The name says it all really. If someone wanted to collect insurance money on their car could they leave it somewhere with a high crime rate with keys in ignition and a sign that basically invites a theft of the car to collect the insurance? So long as they don't actively arrange for someone they know to do the theft would they be able to collect insurance on the car, even if the agency knew what they had done?

  • Is the question, "Will insurance pay a claim if I was negligent in protecting my property?" Because in this particular example, even if insurance would cover damage you don't get cashed out if the car is recovered and not totalled. And you can't rely on a thief to "total" a car that he steals. In practice, the best-case insurance pay-out is supposed to be what you could have earned by simply selling the car. So what's the motivation for this?
    – feetwet
    Feb 17, 2017 at 18:35
  • 1
    This isn't an answer, but in Texas it's against the law to leave your keys in the ignition when unattended. You could be complicit in that case. I'm not completely sure how you could explain the keys being in the car to the insurance company.
    – mark b
    Feb 17, 2017 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


What you are describing may be the crime of insurance fraud: to avoid that, you would have to admit to the insurance company that you put a "Please steal me" sign in an unlocked car with the keys in the ignition, in a high-crime area. If we remove some of the elements of the scenario and reduce this to "leaving the keys in the ignition", this would probably be be considered contributory negligence, meaning that you failed to act prudently to protect your property. This can reduce the amount that the insurance company has to pay you. At this point, it depends on what state you're in, since sometimes a little bit of negligence (in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia) means that you may get nothing. However, negligence hinges on an assessment of the actions and intentions of a party, and what you describe isn't "neglect", there is the direct intent that the car be stolen. Insurance policies exclude coverage for intentional loss.

So the bottom line would be that the person would be out a car, and could be in prison for fraud if they did not reveal what they actually did. One should assume that the thieves took a lulz video of the sign before they stole the car, and posted it on FaceTube where it entered the viral hall of fame and was used against you in a court of law, so fraud is the worst choice. An alternative if you have a car is to donate it to charity, and take a tax write-off.

  • I want to give this a second upvote just for someone understanding the way the internet and memes work ;) don't worry I'm not planning to do it, just curious to see how the law handles some odd behaviors like this. Thanks for your answer.
    – dsollen
    Mar 3, 2017 at 19:14
  • What if one left a car in a high-crime area where one expected that thieves would be able to steal it without need for a key, and the only "sign" was the manufacturer's badging indicating the car was an "easy-to-steal" model? Something that people who have the misfortune of living in that area and owning that brand of car might be forced to do involuntarily.
    – supercat
    May 27 at 14:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .