Stolen Car Rental: How to Protect Yourself and Your Rental Car

PUBLISHED ON May, 10 2023


Car rental is a convenient and popular option for travelers who want to explore new places at their own pace. However, rental cars are also a prime target for thieves, and stolen car rental is a growing problem in the industry. As of 2021, the total number of rented cars around the globe was 29.2 million. According to Hertz, 0.014% of its rentals are reported stolen each year. Thus we can assume that 4,000 rental cars are stolen every year. If you’re planning on renting a car for your next trip, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to prevent theft. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the stolen car rental, how it happens, and what you can do to protect yourself and your rental car. We’ll also discuss the responsibilities of rental companies, what to do if your rental car is stolen, and how rental car insurance can help cover the costs of stolen car rental.

Key Takeaways

  • Immediately report a rental car theft to both the local authorities to obtain a police report number and to the rental car company to initiate their internal processes.
  • Review your rental agreement carefully to understand your financial liability in case of theft, and if personal car insurance coverage is inadequate, consider additional options like CDW or LDW to reduce financial risk.
  • Implement preventative measures such as safe parking practices and protecting your keys and belongings to reduce the risk of rental car theft; after theft, file an insurance claim if covered and follow the rental company’s instructions for incident reporting.

Immediate Actions After Discovering Your Rental Car is Stolen

Stolen rental car being reported to the police

Stolen rental car being reported to the police

Realizing that your rental car has been stolen can be a distressing experience. However, swift action and a clear plan are vital. Immediately report the theft to the local authorities and inform the rental car company.

Once you report the stolen vehicle to the police, you’ll receive a police report number, crucial for insurance claims. It’s equally significant to alert the rental car company right after informing the police. This will not only allow the company to facilitate the recovery process but also to start their internal procedures related to such incidents.

Report to the Police

The first step after discovering your rental car is stolen is to report the theft to the local police department. This is a crucial step as it kickstarts the official documentation of the theft incident and can potentially aid in the recovery of the vehicle.

When reporting to the police, remember to specify that the car is a rental and provide as much information as possible, such as the make, model, color, and license plate number of the vehicle. This information will enable the police to file an accurate report and increase the chances of locating the stolen car.

Notify the Rental Car Company

Following the police report, the next immediate step is to notify the rental car company. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Reach out to them through their toll-free number.
  2. Select the appropriate option for reporting a stolen vehicle.
  3. This will allow the company to begin their internal procedures related to the theft.

When contacting the rental company, provide them with all the necessary information, including the police report number. Document the conversation, noting the representative’s name, title, and call reference number. This will be crucial when dealing with insurance claims and potential investigations.

Understanding Your Financial Responsibility

In case of a rental car theft, knowing your financial responsibility is crucial. The rental agreement that you signed when you rented the vehicle will specify your financial liability.

Depending on the details of the agreement, you could be held liable for any damages to the vehicle, including those incurred while it is being driven by a thief. In some cases, without personal car insurance or a protection plan from the rental agency, you might have to pay for the full market value of the stolen vehicle.

Review Your Rental Agreement

The rental agreement, a legally binding document, delineates your obligations as a renter of a rented vehicle. It’s important to scrutinize this document prior to signing it, as it may contain clauses making you liable for any vehicle loss, damage, or theft, irrespective of fault or negligence.

The agreement may also require you to secure comprehensive insurance to cover the possibility of vehicle theft. In such cases, not adhering to these requirements can result in substantial financial consequences. It’s also worth considering options such as collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW) which can limit or even eliminate your financial liability if the rental vehicle is stolen.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Your personal car insurance policy plays a significant role in determining your financial responsibility in the event of rental car theft. Comprehensive insurance is the only policy that covers car theft, which is an important consideration when reviewing your personal auto insurance before renting a vehicle.

If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, you won’t receive insurance compensation, meaning you would have to cover any financial obligations to the rental company yourself. That’s why it’s beneficial to contact your credit card company if you used a credit card to rent a car. Many credit card companies offer coverage for stolen or damaged rental cars, acting as secondary coverage for what the primary insurance does not pay.

How does Stolen Car Rental happen?

Stolen car rental can happen in many ways, and it’s important to be aware of the common methods that thieves use to steal rental cars. One of the most common ways rental cars are stolen is through fraudulent means, where criminals use stolen credit cards or fake identification to rent cars. They then drive off with the rental car and never return it.

Another way rental cars are stolen is through “carjacking,” where thieves forcibly take the car from the renter. This can happen when the renter is stopped at a traffic light, or when the car is parked and left unattended.

Thieves also target rental cars that are parked in public places or in hotel parking lots. They may break into the car and hotwire it, or use a duplicate key to start the engine. In some cases, thieves may even steal the entire rental car trailer or tow it away with a truck.

The consequences of stolen car rental can be significant. The renter may be liable for the cost of the stolen car and any damage caused, as well as any lost revenue for the rental company. Additionally, stolen car rental can result in higher insurance premiums and may even impact your credit score.

By being aware of the risks of stolen car rental and taking steps to prevent theft, you can help ensure a safe and stress-free rental car experience. This includes being cautious when renting a car, using a reputable rental company, and taking precautions when parking and leaving the car unattended. It also means knowing what to do if your rental car is stolen and having appropriate insurance coverage to protect yourself in case of theft.

Prevention Measures

Secure parking for rental cars

Secure parking for rental cars

Prevention measures are important for protecting rental cars from theft. Here are some steps that you can take to help reduce the risk of theft and keep your rental car safe:

  1. Research rental car companies and locations: Look for rental car companies with good reputations and avoid renting from companies with a history of theft or poor security measures. Avoid high-risk areas, such as neighborhoods with high crime rates.
  2. Keep doors locked and windows closed: Always keep the rental car doors locked and windows closed, especially when parked. Do not leave valuables visible inside the car, as this can attract thieves.
  3. Never leave the keys inside the car: Always take the rental car keys with you when you exit the vehicle, even if you are just running a quick errand. Thieves can easily steal a car if the keys are left inside.
  4. Be aware of surroundings: When parking the rental car, choose well-lit, visible areas that are populated with people. Be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity to the rental company or law enforcement.

By taking these prevention measures, you can help reduce the risk of theft and keep your rental car safe. It’s important to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, and to take proactive steps to deter thieves and protect your rental car. With these measures in place, you can enjoy your rental car experience with greater peace of mind.

The Rental Company’s Responsibilities

The rental company has a responsibility to take reasonable measures to prevent stolen car rental and to ensure that renters are aware of the risks and precautions they can take. This includes properly maintaining and securing their fleet of rental cars, as well as training their staff to identify and report suspicious activity.

Rental companies should also have procedures in place for reporting and responding to stolen car rental incidents. This may include requiring renters to report any theft or damage to the rental car immediately and cooperating with law enforcement agencies to recover stolen cars.

In addition, rental companies have a legal obligation to provide safe and well-maintained vehicles to renters. If a rental car is stolen due to the rental company’s negligence, such as failing to properly secure the car or maintain its safety features, the rental company may be held liable for any damages or losses resulting from the theft.

Overall, the rental company plays an important role in preventing stolen car rental and ensuring a safe and positive rental car experience for their customers. Renters should feel comfortable asking the rental company about their policies and procedures for preventing theft and reporting incidents, and should choose a reputable rental company that takes these responsibilities seriously.

What to Do If Your Rental Car Is Stolen?

If your rental car is stolen, you should take the following steps:

  1. Contact the police immediately: Call the local police department to report the theft and file a police report. Provide them with as much information as possible, including the make and model of the car, license plate number, and any distinguishing features.
  2. Contact the rental car company: Inform the rental car company about the theft and provide them with the police report number. They will guide you on the next steps and help you with the insurance claim.
  3. Check your insurance policy: Check your insurance policy to see if it covers rental car theft. If it does, contact your insurance company to file a claim. If not, the rental car company’s insurance may cover the theft. Third party Car rental insurance can provide important protection for rental car drivers who are concerned about theft. In the event that a rental car is stolen, car hire excess waiver insurance can help cover the cost of any excess fees or charges that may be imposed by the rental company.
  4. Follow up with the rental car company: Follow up with the rental car company to ensure that they are handling the situation appropriately. Ask for updates on the investigation and the status of the insurance claim.
  5. Be prepared to pay for any damages or fees: In some cases, the rental car company may hold you responsible for any damages or fees associated with the theft. Make sure to read the rental agreement carefully to understand your responsibilities. If you buy car rental insurance online, the excess amount can be eliminated and reduced to zero for as low as $6.49 per day* to $94.90 for an annual car hire excess insurance.

It’s important to act quickly if your rental car is stolen, as the longer you wait, the less likely it is that the car will be recovered.

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Dealing With Insurance After Rental Car Theft

Handling insurance matters post a rental car theft can be intricate. Yet, knowing how to maneuver through this process can help limit your financial liability. The decision to file an insurance claim depends on the type of insurance coverage you possess. Different types of coverage may come with varying claim requirements and processes..

If your personal insurance policy covers rental car theft, you will need to file a claim with your insurance provider. In cases where your personal insurance does not cover rental car theft, the rental company’s insurance may apply.

Filing an Insurance Claim

If your personal insurance policy covers rental car theft, it becomes necessary to file an insurance claim. The procedure requires you to submit the necessary documents to your insurance provider and follow up until the claim is resolved.

It’s important to maintain clear and consistent communication with your insurance company throughout the claims process. This includes providing any additional information or documentation they request and keeping track of all correspondences. Be prepared to pay a deductible, depending on your insurance coverage.


In conclusion, rental car theft is a serious issue that can cause significant financial and logistical problems for renters. However, by taking prevention measures and being prepared, renters can help reduce the risk of theft and protect themselves against unexpected costs.

Prevention measures such as researching rental car companies and locations, keeping doors locked and windows closed, never leaving keys inside the car and being aware of surroundings can all help to deter thieves and keep rental cars safe.

In the event of theft, renters should contact the police immediately, inform the rental car company and check their insurance policy to understand their coverage and responsibilities. By being proactive and taking these steps, renters can minimize the impact of theft and ensure that their rental car experience remains positive and stress-free.

Overall, prevention measures and preparedness are key to protecting oneself and one’s rental car against theft. By staying vigilant and taking proactive steps to reduce the risk of theft, renters can enjoy their rental car experience with greater peace of mind.

Have a safe trip!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do rental cars have trackers?

Yes, rental cars are commonly fitted with GPS tracking systems by rental companies to monitor the vehicle in real-time. This allows rental companies to keep track of the car’s location.

What happens if my Turo car is stolen?

If your Turo car is stolen, you should file a claim for Turo to manage, and their investigators will work with you and law enforcement to try to recover your car, which may take up to 30 days from the time they receive the police report.

What should I do immediately after discovering my rental car is stolen?

Immediately report the theft to the police to obtain a report number, and then inform the rental car company as soon as possible. the earlier, the better.

What is the significance of the rental agreement in the event of rental car theft?

The rental agreement is significant in the event of rental car theft as it outlines your responsibilities as a renter and defines your financial liability. Make sure to review it carefully before renting a car.

How does insurance play a role in rental car theft?

Your insurance coverage greatly affects your financial responsibility in the event of rental car theft, so it’s important to review your coverage before renting a vehicle.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I buy a plan for just one day?

Yes. Insurance for a single day is available.

Can I buy a plan for part of my rental only?

No. We provide a single journey plan. You are covered from the time you pick up the rental car up to the time you return it or on the last date written on your Certificate of Insurance, whichever comes first.

Can I buy a plan when I pick up my rental car?

No. You should purchase a policy before starting your travel.

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