How long will insurance take to pay for a stolen car?

One of the worst feelings is realising your car has been stolen. The crime rate in South Africa is high, so theft – or even hijacking – is a potential hazard for any vehicle owner. Having a car stolen from where you parked it is traumatic enough, but it’s even worse if it’s taken in a violent attack on the road. Consulting a mental-health professional after being a victim of crime is advised, to help you work through the stress, anger, fear and other emotions you’re feeling.

Dealing with emotional trauma can be hard work, but at least it’s easy to make sure that car theft doesn’t damage your finances as well. If you have vehicle insurance, you’ll at least have peace of mind knowing that you’ll be paid out the insured value of your car.

As soon as you realise that your vehicle has been stolen, alert your tracking company (if the vehicle is fitted with a tracker) and go to the nearest police station to report the crime and open a case of car theft. This will ensure your car’s details are flagged on the stolen vehicle database. The police will provide you with a case number, which you’ll need for your insurance claim.

Then submit a claim to your insurer as soon as possible – if you can, do it directly after making the police report. Both the police and insurers apply a cut-off date to reporting a theft or submitting a claim – check the specifics of your policy with your insurance provider. However, unless there’s a pressing reason why you can’t – like being in hospital – it’s wiser to report the loss immediately to the police and your insurer. This increases the chances of your vehicle being recovered, and gets the processing of your claim started if it isn’t.

How long does it take before you get paid?

For you to claim, of course, theft must be covered in your car insurance. If your policy is for third-party liability only, for example, you won’t be covered. Many car owners opt for comprehensive vehicle insurance because it removes any uncertainty – you’re covered for loss or destruction of the car by fire, theft or hijacking, damage to the vehicle in an accident (excluding the excess payment) and third-party liability.

We offer drive-me-home services to get you and your car home safely after a night out


However, the time it takes for an insurer to pay out on a claim depends on a variety of circumstances. If the police recover your car undamaged before your claim is processed, they or your vehicle-tracking company will most likely alert you. Inform your insurance provider immediately so they can update the claim. If the car has been damaged but is still repairable, the claim will be updated to repair the damage. If the car is recovered, but it is damaged irreparably, your original claim will proceed.

If the vehicle is not recovered, processing your claim could take up to 30 days. If you have any repayments left on a vehicle finance agreement, your insurance will first pay what you owe to the lender, and the balance will be paid to you. If the payout doesn’t cover the full amount remaining on your vehicle loan, you will have an unfortunate shortfall – you will still owe this amount to the finance company, and you will have to keep making payments until you clear the debt. You can avoid this by taking out shortfall insurance.

Getting a police clearance certificate

If you’re uninsured and you report your car as stolen and it is later recovered, it’s essential that you get a police clearance certificate so that your vehicle information is removed from the stolen-vehicle database. If you don’t and you get stopped at a roadblock, police might believe you’re driving a stolen car, and you’ll have an awkward time explaining the situation.

Happily, being insured takes care of that for you. When police recover stolen vehicles that are insured, they keep them in the police pound until they can be released to your insurer’s insurance recoveries agent. Your insurer will obtain the police clearance certificate when they receive the vehicle, then inspect the car to assess any damage that needs repair. If the car is undamaged, the insurer will return it to you immediately.

What if your car is recovered after the claim has been processed?

The recovered car will be the property of the insurance company, but any items found in the vehicle will be returned to you.

What are the benefits of being insured with Nedbank?

  • You can get cover for private motor cars, motorcycles, caravans and trailers.
  • You can choose between comprehensive, third-party, fire and theft, and third-party-only cover.
  • We’ll cover the costs of emergency repairs and replacing the keys and locks to your vehicle when you have a valid claim.
  • We offer drive-me-home services to get you and your car home safely after a night out.
  • We give you the option of car hire, should you want a vehicle while yours is being repaired, or if it has been stolen. This is available only if you have this cover before the claim.

Applying for car insurance is quick and easy. We do everything over the phone and there’s no paperwork involved.

You can apply online for Nedbank Vehicle Insurance or contact us on 0800 555 111.