The Rising Threat of Vehicle Theft: Protecting Your Ride in Ontario
It's hard to ignore the alarming news and stories about Ontario's increasing car theft incidents. Recent statistics reveal that a car goes missing every 48 minutes in the province, and the numbers keep climbing.
According to a concerning report by The Globe and Mail, Canadian auto insurers suffered a staggering loss of over $1 billion last year due to stolen vehicles, with car thefts in Ontario alone surging by nearly 50 percent. This alarming rise in thefts can be attributed, in part, to the involvement of organized crime rings.
How are these thefts happening? Unlike random crimes of opportunity, many of these thefts are targeted acts. Perpetrators have become incredibly sophisticated in gaining vehicle access, and the time it takes to steal a car is diminishing.
Today's modern key fobs emit signals that communicate with vehicles. Unfortunately, tech-savvy thieves have devised devices capable of scanning homes to locate key fobs. Once they detect the signal, they transmit it to an accomplice who's strategically positioned near the targeted vehicle. This enables them to gain access or even make off with the stolen car.
Shockingly, many of these stolen vehicles are stashed away in storage containers and kept in storage facilities for days or even up to a month. The thieves do this to check if any tracking devices are present on the vehicle. If they find none, they often ship the stolen vehicle out of the country, making recovery nearly impossible.
What impact does this have on the insurance industry?
The surge in vehicle thefts translates to more claims insurance companies have to settle to cover the losses. Many of the vehicles targeted are newer, high-value, and larger models. Consequently, the settlements for these claims are significantly higher than those for minor fender benders. As a result, insurance premiums tend to rise across the board to cover the increasing cost of losses among policyholders.
Several insurance companies have implemented measures to tackle the escalating costs associated with these thefts. Some have introduced a surcharge for vehicles deemed at high risk of theft. However, they also provide an opportunity to remove this surcharge if policyholders install or use specific anti-theft technologies or tools to safeguard their vehicles.
Here's a list of vehicles identified as high-risk for theft across multiple insurance companies (please note that the exact list may vary by insurer):
- Any vehicle with an MSRP or stated value of $125,000 or more
- 2016 models and newer of the following:
- Acura RDX
- Chevrolet/GMC Silverado and Sierra 1500
- Dodge Ram
- Ford F150
- Honda CR-V
- Land Rover/Range Rover
- Lexus RX300-500
- Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler
- Toyota Highlander, Tacoma, and Rav 4
While this list isn't exhaustive, it clearly highlights the higher targeting rates for these vehicles compared to others.
What can you do to protect yourself (and your rates)?
Each insurance company maintains its list of vehicles subject to the surcharge and specific options for surcharge removal. These options may vary among insurers but commonly include installing the TAG system or providing proof of steering wheel locks, brake pedal locks, or wheel and tire locks.
Though it's impossible to completely eliminate the risk of theft, there are general steps every vehicle owner can take to reduce the likelihood of falling victim:
- Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a locked or secure garage.
- Secure your vehicle's onboard diagnostic port using a readily available device to prevent thieves from reprogramming your key fob.
- Deter theft by using a steering wheel locking device.
- Consider investing in an aftermarket GPS tracker, as it can aid in the recovery of a stolen vehicle. Many insurance carriers support the TAG system.
- Keep your vehicle key fob inside a radio frequency shielding bag/pouch to block cell signals when not in use.
- Enhance security by purchasing a high-quality video surveillance system and ensuring your cameras are strategically placed and operational 24/7.
- Make it a habit always to lock all doors and windows when entering or exiting your vehicle.
- Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running, even for a few seconds. Always turn off the ignition and take your keys with you.
Numerous options and products claim to safeguard against auto theft or assist in vehicle recovery. However, not all these options or products are recognized by insurance carriers as sufficient for removing applicable surcharges. If you're uncertain, please don't hesitate to contact us for further guidance.