What Should You Do If Your Car Gets Stolen Overseas?

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 23 December, 2022

Having your car stolen overseas can be anxiety-inducing, but it’s not the end of the world by a long shot. Here’s what you need to know about such situations and how to protect yourself

Road trips and driving holidays offer a special type of enjoyment, making them a popular form of travel. However, driving around on your own also means taking on the risk of having your car stolen or yikes, hijacked.

While it can certainly be a downer, meeting with a car theft while overseas needn’t completely derail your entire holiday. Here’s what you should know in such situations and how to deal with it.

If the car stolen was your own

You take a road trip up to Malaysia, driving your own car. Alas, your car was stolen by thieves when you arrived in the city.

What you should do is make a police report – preferably within 24 hours upon discovery of the theft – and then file a claim against your motor policy.

Provided that 1) your car insurance plan covers theft and 2) you did not flout any of your motor policy’s terms and conditions (such as driving outside of covered geographical regions; motor policies issued in Singapore usually cover West Malaysia and 80 km into Thailand, but no further), your insurer will assess your claim and furnish you with a payout equivalent to the fair value of the vehicle..

You must also prove that you were not negligent or careless – such as by parking your car in an unauthorised facility – and thus, reasonably not at fault for the theft.

In most cases, vehicular theft is a pretty straightforward occurrence; there aren’t many ways a car can simply go missing, and thus there is nothing really for your insurer to investigate.

Don’t go expecting to buy a brand new identical model fresh off the assembly line with your insurance payout.

The “fair value” of the vehicle, as evaluated by your insurer, may not fully match up to the market price of your car, which means you may have to bear some out-of-pocket expenses.  

Related to this topic: What to Look for in a Car Insurance When Driving to Malaysia

If the car stolen was a rental

If the rental car you were driving while holidaying in Europe gets stolen, the process is largely the same. You’ll need to make a police report, and inform your rental car company of the theft.

However, you will be on the hook for insurance excess. In some cases, you could even be liable for the full replacement cost of the vehicle.

Ok don’t panic – cars in other parts of the world are much, much, cheaper than in Singapore, so you are unlikely to get slapped with a six-figure bill.

The devil, as they say, is in the details. It may sound reckless but apparently, you can rent a vehicle in certain parts of the world without theft protection! Thankfully, that is the exception rather than the norm, and the vast majority of rental companies include theft protection by default.

But it’s worth noting that theft protection only covers the cost of replacing the vehicle, and you will still have to foot the excess charge on the insurance plan.

Hence, it is worth considering purchasing a rental vehicle excess cover, which will relieve you of this financial obligation.

Other than making a police report and paying the excess – if applicable – there’s nothing else to be done if your rental car gets stolen while on holiday.

Related to this topic: What Insurance Plans Should You Get for Cross-country Driving?

Can I claim for loss or damage to personal belongings in a car theft?

Your personal belongings or luggage may have been in the vehicle when the thieves drove it off. Or maybe they dumped your bags into the canal before fleeing with your car. Can you claim benefits for these items?

Yes, you can, and in fact, there are a few options available to you. One, if your motor insurance policy covers personal belongings and property, you can submit a claim under that benefit. But, the coverage may be limited in scope and benefits, as motor insurance policies are mainly designed to cover the car and its users.

Another (possibly superior) option would be your travel insurance policy – but only if you’ve paid for Baggage Loss or Damage coverage. Most travel plans include this by default, but do be aware that some insurers leave this as an optional benefit.

Travel insurance plans pay for the loss of covered items arising from any reason, as long as it took place outside of Singapore. So even if your backpack was lost due to car theft, you should be able to receive reimbursement.

What about injuries or personal liabilities?

If the thieves decide to straight-up hijack your car while you’re in it, it is possible that you and your passengers could suffer some injuries during the altercation, especially if assault were involved.

Your travel insurance policy will cover the costs of any medical treatment required, even though the underlying cause was a car theft.

However, that doesn't mean you should try to fight off the hijackers, no matter how much you love your car. The potential for serious or even fatal injury is never worth it.

Another possible scenario that could result is that the car thieves took your car for a joyride, abandoning it after crashing into a shopfront window.

You may wonder if you would be held liable for the damages suffered by innocent third parties.

Well, that is highly unlikely, as you were not operating the vehicle then. Hence, there’s usually no cause for worry in regard to third-party liability in vehicular theft.

Read these next:

What Does Travel Insurance Actually Cover? (and Best Plans for Cruises, Flights and Road Trips)

Driving to Malaysia in 2023: The Ultimate One-Stop Guide

What To Do If You Get into an Accident With a Foreign-registered Vehicle

Singapore-Malaysia Land Border Reopening: What You’ll Need Before Driving to Johor Bahru

What to Look for in a Car Insurance When Driving to Malaysia

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

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