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You’ve been a victim of vehicle theft. Now what?

Feb. 6, 2023
3 mins
A person presses a push-start button in their car

This article has been updated from a previous version.

The number of stolen vehicles in Canada has increased over the past couple of years. In 2022, there were more than 8,000 reported vehicle thefts in Toronto, Ontario, alone, up from 5,600 in 2021. Over time, thieves are getting more sophisticated.

As technology advances and keyless fobs have become the standard, small-time thieves and organized crime rings have caught up by using a device to boost the fob’s signal and steal vehicles without setting off alarms or breaking into homes. They often ship the vehicles overseas as quickly as possible, which makes them harder to track down.

Some insurance companies have even responded to this trend by offering free anti-theft tracking technology to customers with certain high-risk vehicles.

Many victims report their vehicles being stolen right from their driveway while the keys are inside the house. Thieves now have the tools and knowledge to reprogram a vehicle’s key recognition, allowing them to unlock a car with the key they bring.

While this can be discouraging, there are ways to prevent your vehicle from being stolen, as well as steps to follow if you’re a victim.

How to prevent vehicle theft

You can avoid becoming a statistic. Here are a few tips to prevent theft from occurring:

  • Always lock your vehicle and close any windows.
  • Install a vehicle immobilizer system.
  • Remove any valuables each time you leave your vehicle.
  • Put in a third-party alarm system.
  • Use a steering wheel or brake lock.
  • Park in a locked garage or well-lit area.
  • Install security cameras outside your home.
  • Put a tracking device in your vehicle that sends a signal to the police or a monitoring station in case of theft.

You can also put your fob in a metal box or radio-frequency identification (RFID) sleeve and avoid keeping it near the front door. One thing not to do, however, is to put your fob in a freezer or microwave, which can damage it or stop it from working completely. The cost to replace it can be hundreds of dollars.

What to do if your car has been stolen

If your car is stolen, there are a few key steps you should take. Tanisha Kishan, a RATESDOTCA expert and chartered insurance professional, recommends the following:

  1. Contact your local police and file a police report.
  2. Contact your insurance broker or company to advise them of the theft and verify if you have theft coverage.
  3. Open a claim with your insurance provider. Most insurance companies will allow you to report a claim 24/7 to make the process easier.

If you’ve purchased specified perils, comprehensive coverage, or all perils coverage, Kishan says you should be covered if your car is stolen. (Read up on the differences between specified perils and comprehensive coverage).

In the event you rent a car that ends up being stolen in Ontario, your insurance company will pay reasonable expenses for the rental of a similar substitute vehicle.

“These costs won’t be covered until 72 hours after the theft has been reported to the insurance company or the police,” Kishan explains. And there will be a maximum payment unless you purchased the OPCF 20 endorsement (transportation replacement coverage for collisions or thefts). The limit would then be the amount purchased.

Does a stolen vehicle claim affect your insurance premium?

Kishan says filing a theft claim won’t affect your insurance premium. However, living in a city or neighbourhood with a higher theft rate will result in higher overall premiums in the area.

People who own certain vehicle brands or models may see higher auto insurance rates since thieves tend to target them more. To save yourself a hassle, you might want to avoid the 10 most stolen vehicles in Canada the next time you find yourself shopping for a car.

However, if you are loyal to one of the cars or trucks on this list, make sure to compare auto insurance quotes to ensure you are getting the best rate.

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Craig Sebastiano

Craig Sebastiano is an award-winning writer and editor with more than a decade of experience in journalism, marketing, and communications. He’s written about a number of financial topics, including investing, real estate, robo-advisors, mortgages, credit cards, pensions, taxes, insurance, RRSPs, and TFSAs. Craig’s work has appeared in MoneySense, Morningstar, Benefits Canada, Advisor’s Edge, Job Postings, and Ryerson University Magazine. He has completed the Canadian Securities Course and is an avid do-it-yourself investor.

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