Vehicle theft is on the rise. After dipping in 2020 during the pandemic, insurance fraud watchdog Équité Association estimates that roughly 80,000 vehicle thefts took place across Canada in 2021, a 1% increase from the year before. And in Toronto alone, data from The Toronto Police Service show vehicle thefts are up 42% year over year.
The reasons vary, whether due to the approximate 29% of car thefts in Saskatchewan that occur when keys are left in the vehicle, or carjackings, like this year’s incident in Brampton, it’s something that car owners need to be aware of.
Vehicle theft costs everyone when it comes to car insurance
Let’s start with the impact vehicle thefts can have on your wallet. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a vehicle is stolen every six minutes in Canada, on average. And this auto theft costs Canadians millions of dollars each year.
As these thefts increase, experts are warning this upswing could increase car insurance rates across the sector. Rather than being primarily focused on individual drivers, most of the concern is that rates could rise across the board as claims increase. If your vehicle is at a higher risk of being stolen, it could have an impact on your auto insurance rate, as could simply living in a neighbourhood where your insurance provider has paid out a lot of theft claims.
Prevention-wise, your insurance company may have its own guide to avoiding a theft. All that advice boils down to three key takeaways: protect yourself as best you can, make sure you know what your insurance policy covers when it comes to theft, and be prepared to file a police report.
How to protect yourself from car theft
But what actions should you take when protecting yourself from car theft?
The Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) recommend the following:
- Take your belongings with you when you leave your car
- Make sure you have an alarm system (and that it works)
- Install a GPS tracker (which can help you locate the vehicle should it be stolen)
- Lock your car
Similarly, the IBC recommends installing a tracking or immobilisation device to reduce your risk, while also suggesting less obvious strategies, like keeping your key fobs in a “protective box or bag that blocks the signal,” similar to an RFID-blocking wallet that can protect your credit card information from being stolen.
Will my auto insurance policy cover vehicle theft?
The short answer is: not automatically. You’ll be covered for vehicle theft only if you have a comprehensive car insurance policy. This coverage is optional and different from collision insurance, which protects you in the event of a single- or multi-vehicle collision and goes beyond the mandatory third-party liability insurance you’re required by law to carry.. If you already have an additional policy, make sure to check if it does cover theft.
If you do end up needing to make a claim for a stolen vehicle, your first step is to report the theft to police. Your insurance company will require a police report. From there, you can begin your claim. Check with your provider to see what options they have in terms of placing a claim online or over the phone.
In the meantime, be mindful of how to prevent vehicle theft. It will help ensure you (hopefully) won’t have to make such a call to your insurance provider anytime soon.
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