Fortunately, many vehicle owners today are fitting a tracking device into their cars (it is often a condition of their car insurance policies). This significantly increases the chance of recovering a stolen vehicle before it is broken down or sold abroad. However, if your vehicle has been hijacked and recovered, you cannot simply turn up, claim the car and drive away. In collaboration with Hippo.co.za, we look at the various procedures that need to be performed before you can take the car back into your possession.
It is advisable to report your stolen vehicle to the police as soon as possible. Provide them with your licence plate and vehicle information (VIN) numbers so that they can issue a description of your car. You should also inform your Car Insurance provider that your vehicle has been stolen. If you have comprehensive car insurance, they might pay you the current value of the car to replace it. This means that the money paid to you might be far less than the amount you purchased the car for.
If your car turns up, the investigating officer handling the case will inform you that they have found it. You will be instructed to come in and identify the car at the police impound lot where you will be required to present proof of ownership such as title, registration or bill of sale.
Your car may have sustained damage that may make it unroadworthy. When you notify your insurance company that the car has been recovered, they will send someone to assess the damage. The car will either need to be fixed or completely written off. In the case of the former, the insurer will obtain a repair quote from a panel beater. Your comprehensive insurance policy will then enable you to take your car to a repair shop, selected by the insurance company.
When your car is finally ready to leave the repair shop, you must get clearance from the police before it can be safely returned to your driveway or garage. For this you need to apply for a police clearance certificate. You may obtain a ‘request for police clearance’ form from your local licensing authority. Take the forms, along with supporting documents and your car, to the SAPS Clearance Unit – which fills out the forms and grants clearance status to the vehicle. Submit the forms to the licensing authority so that they can mark it as cleared on their systems.
What Happens If The Stolen Car Is Recovered After Insurance Company Pays the Claim?
It is possible that your car insurance will have paid for your claim and you’ve already bought a new car when your old car is recovered. Since the police will contact you directly, it is your duty to notify the insurance company and inform them where they can find the vehicle. The insurance company will take ownership of the vehicle as described in the subrogation release you signed. Depending on the insurance, they may also ask you if want to have your old car back if undamaged and return the claim payment.