What to do if your car is stolen and recovered

Vehicle theft and carjacking is rife in South Africa and as a car owner it is wise to have car insurance as a contingency. If a car is reported stolen and later gets recovered by the police, the owner needs to be aware of the steps they need to take upon recovering the vehicle.

Here are steps that need to be followed if a car is stolen or hijacked:

  • As soon the carjacking or theft has taken place, the owner of the vehicle needs to report to the police and get a case number which will be used when registering an insurance claim.
  • The insurance company will then send an assessor to interview the owner of the stolen vehicle to get the story of what happened on the day the theft/hijacking took place.
  • Once all the finer details have been sorted, relevant paperwork will be processed and a claim will be processed by the insurer.

Vehicle theft can be traumatic and oftentimes the vehicle owner thinks that recovering the car concludes the process and nothing else needs to be done; however, that belief couldn’t be further from the truth. The owner needs to follow the correct procedure to ensure their insurance claim and reinstatement of the stolen car is done right.

What needs to happen if the car is recovered after being stolen:

  • In an instance where the stolen car is recovered, the investigating officer in charge of the case will notify the vehicle owner that the car has been found. Soon thereafter, the car owner will be asked to go and identify the vehicle at the police impound where it is kept after being recovered.
  • The vehicle owner then needs to inform their car insurance provider that the car has been recovered.
  • Once identified, verified and the investigation has been finalised, the insurer can arrange for the vehicle to be taken to a panel beater to obtain a repair cost quote.
  • A vehicle assessor will be appointed to assess the damage on the vehicle at the panel beaters and put together a report upon receiving a quote for repairs.
  • The insurance provider will process repair requirements for the vehicle based on the assessor’s report.
  • Once the repairs are complete, the registered owner of the vehicle is required to take the car for police clearance.
  • In order to get police clearance, the car owner will have to obtain a printed Request for Police Clearance form from a Motor Vehicle Registration office to verify the car’s record.
  • If the vehicle is deemed irreparable or uneconomical to repair by the assessor, the insurer will have to inform the insured about the write-off process.
  • The vehicle will officially be deregistered at the license department.

There are some cases when the car is found long after a settlement has already been paid out by the insurance provider to the client. The recovered car will become the insurer’s property – this process is referred to as subrogation.

It is also essential to get the best car insurance quote, preferably one that will give you much needed peace of mind, should your car be involved in an accident or get stolen.

Carmen de Lange

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