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Installing an anti-theft device can save you from an insurance surcharge

Nov. 8, 2023
5 mins
man finding out his car has been stolen

As the crisis of auto theft and its connection to organized crime worsens, insurance companies are compelled to act. Many have introduced a surcharge on drivers of most-commonly stolen vehicles. But there’s a way to remove the surcharge, depending on your insurer – install an anti-theft device in your car.

Related: Thefts drive up insurance premiums by 25% on most stolen vehicles

What anti-theft devices should you install?

To protect your vehicle against car theft, here are a few options available:

  • Steering wheel lock: A steering wheel lock or club, as the name suggests, locks in the steering wheel, preventing thieves from driving off with the car. Basic models feature a metal rod that locks in the handlebars and prevents it from budging at all. There’s also a lock that connects the steering wheel to the brake pedal, making the vehicle immobile. Newer models of the club include an enclosed case that you snap on your steering wheel. Most of these locks cost between $50 to $100, with some fancier models going as high as $500.
  • Faraday case: Relay attacks are the most common method of burglary. Thieves use a signal booster to replicate the signals of the original key fob (that’s inside the car owner’s house), break in, reprogram the car, and drive off with it. A Faraday case or box blocks these radio signals. Some cities are contemplating the idea of giving out free faraday cases as a way to curb increased auto-theft. Nonetheless, it’s an inexpensive option in the price range of $15 to $50.
  • Tag technology: A leader in vehicle recovery, the Tag system is a Canadian company that has come up with a wireless tracking device that a trained technician installs throughout your vehicle. The technology is more advanced than standard GPS tracker, and the signal in Tag devices cannot be tampered with. It uses electronic identification to help recover your vehicle — even if a thief snaps the vehicle’s cellular antenna or cuts its internal wires. Most thieves are also less likely to target a vehicle with a Tag logo etched on its windows, which can help prevent a theft in the first place.
    Many insurance companies have a partnership with Tag, where installation ($400 in value) is free-of-charge to policyholders driving high-risk vehicles; some of them will only remove the $500 surcharge upon installation of the Tag system.

Lastly, there are other GPS trackers such as Apple AirTags. While they don’t prevent car theft, they can also help in auto recovery, the same way they help in recovery of other items. People have quickly adopted the “hack” of leaving AirTags inside cars to track down their stolen vehicle. In addition to installing an anti-theft device in your car, it might be a good idea to add another layer of protection with GPS trackers. (It’s important to note, however, that if your car is stolen and you’re able to track it with GPS, under no circumstances should you try to recover your car on your own. Instead, alert your local enforcement agency and let them deal with it).

If you’ve installed any of the above devices on your car, you’re not only reducing your likelihood of auto theft, but you may not have to dish out money on any high-theft vehicle surcharge imposed by your insurance company.

The impact of auto-theft on the insurance industry, and what it means for you

Rising vehicle theft not only poses more risk to individual drivers, but also puts added pressure on insurance companies to intervene and avoid replacing high volumes of vehicles for insured customers.

“Insurance premiums are determined by losses,” says Daniel Ivans, insurance broker and RATESDOTCA expert. “When losses increase, insurance companies need to account for those losses, and future trends by increasing premiums.”

And if one particular loss – such as auto theft – occurs often, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to adjust premiums to account for those claims.

Insurance costs include replacing stolen or repairing damaged vehicles, healthcare if the vehicle owner is injured, and judicial costs.

One way insurance companies are recouping their claim losses is by adding a surcharge of up to $500 on the auto insurance policies of high-risk vehicles.

What’s a high-risk vehicle?

The main reason we’re seeing a rapid rise in auto thefts is that the crime is carried out by sophisticated, organized crime syndicates. It starts with thieves identifying low-risk, high-reward vehicles. Équité Association explains that this includes cars that have high profit margins when sold abroad, but the risk of prosecution is considerably low.

The Association complies an annual list of 10 most stolen vehicles in Canada, and their most recent report includes pick-up trucks, luxury cars, SUVs, and new car models.

Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles of 2021

 Ranking Make/model Model year # of vehicles insured # of thefts Theft rate (%) Type
 1 Honda CR-V 2020 469,144 5,620 1.2% SUV
 2 Dodge RAM 1500 Series 2022 508,061 2,600 0.5% Truck
 3 Ford F-150 Series 2020 615,740 1,833 0.3% Truck
 4 Lexus RX Series 2020 93,766 1,815 1.9% SUV
 5 Toyota Highlander 2021 117,663 1,759 1.5% SUV
 6 Honda Civic 2019 705,056 1,493 0.2% Sedan
 7 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2021 120,387 1,349 1.1% SUV
 8 Land Rover Range Rover 2020 34,201 1,343 3.9% SUV
 9 Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 Series 2006 595,816 1,260 0.2% Truck
 10 Jeep Wrangler 2021 132,219 1,189 0.9% SUV

If you drive any of the cars from the above-mentioned list, you can likely expect to hear from your insurance provider soon – the surcharge will be applicable when you renew your auto insurance policy.

Additional incentives offered by insurance companies

Many insurance companies will remove the surcharge if you install Tag or other anti-theft device. Depending on your insurer, there may be additional incentives like free installation and/or a discount on your insurance premium.

Here are some known incentives offered by Canadian insurance companies:

  • CAA will remove the surcharge on your Toyota Highlander if you’ve purchased a steering wheel lock or other anti-theft device.
  • Aviva Insurance offers a 20% discount on comprehensive coverage and will reimburse you for the cost of Tag installation.
  • Gore Mutual forfeits the surcharge if you have Tag installed, offers $100 off Tag installation costs, and a 20% discount on premiums.
  • Intact will forfeit the surcharge if you have Tag (or any approved anti-theft) technology installed, offer $150 off Tag installation costs, and a 20% discount on comprehensive premiums.

Most insurance companies will require proof of purchase to remove the surcharge or confirm the offers. It's always a good idea to check with your insurance provider on what anti-theft technology and measures are eligible.

Review your auto insurance coverage to protect against theft

To better protect yourself against auto theft, consider adding comprehensive insurance, all perils, or specified perils coverage to your policy. A standard car insurance policy won’t cover repairs or vehicle replacement after a non-collision loss like theft. So, even if your vehicle is recovered with Tag technology, repairing any damage that results from the theft would require more extensive coverage.

Before adding coverage to your policy, it helps to compare car insurance rates to find the provider that can offer you the lowest premium. And, if you hope to switch to a provider offering free Tag installation, comparing rates from companies taking part in the initiative can narrow down your search.

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Shaistha Khan

Shaistha Khan is an editor and writer at RATESDOTCA. She is a journalist, writer, and communications specialist with 13 years of experience across the personal finance, business and professional development, oil and gas, and travel and tourism industries. She has worked as a content editor and writer in seven countries, with Canada being the most recent.

She holds a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) and a diploma in Public Relations and Reputation Management.

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