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A home break-in and robbery are terrifying experiences likely to leave you feeling angry and vulnerable. After all, your home is your sanctuary — the place where you expect to feel safest, and where you expect your belongings to be safe as well.
Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies cover repair costs for property damage caused by a home break-in as well as the loss of your personal property due to theft. In fact, the coverage could extend beyond your home to other buildings on your property, and even to other locations where you store your belongings.
Here’s what you need to know about full coverage home insurance and theft:
- Does homeowners insurance cover theft and break-ins?
- Does homeowners insurance cover car theft?
- What to do after a break-in or burglary
Does homeowners insurance cover theft and break-ins?
The specific coverage provided by your homeowners insurance depends on the type of policy you have. But even the most basic form of home insurance — such as an HO-1 policy — covers a list of named perils that includes theft and vandalism. This helps protect your personal belongings as well as the home itself.
The most common type of homeowners insurance — HO-3, or special form — covers all perils, including theft and vandalism, not specifically excluded from your policy.
Four types of coverage within your homeowners policy protect you in the event of a burglary:
- Dwelling: Dwelling coverage pays the cost of repairing your home if it’s damaged during a break-in or attempted break-in. For example, if the burglar damages a window or door, the insurance carrier will pay for the repair or replacement.
- Personal property: If a thief steals your personal property, your personal property coverage will help pay the cost of replacing it. Belongings damaged in the course of the theft are also covered.
- Other structures: Your home isn’t the only structure your homeowners insurance covers. The policy also protects detached garages, sheds, and other buildings on the property that might suffer damage during a robbery.
- Additional living expenses: If the criminals who break into your home vandalize it so extensively that it’s not inhabitable, additional living expenses coverage will pay for temporary housing and necessary living expenses while it’s being repaired.
The second is your policy limit, which is the maximum amount your insurer allows you to claim. In the case of a home break-in and theft, you’re unlikely to reach your limit for dwelling and other structures coverage, but you might reach it for personal property.
Personal property coverage is usually limited to 50% to 70% of your total insurance on your home, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Valuable items such as jewelry, electronics, and art have their own limits, which can be increased with an endorsement or rider known as scheduled personal property coverage.
Does homeowners insurance cover car theft?
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover vehicle theft. For that, you need a separate auto insurance policy with comprehensive coverage. However, your homeowners insurance does cover the theft of personal property stolen from your car.
Comprehensive auto insurance protects against theft of the car itself as well as permanently installed equipment, such as the stereo. It doesn’t cover personal property stored in your car, such as a laptop.
What to do after a break-in or burglary
The most important thing to do after a break-in or burglary is to call the police. If you return home and see evidence of forced entry, call them before you enter. Request a copy of the police report to share with your insurer.
Next, walk through your home to try to identify what has been stolen or damaged in the break-in. Photograph any damage you see, but don’t throw damaged items away until the insurer says it’s OK.
File a claim
With a copy of your insurance policy in hand, contact your insurer to verify your coverage and deductible. You might not know your exact damages at this point, but you should have enough information to know whether your monetary damages exceed your deductible.
If you decide to move forward with a claim, your insurer will guide you through the process. You can work with a representative over the phone or file your claim online.
Go back through your home to identify anything you might’ve missed the first time. Then, flesh out your list with details about the missing and damaged items.
Provide proof of loss
Most insurance carriers require a “proof of loss” when filing a personal property claim. This is a legal document that explains what’s been damaged or stolen and how much money you’re claiming for the loss. You’ll need documentation to support the proof of loss, essentially showing that you owned the item and can provide evidence of its value.
Documentation that qualifies for proof of loss might consist of:
- Original receipts and invoices
- Bank and credit card statements that show the purchases
- Instruction booklets with makes and model numbers
Missing information and improperly completed paperwork are common reasons why insurers reject a proof. Rejection will delay your claim, so be sure to follow your insurer’s instructions carefully.
Theft of your property can be devastating, especially if the theft resulted from a home invasion. While homeowners insurance can’t erase the emotions surrounding such an event, it can minimize your financial loss and help ensure that your items get replaced.