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What to do if your car or van is stolen

Here’s hoping that you are never in this situation, but if you are facing the fact that your vehicle has been nicked, here’s what to do.

  1. Contact the police
    Do this straight away. Unless the theft is happening at that moment, call 101 (their non-emergency number) instead of 999 and ask to be put through to your local police station.

    The police will need to know your car’s registration number, make, model and colour. They will also give you a crime reference number (keep hold of this; you’ll need it.).

    Don’t worry about telling the DVLA at this point; the police should do this for you. They should also let the DVLA know if they find your vehicle.
  2. If you are still making payments on the car, keep paying them!
    Yes, it’s horrible to have to make payments on a car which you don’t even have in your possession but you should keep up with your payments. The seller will, of course, still need to be paid as they have sold you the car. The insurance may settle this but until that is sorted, keep paying. If you stop and get behind, this will show up on your credit record and look bad in the future.
  3. Contact your insurance company
    You’ll need to let them know your crime reference number. They should be able to advise you on making a claim. Depending on your coverage, you may be able to get a courtesy car while you are without a car.

    If they pay out and your car is later found, the car will be theirs. You should be paid according to what the car was worth on the market at the time it was stolen i.e. what you could have got for it if you’d sold it.

    Sometimes claims can take a while to settle but bear in mind that your insurance company has to make an offer within three months under the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).
  4. If your insurance company coughs up, contact the DVLA.
    If your insurance company pay then fill out V5C/3 section of your V5C certificate. Translated, that means filling out the ‘notification of sale or transfer’ section on your car’s registration certificate. This needs to be sent to the DVLA with a letter giving the details of your insurance company and letting them know when the payment was accepted. The rest of the V5C goes to your insurer.

    It’s possible that the insurer will ask for your whole V5C certificate. In that case, just send the DVLA a letter including your insurer’s details and the date of the claim, vehicle’s registration number, make, model and colour, and your signature.
  5. Get a refund on your vehicle tax
    If it’s been longer than a week and your vehicle still hasn’t been recovered, there is some good news. You get to apply for a refund on your vehicle tax.

    Do that by contacting the DVLA and getting the necessary form (V33). Fill it out (include your crime reference number) and send it here:

    Refund Section
    SA99 1AL
  6. Be prepared to pay recovery costs
    If the police find your vehicle and recover it, be aware that, as the owner of the vehicle you’ll be charged for recovery costs and potentially storage costs. This is based on a government-set pricing matrix>and the cheapest recovery cost you can expect is £150. You may be able to claim this back on insurance, but depending on your excess it may not be worth it.
  7. Keep calm and have a cup of tea.
    Make sure that you’re sharing your stress with someone. Talk to your friends. Have a pint at the pub. Make a cuppa and re-watch your favourite film. Even though having a car stolen is definitely stressful and anxiety-inducing, do something to remind yourself that there are good things in life too!

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