Who pays if my stolen car causes property damage or personal injury?
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The person who steals my car gets in an accident—entirely his fault. The person he crashes into files a claim for damages and personal injury against my insurance company and me. Will my insurance company pay?”
Asked January 4, 2016
Although many people find it hard to believe that anyone injured in a car accident involving a stolen vehicle in Massachusetts would file a claim against the vehicle's owner instead of the thief driving the vehicle at the time of the incident, anyone injured in an accident can attempt to file a claim with the vehicle owner's insurance company. The thing you need to remember is that the injured party's claim doesn't automatically mean that the worst fears of many vehicle owners will ever happen: It's unlikely that your insurance company is going to hike your premiums because your stolen vehicle was in an accident. It's also unlikely that you will have to worry about you or your insurance company actually paying any money to the injured party.
The next thing you need to know is that "liability" is the most important thing insurance companies look at with this type of accident. Unless there is some question about permission, such as the thief is someone you know who can prove that you allow them to drive your vehicle, you aren't liable for the damages and injuries caused by the thief. Additionally, although drivers in Massachusetts carry four types of compulsory coverage that includes property damage and bodily injury coverage that pay out specific amounts per person and per accident, the coverage only applies when the driver of the vehicle received permission to use it. When a vehicle is stolen, the injured party should seek damages against the thief through the thief's insurance or in court since it was the thief's negligence that caused the accident. Since a thief is automatically considered an uninsured driver, the injured party should also check with their auto insurance carrier to see if they can submit a claim based on their Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto coverage.
The best thing you can do when you become aware of a claim of this nature is speak with your insurance agent to get the answers you need about how to proceed since every accident situation and insurance policy differs. Many insurance carriers provide policyholders with access to legal counsel as well at no additional cost. The insurance company's legal team can help you reduce unnecessary stress by guiding you through the legal elements related to the incident.
Whether your vehicle sustains mild or severe damage as a result of an accident caused by a thief, you shouldn't immediately worry about paying for repairs. Always check your policy. If you have comprehensive auto insurance, it should cover your repairs. If the vehicle is too badly damaged, it should pay you the value of the vehicle at the time that it's determined to be a total loss.
Answered January 8, 2016 by ilawson