If my auto insurer paid off my stolen car but then the cops found my car, do I need to return the money?

UPDATED: Jan 9, 2012

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If my auto insurer paid off my stolen car but then the cops found my car, do I need to return the money?

Asked on January 9, 2012 under Insurance Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your insurance carrier paid off a claim by you for the theft of the car that you had by paying you a settlement check for its fair market value and the car is subsequently recovered by the police after payment, you do not have to return the settlement proceeds paid by your insurance carrier.

Rather, your insurance carrier now owns the recovered vehicle. If you want the vehicle back, you can negotiate with your insurance carrier to purchase title to the vehicle of your former car (at a significant discount from the settlement proceeds) if you desire assuming the recovered car by the police has some value to you.

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