Your car is gone. Your heart jumps into your stomach. A million things run through your head. Maybe you parked on the next block over? Maybe you were only towed? What if it was stolen?

On average, there were about 350 police-reported motor vehicle thefts per day in 2008, totalling over 125,000 incidents, according to Statistics Canada.

When cars are stolen, personal items in the car are rarely recovered. Even if the car is found, your stuff is usually gone. Your auto insurance policy covers you for the damage or loss of your vehicle - not the items inside. Wallets, CDs, laptops, sports equipment, sunglasses are all considered "property" in the insurance world.

So what happens to your stuff inside the car if it's stolen?

If you don't have property insurance, then you are responsible for replacing any items in the car on your own.

If you do have home insurance, you end up making two claims - one on your auto policy for the loss of the car and one on your property policy for all your personal items. If you have both your car and your home insured with the same company, some insurers will only make you pay one of the deductibles. If one of your policies has a higher deductible than the other, you'll usually have to pay the higher one. This is a feature you may want to investigate before choosing your home and auto insurer.

What if you don't own a house? Can you still get property insurance?

Definitely! In fact, everyone should have property insurance. It doesn't matter if you don't own a house; condo owners and people who are renting can, and should, still get property insurance for their belongings inside their home.

See the article "The not so obvious reasons renters need tenants insurance" for more information.

Please Note - Some insurance companies have different rules about what is covered and under what circumstances. The above information is for general reference only. Please check with your insurance provider for exact coverage rules and regulations.
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