Both “Robo” (robbery) and “Hurto” (burglary) imply the fact of seizing someone else’s property. Most people associate both terms with theft. But as it turns out, there is a legal difference, in that in a robbery there is violence, threat or force to achieve that purpose.

Image from Traveling Bytes

For this article, I will focus on the difference when dealing with insurance, where the difference is simple: in Hurto, there is no type of violence or intimidation when it comes to wanting to take over someone else’s property.  For example, it would be Robo if the offender forced the door of a house, and Hurtot if the thief found it open and stole from you.

Why is it so important to understand the difference?

For simplicity’s sake, I am using the differences from the Mapfre website, one of the major insurers in Costa Rica.

For example, in home and vehicle insurance policies, the actions between Robo and Hurto have different treatment.

Virtually all insurance companies cover damage caused by Robo. However, it is highly advisable to carefully read the clauses to confirm that and what is covered.

Policies that cover Robo also tend to be responsible for damages or economic losses caused by it. That is, if the doors or windows have been broken, the insurance company assumes the cost of the repair.

More: Avoiding Home Invasion in Costa Rica – Keep Your Home Safe From Thieves

On the contrary, it is common for insurance companies not to cover Hurto, since it involves negligence or carelessness on the part of the insured.

In the case of a vehicle, the Robo guarantee is a specific product that insurers offer and is usually associated with other products, such as third-party liability. It is quite common that, in general, insurance is contracted to third parties with an extension of coverage.

We must read the policy well and inform ourselves about what it covers; if, in addition to Robo, it includes Hurto.

A thief trying to break into car with screwdriver.

For example, it is Robo if your vehicle was broken into and its contents or entire vehicle stolen, and is most likely covered; but Hurto if you left the vehicle open or keys in the ignition, and may not be covered.

In short, we must be clear about the difference between Robo and Hurto, something essential when contracting insurance and knowing the extent of coverage.

Typical elements of a Robo are taking money or property directly from someone, without permission, with the intent to keep the property permanently and through the use of force or intimidation.

In Hurto the typical elements are illegally entering a building (usually a home or business) with the intent to steal something or commit a theft while inside.

Although Hurto often involves theft, a person doesn’t have to steal anything. Robo, on the other hand, almost always involves theft—taking something from the victim.

One thing’s for sure: you don’t want either to happen to you.