, you should contact your insurance provider and find out if your policy covers the restoration cost.

If your vehicle is purchased on credit or leased, that’s a whole other scenario. In this case, you might find yourself wondering: “If my car is stolen, do I still have to make payments? More often than not, you won’t have to; your insurance will compensate the lender for the car’s value.

But the “how long” factor is ever present.

How Long Does It Take To Recover a Stolen Car? And Other How Longs

There’s no denying that recovering a stolen car is never a sure thing. This process can take months. The same answer can be given to other related questions, including:

  • How long does it take for a stolen car to be in the system?
  • How long until insurance pays for stolen cars?

Interestingly enough, the chances of getting a stolen car back are quite high, as about 50-80% of stolen vehicles get recovered.

Here’s another popular question we often get about stolen and recovered vehicles, “If a car is reported stolen, what happens? As we mentioned before, the chances of getting stolen car back are quite high, so you can expect positive results from the investigation over time.

As a stolen car owner, the question that probably worries you the most is, “How long after a car is stolen will the insurance company pay?” The standard claim payout falls within 30-40 days. However, keep in mind that multiple factors can influence the payout process.

Does the Value of a Car Decrease After It Has Been Stolen?

Every owner of a stolen car has many questions about related expenses. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • What happens when your car is stolen and then found with no insurance?
  • How does the status of a stolen and recovered car affect its value?
  • What happens when a stolen car is recovered before settlement?

Buckle up! Here’s what we know about settlements and expenses related to stolen and recovered vehicles.

Issue #1. The stolen car is recovered after the payout

Imagine your stolen car is recovered after settlement. Here’s how to get a stolen car back:

  1. When your car is stolen and then found, damages are assessed.
  2. If the car is stolen and recovered with no damage, the vehicle is sent to the impound lot, where the owner can retrieve it by providing proof of ownership.

Issue #2. You wish to reject a stolen and recovered vehicle

Can I reject my stolen recovered car?

Yes, you can reject it.

Issue #3. You need to understand the stolen car recovery process

What happens when a stolen car is recovered?

It is inspected, and its condition is assessed. If a stolen car is recovered damaged, the insurance covers the costs of its full restoration (considering the condition at the time of insurance and depreciation).

Issue #4. Your stolen car is found after insurance payout

Several scenarios are possible:

  1. Do you still have to make payments on a stolen car? If so, you can reclaim the vehicle.
  2. If the insurance has already paid out all compensations, the vehicle becomes the property of the insurance company.
    • If you want to buy back the vehicle, you return the compensation to the company.
    • If you received a replacement vehicle, the insurance may:
      • Sell the vehicle if it’s in proper condition
      • Salvage the vehicle if it’s non-repairable
  3. If settlements are under review:
    • You can close the claim and request compensation for repairs.
    • You can close the claim and retrieve the vehicle.
    • You can receive compensation for damages or destruction of the vehicle.

Issue #5. Your stolen car was found, and you don’t know what steps to take

If you’re losing sleep over your stolen and recovered vehicle, thinking: “My stolen car was found, now what?” The good news is you have several options:

  1. Reclaim it
  2. Sell it directly from the impound lot
  3. Use compensations if the stolen car is found years later
  4. Leave stolen recovered cars with the insurance company (if you were provided with a new vehicle or compensated for its value).

Who Owns the Items That Were Found Inside a Vehicle That Was Recovered?

There’s no denying that the worst-case scenario is when your car gets stolen and is never found. Let’s examine this question more thoroughly: “What happens if my car is stolen and not recovered?”

In reality, there’s no need to worry. An insured vehicle – the one with comprehensive coverage – implies at least some kind of compensation. You may either get the vehicle back or be compensated for its value. But what about the items that were in the stolen car?

Suppose your car was stolen from a repair shop and then was returned. In this case, all items found in the vehicle belong to the immediate owner. However, in most cases, car insurance doesn’t cover items inside the vehicle.

Comprehensive car insurance covers vehicle theft as well as damage caused by a break-in ( smashed windows, for instance). However, it does not cover personal things stolen from within your vehicle. To stay on the safe side, your personal belongings should be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance policy.

Looking for information about car insurance? CoverExplore has you covered.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a correlation between having your car stolen and your no-claims discount?

Of course, after contacting the insurance company about your car theft, you will lose your No Claims Bonus (NCB). However, if you haven’t made any claims or requested compensation before, your premiums will be higher than if you didn’t have any bonus.

Does insurance cover motor vehicle theft?

Certainly, yes, if you have a comprehensive policy. Please note that this applies specifically to car insurance, as other policies do not cover damages or losses to motor vehicles. So, if you’re concerned about your vehicle, insure it.

What happens if your vehicle is discovered prior to its insurance payout?

Nothing; the payout process will be interrupted, and you’ll be able to retrieve the vehicle from the police impound lot. In this case, you’ll need to undergo a technical inspection and cover the repair costs if the vehicle has been damaged.

What should you anticipate if your vehicle is recovered?

All you have to do is make sure it’s undamaged. If you’ve already been compensated for its value or provided with a new car, retrieve your personal belongings from the interior and trunk, as it will become the property of the insurance provider. However, you can repurchase your car if necessary.

Victoria Berezhetska

Victoria Berezhetska is a Content Lead at Phonexa.com and an expert contributor to CoverExplore. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with extensive working experience as a PR specialist and content writer. At CoverExplore, she helps customers find the right educational material through easily digestible blog posts and buying guides backing their insurance coverage choice. Victoria covers diverse topics around digital and insurance marketing, including auto, home, health, and life insurance.


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