We wish we didn’t need to write this article, but sadly nasty criminals live amongst us in T&T and the statistics show there are over 5,000 cars stolen each year. It can be difficult to think clearly and logically if this happens to you but having guidelines and sets of steps can help immensely.
1. Make sure your car has really been stolen.
It sounds silly, but we’ve been there: standing in the spot you’re sure you parked in, panicking, feeling the cold sweat of dread, then remembering you actually parked on the next block in Port of Spain, or one level up in the parking garage in the mall. So take a minute, breathe, and think. Another possibility: your car’s been wrecked (those guys move fast!). You might save yourself some heartache and paperwork if you check the police impound before making a stolen vehicle report.
2. Call the police.
If you haven’t misplaced your ride, and you haven’t been towed, your car might actually be stolen. In that case, call or visit the nearest police ASAP (the sooner the more likely your car will be recovered). You’ll need to file a police report in which you tell them everything about your car: the VIN and Chassis number (now would be a good time to write it down and keep the info anyplace but in your car), your car’s make and model, and where you last had your vehicle. If you have a tracking device, like Car Search, give the police that information as well. Once you’ve made the police report, be sure to keep a copy of the report certificate on file (you’ll need for your insurance claim).
3. Call Shyft.tt (or your insurer directly) and report your car stolen.
I don’t need to make a claim as I don’t have Comprehensive coverage. WRONG! Report your car stolen no matter what type of motor insurance policy you have: your insurance company will need to know you aren’t in possession of your vehicle. What happens after you report the car stolen to your insurer depends on what kind of insurance policy you carry.
Now, Third Party insurance policies won’t include reimbursement for a stolen vehicle. Remember, this cover will only reimburse medical expenses and repair expenses for the other party–and that’s pretty much it. If you want insurance coverage for your vehicle if you’re at fault, or if your car is stolen, vandalized, damaged – you need Comprehensive motor insurance which Shyft.tt can assist with.
If you have a Comprehensive policy, there are different levels of coverage from each insurer but rest assured your stolen vehicle will be treated as an insured peril. However, having comprehensive insurance doesn’t guarantee an immediate payout to what the vehicle was valued for, so be prepared for some delays. First, the insurance company will investigate. The hard truth is that the vehicle owner is the number one suspect when a car is stolen, so the insurance company will have to rule out fraud before they pay a claim. Second, some insurers impose a waiting period (anywhere from one to five weeks) to see if the stolen vehicle is recovered before paying your claim.
If everything checks out, you’re looking at a total loss claim, and your insurer will reimburse you for the actual cash value (ACV) of the car: how much you paid, minus depreciation. You’ll then receive payment for the ACV minus your deductible. Keep in mind that the ACV is negotiable: insurance adjusters usually begin at the low end of a vehicle’s value, so arm yourself with research (you can find good ACV calculators from using used car sales websites like www.trinicarsforsale.com. It is always good practice each renewal to make sure the vehicle sum insured is accurate to what you paid less standard depreciation. Call Shyft.tt Sales team to help you with this.
4. Report the car stolen to Licencing Office
The T&T Licencing office keeps a database of stolen cars and often works with the police to reunite a recovered vehicle with its rightful owner.
5. Take matters into your own hands.
If waiting for the police proves too difficult, you can try searching for your car online, in places like car selling forums. It might be a long shot (especially if you have a pretty common make and model like a Nissan B14 or Mitsubishi Lancer), but finding your stolen car for sale online isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Finally, if you haven’t already, take a moment to cry, cuss, stomp the floor—it helped when you were a kid and something unfair happened, and it’ll help now, too. And keep this number in mind: success rate of recoverable cars is less than 15% each year…which is mostly contributed to the quick used car stripping of parts.
Have any other tips or suggestions for victims of car theft? Tell us in the comments below!