The Christmas season is here which means its time to head out to the local mall and load up on gifts. While the savings may be huge, the losses can also be big if you are unlucky enough to be hit by thieves who prowl the parking lots looking for a big haul. It’s not just presents they are stealing either, your entire car could be at risk.
So what happens if you come out from the mall to find a smashed window and an empty backseat where that new LCD TV was sitting? Will your car insurance cover the cost of the gifts you lost or are you on your own to replace the missing presents and what can you do to prevent the theft from happening in the first place? Here are a few statistics and tips to keep you and your presents safe this holiday season.
Car Insurance Will Not Cover Gifts
Lets get the bad news out of the way right up front. FBI records show that twice as often, thieves steal items from cars rather then the car itself. The Christmas shopping season tends to see a spike in the smash and grab thefts that commonly result in the loss of Christmas presents.
Unfortunately, your car insurance will not cover the cost of replacing your gifts, or for that matter any items you leave in a car such as an iPod, laptop or cell phone. While your comprehensive coverage would pay for the broken window it would not cover the stolen contents. In general, comprehensive does not cover things that are not a permanent part of your vehicle.
If your car was in your driveway when the theft occurred it is possible that your homeowners insurance might offer coverage but it will vary by policy so check with your agent. As a last resort you can also check with your credit card provider to see if they offer purchase security which may cover your losses. This coverage varies dramatically with credit card issuers so don’t count on it replacing the gifts.
Here are a few tips for keeping gifts safe:
- Put all of your gifts and any items of value in your trunk. If that is not a possibility, conceal them as best as you can.
- Always lock your vehicle and roll up all windows when leaving it in the parking lot.
- Car thieves often watch for shoppers that drop presents off and head back into the store so avoid unloading gifts and leaving your car in the same parking spot.
- Do not leave gifts in the car overnight if you do not have a secure garage.
Don’t Lose Your Entire Car
Its not just your presents that you have to worry about, its your entire car. According to the National Crime Information Center roughly 21,000 cars were stolen over the holidays in 2010.
On New Years day alone, almost 2,400 people had their vehicles stolen. In fact, New Years day seems to be the one holiday car thieves don’t take off, on most holidays the rate of car theft drops and on Christmas it is halved. There are no real theories as to why New Years Eve is such a boon for car thieves but some experts speculate that it could be because many people leave their cars after having too many drinks, making them a ripe target for theft.
A few tips for keeping your car safe:
- Never leave your vehicle unattended and running.
- Hide any valuables in the trunk or out of view.
- Have an anti-theft system installed in your car, thieves are often reluctant to steal vehicles equipped with these systems.
- Park your car in a well-lit spot at night.
- Etch your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) into each window, thieves will be reluctant to steal a car if they will have to replace all of the glass.
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