Every year, the United States sees far more car break-ins than home break-ins. If your car has been broken into, there are certain things you should do to ensure your insurance claim process goes smoothly. Read on for a list of the steps you should take to move toward recovery after a vehicle break-in.

1. Make sure you’re safe

5 things you should do if your car has been broken into

A woman stands next to a damaged car | Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

Erie Insurance offers some helpful tips on steps to take if you’ve been the victim of a car break-in, and first on the list is to prioritize your safety. That means if you discover someone has broken into your car, you should make sure the perpetrator is no longer in the vicinity before you do anything else.

While most likely the person will have long since fled the scene, if you have any cause for concern, you should immediately get yourself to a safe place where you can contact the police. Your personal safety takes priority over stolen possessions, which you can deal with once you’re safe.

2. Write down what was stolen

When you get into your vehicle, take a close look. What’s missing? It’s unlikely someone would break into your car unless they had reason to believe there was something of value in it to take. Did you leave your wallet in the car? Your phone? Other electronics? It’s important to have a clear idea of what was in your car before the theft so that you can identify what’s missing.

Of course, an even better approach is not to leave such things in your car in the first place. Valuables in plain view in a vehicle make an enticing target for passing would-be thieves.

3. File a report with the local police

Once you’ve identified what’s missing from your car, the next step is to file a police report. You can do so by visiting a nearby police station or calling the local non-emergency number (not 911).

Filing a police report will ensure there’s a record of the crime, perhaps contribute to establishing local patterns of theft, and serve as an important piece of documentation to provide your insurance company. Though the police can’t investigate all cases, they can be on the lookout for your property if they happen to recover it as part of a related case.

4. Protect yourself from identity theft

If your wallet was stolen from your car, take the necessary steps to prevent identity theft from disrupting your life. That means canceling your credit and debit cards and possibly putting a fraud alert on your credit files. Following these steps can prevent the thief from using your identity to open new, fraudulent credit accounts and damaging your credit score.

5. File a claim with your insurance company

Finally, you’ll likely want to file an insurance claim to recoup at least some of the costs associated with the theft. These costs include not only the loss of your possessions but also the likely damage to your car from the break-in.

Theft of possessions from a vehicle can actually involve two types of insurance. The damage to your car itself would be covered under your comprehensive auto insurance policy, while the loss of possessions would often be covered under your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. Make sure you discuss the details of your claim with your insurance agent so that you know you are following all the required steps.

Hopefully, you’ll never be the victim of a car break-in, but if you are, it’s good to be prepared so you can get your life back in order as soon as possible.

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