Theft from the car: the insurance does not always pay

Whether the windows are slightly open or the sunroof open in the summer, whether the car is only unlocked for a short time while paying for gas or the convertible top is left down: some drivers make it easy for thieves. A vehicle should therefore never be left unlocked, even if only for a brief moment to do a little something. Because the insurance does not always cover the damage, because it depends on the circumstances.

The Goslar Institute for consumer-friendly insurance of the HUK-Coburg makes it clear that household contents insurance generally covers items stolen from a car by forcibly opening it. However, this only applies if the insured is not jointly responsible for negligence. And that can be available quickly. Anyone who parks their vehicle in a public space and leaves valuables in it must expect to be compensated only partially or not at all in the event of damage. This includes not only streets and squares, but also public parking garages. If the car is broken into there, the insurer always checks the circumstances and, if necessary, reduces the benefit or pays nothing at all.

Even a properly locked car is no guarantee of getting money if valuables are stolen from the vehicle. For example, the Goslar Institute refers to a judgment by the district court in Frankfurt am Main from 2019, in which objects were stolen from a car, but there were no signs of being broken into (Az.: 32 C 2803/18 (27)). In the case in question, the plaintiff had demanded 3,000 euros from his household contents insurance. Since there was no evidence of forced opening, the insurance company only had to pay compensation if the theft was committed “by breaking into locked motor vehicles”. Although this also included “the use of wrong keys or other tools not intended for proper opening”, i.e. the possible tapping of the radio signal of the original key, the robbed person could not prove afterwards that he had actually locked his car properly.

The court also clarified that the so-called jamming was not covered by the insurance clause. The perpetrators use a transmitter (“jammer”) to block the key’s radio remote control in such a way that the vehicle is not properly locked. A subsequent theft would therefore not take place from a locked car, but from an unlocked one. The insurance company would then not have to pay. HUK-Coburg therefore generally advises not to leave any valuables in the car and to always make sure that the car is actually locked.

It is undisputed that motor vehicle insurers, in the case of partial or fully comprehensive insurance, generally cover the costs of repairing damage to a vehicle that has arisen as a result of a break-in or attempted break-in, such as smashed windows. However, items lying loose in the vehicle, such as mobile phones, cameras, bags and other items, are not insured. As I said, they are covered by household contents insurance. (awm)

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