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after your car is stolen

The FBI estimates that a car is stolen every 42.8 seconds. That leaves thousands of drivers scrambling to find or replace their beloved rides every day. We'll explain how to handle this situation just in case it happens to you.

First, call the police

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The sooner, the better. Let the police know everything about your car, including its make and model, VIN, and roughly when and where it was stolen. If you have a tracking device like OnStar® installed, let them know that, too. There's a chance the device could be used to locate your car before it's too late.

Once you've filed the police report, hang onto it — it'll come in handy when it's time to file your car insurance claim.

Report the stolen car to your insurer and your state DMV

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After you've filed a police report, contact your car insurance company. If you're an Esurance customer, you can report the stolen car online, on your smartphone, or by calling us anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). A dedicated claims rep will help you through every step of the claims process.

You can also contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles since they maintain a database of stolen cars. If a stolen car is recovered, the DMV often works with the police to identify a car's rightful owner.

How car insurance can help

In the immediate aftermath, rental car coverage can help pay for a rental car until your actual car is found or considered lost.

If you have comprehensive coverage on your policy, your car insurer can help pay to replace your lost car. The coverage, which is optional unless a loan or finance company requires it, can pay the actual cash value, or ACV, of your car once you've paid the deductible.

What about your valuables?

If your tablet, smartphone, or laptop was in your car when it was stolen, your renters insurance or homeowners insurance policy could help pay to replace them.

And if you had installed any high-tech enhancements to the car, like a new sound system, customized parts and equipment coverage can protect the upgrades made to your vehicle before it was stolen or vandalized.

Some cause for optimism: the likelihood of recovery

Getting your car back in one piece may seem like a long shot, but stats reflect a surprisingly good chance of stolen cars being recovered. Data from the California Highway Patrol, for example, reveals that of the 174,457 cars reported stolen in 2012, 87.8 percent were recovered.

Related links

Tips on protecting your car from thieves
Learn how to protect your car from would-be thieves.

Comprehensive coverage demystified
Find out more about the coverage that can pay to replace a stolen car.