We get asked this question a lot: Does my car insurance cover me if I leave my keys in my car?

And it’s a good question because it happens a lot: According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, nearly 98,000 vehicle thefts occurred in 2020 alone with the vehicle’s keys left in the car.

And the answer is generally yes … IF  you purchased comprehensive car insurance, your car will be covered against theft, even if you left your keys in the car.

Otherwise, no.

This is particularly an issue in the winter months when many people leave their cars ‘warming up’ with the engine running in their driveway or office parking lot.

It’s obviously an attractive target for car thieves, who don’t even have to risk the time it takes to hotwire the car. They can just break the window  (if the door is even locked), hop in, and drive away.

Auto theft with keys in car

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau. Used with permission.

Contents coverage

There are three layers of coverage you should be aware of in this situation: Vehicular coverage – which covers everything factory-installed on the vehicle, and contents coverage, which refers to any personal belongings you lost because you left them in the vehicle when it was stolen.

Car insurance is designed to just cover the car itself – and any custom parts or features you declared to the insurance company prior to the loss that is included on your insurance contract. If you have any after-market custom parts modifications on the car, click here for more information on how to ensure those add-ons against theft.
Most car insurance policies provide very limited coverage, if any, to your personal effects in the car. So if your car is stolen with your gee-whiz MacBook Pro computer in it that you rely on to earn your living, or with jewelry, musical instruments, firearms, or any other high-value items inside, most car insurance policies won’t cover those items.

They would normally fall under your homeowners or renter’s insurance policies.

That can be a problem, especially for homeowners, because deductibles can be very high.

And if your car has custom parts or modifications, those parts or that extra value won’t be included in a stock, off-the-shelf car insurance policy. Just like you have a modified, custom car, you should have a modified, custom car insurance policy to adequately protect it. Otherwise, you could be grossly underinsured in the event of theft, vandalism, or collision.

“Mr. Insurance” Tips on Leave my Keys in My Car

Install a Club or other clearly-visible anti-theft device. These are great deterrents and can encourage would-be opportunistic thieves to keep moving and find an easier target.

Invest in a GPS device. If your car is stolen, you and the police are more likely to be able to locate it quickly, before the thieves can do too much damage. A GPS device hidden in the car may also help police find the “chop shop,” where thieves strip stolen vehicles for parts to sell on the aftermarket.  Which can help break up theft rings in your area and reduce overall crime.

Get comprehensive coverage. If you live in an area where you frequently find yourself letting your car warm up with your keys in the car, you’re at a higher risk of theft.

Prevention is the best policy. Even if you have comprehensive coverage on your car when it’s stolen with the keys inside, it’s likely that your future car insurance premiums will increase after the theft. And the theft of your car also causes upward pressure on every other car insurance policyholder in the neighborhood. So it makes sense to do everything you can to deter, prevent, and mitigate car theft.

What To Do Now

The best thing to do at this point is to have a professional independent car insurance agent run some quotes for you from all the best carriers doing business in your state – including comprehensive coverage.

In fact, if you’re in one of these colder areas, you already know roads get icy, and snowy, foggy, and wintery conditions decrease visibility and make driving more hazardous.

You should probably look at increasing your liability insurance and adding collision coverage to your policy. The state minimum liability insurance coverage is never sufficient to protect you and your family against the economic fallout of a major accident — especially if someone is injured.

If you’re only carrying the state minimum of $5,000 to $15,000, and you get in a wreck and total someone’s F-150, and/or God forbid cause someone an injury requiring hospitalization, you can be sued for the difference.

And they’ll win.

This can result in judgments, wage garnishment, asset seizures, and bankruptcy.

So don’t skimp on liability insurance, either.

For a free, n0-obligation, and no-nonsense set of quotes from a highly-experienced, knowledgeable car insurance professional who knows how to structure a policy, click here, and fill out the form. Or call us.

Either way, let’s think through your risks, and make sure you’ve got the coverage and financial protection you need for any eventuality!

Drive safe, and I’ll see you on the road!

Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig

CEO, Select Insurance Group

For Further Reading

Is Comprehensive Coverage Worth It? 

Worst States for Car Theft

Does Car Insurance Cover Theft or Break-Ins?