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Car insurance doesn’t cover Christmas gifts

Des Toups



Stolen gifts and car insuranceHere's one more reason to lock your car in the garage and take a taxi on New Year’s: It’s a car thief’s favorite holiday.

Actually, it’s the cold light of the next day that they love, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports. You’re all about bowl games and hangovers. They’re all about untended 1994 Honda Accords and starting the year on an ambitious note.

The industry association’s analysis of 2010 car-theft data from the National Crime Information Center found nearly 21,000 vehicles stolen on holidays. Last year, 2,347 people were dialing the cops and their car insurance company on New Year’s Day.

No one's sure why, but NCIB spokesperson Frank Scafidi has a theory: Cars left by owners who'd had a few too many.

New Year’s Day is the only holiday that looks like a regular workday for car thieves, the NCIB found. On most holidays, thefts come in well below the annual daily average of 2,124. The lightest holiday is Christmas, when reported thefts fall by nearly half.

Even car thieves have mothers, you know.

Here’s how the holidays ranked in 2010:

  1. New Year's Day  (2,347)
  2. Memorial Day  (2,122)            
  3. Halloween  (2,064)
  4. Labor Day  (2,020)
  5. New Year's Eve  (1,986)
  6. Christmas Eve  (1,928)
  7. Independence Day  (1,914)
  8. President's Day  (1,903)
  9. Valentine's Day  (1,745)
  10. Thanksgiving  (1,605)
  11. Christmas Day  (1,361)

Far more people are worried about smash-and-grab thefts at this time of year, when Christmas packages beckon from the back seat.  And rightly so: The FBI records twice as many thefts of items out of cars as car thefts themselves.

“Gifts wouldn't be covered by your car insurance,” says CarInsurance.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner. “Neither would your laptop, iPod or other personal items you had in the car.”

The comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy covers the broken window (as well as theft of the car itself), but it does not cover anything not permanently attached to your car.

Your homeowners policy might cover items stolen when the car is in your driveway, Gusner says. And it’s possible that the credit card you used to buy the gifts might offer some coverage, sometimes called purchase security. Check your fine print.

But in the end, it's easier to be proactive and make sure to lock the vehicle, hide your hide-a-key in a less-than-obvious place and put your gifts in the trunk.

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