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Does your car insurance cover personal belongings?

car thief

The weather has finally started to cool down, almost every building and mall has their decorations up, not to mention the fact that almost every store is blasting not only Christmas music, but also the AC! That's right, it's the holiday season in Hong Kong and many of us have started to visit the stores buying gifts for loved ones and friends. Regardless of what you purchase, there is a good chance that at some point you will be storing your purchases in your vehicle. This can be tempting for thieves, and should something be stolen from a parked vehicle you may find yourself wondering whether it is covered by your car insurance policy and how you can prevent it from happening again.

 

Is theft of personal items covered by your car insurance?

It really is not a fun thing to come back to your car to find that a window has been broken and some personal items are missing. It could be your latest purchases for Christmas gifts or even items you leave in your car on a regular basis such as phones or other mobile devices. You would think that by having theft coverage included with your comprehensive or third party motor policy means that these items are covered, but you would be wrong in this case.

That's right, in almost all cases, personal items left in vehicles that are subsequently stolen are not usually covered by your motor policy regardless of the type of coverage you secure.

The reason why is that the theft benefit included in motor policies only covers the vehicle and components installed by the manufacturer or declared as part of the vehicle when you purchase your vehicle.

That's why, should something be stolen from your vehicle and say a window broken during the theft, your policy will cover the replacement of the window but it won't cover the actual thing stolen (unless it was part of your vehicle e.g., the factory-installed stereo).

 

What type of insurance policy covers my personal items?

While your motor policy doesn't cover your personal items in your vehicle that are stolen, there are a couple of different policies that will: renters and home insurance. Both of these policies are designed to cover your personal effects should they be damaged or destroyed.

The interesting thing here is that the vast majority of home insurance plans will cover your items anywhere including outside of the house. The key here is that you will need to inform your insurer about your personal belongings when you sign up for the plan.

It is also important to note here that while home insurance policies do cover your personal belongings, many policies have a set limit as to how much they will pay out should something be stolen or damaged, with some policies also only covering a certain percentage of the value of the items stolen.

This means that it is important to ensure you are aware of the policy details and coverage information before you agree to a plan.

 

How can you prevent things being stolen from your car?

Beyond that, it would also be a good idea to take measures to ensure that you minimize the chances of things being stolen from your vehicle in the first place. Here are 5 things you can do.

 

1. Try not to leave anything valuable in your car

The vast majority of theft of items from vehicles is opportunity-based. What we mean by this is that a thief will usually walk by a vehicle, see something valuable and act to take it. Therefore, it would be a good idea to remove all valuables from the vehicle when you park it.

 

2. If you do have to leave something in your car, know the best places to store it

It's not always possible to remove your personal items from the car every time you get out. If this is the case, then try to hide your valuables out of sight. This could include putting things under a newspaper/towel, under the seat, in the glovebox, or even the trunk. Should you be parking your vehicle in an area known for theft then it would be best to lock your items in the trunk of your car should you need to leave them.

 

3. Don't leave windows open

With Hong Kong's climate, it can be tempting to want to leave your windows open a tad when parking your car. In truth, thieves with the right tools can break into a car with open windows surprisingly easily, even if the window is open only a few centimeters.

Therefore, it would be a good idea that if you are going to park in a public parking lot, or on the street, you ensure that your car's windows are closed. One warning here is that if you are going to leave pets, or people in your car while you say run into the store quickly, it would be a good idea to leave a window somewhat open.

 

4. Always try to park in a secure parking lot

This might seem like common sense, but parking in a secure lot is one of the easiest things you can do to minimize the chance of your car being broken into. These lots will usually be well lit, covered by cameras and have parking attendants/security watching the lot. Beyond that, if you do park in a secure lot and your car is broken into with things stolen, it is highly likely that insurers will be able to settle claims quicker.  

 

5. Consider installing an anti-theft device  

Finally, it could be a good idea to consider installing an anti-theft device if your car doesn't already have one. These devices come in a variety of different models with some that will simply sound an alarm should the car be bumped or parts be broken when it is parked, to others that will not only sound an alarm but also disable the vehicle should it be moved.

As we mentioned above, most theft of personal items from vehicles is opportunity-based and usually done in haste, so if a thief goes to break a window or even tries to open the door, an alarm sounding is more than likely to scare them away or minimize how much they take.

If you would like to learn more about securing insurance for your personal items at home and in your vehicle, contact Kwiksure today.