Vehicle thefts skyrocket as insurance industry takes notice

Vehicle thefts have skyrocketed in recent years, along with auto thefts, and in addition to some victims enduring the trauma of a sometimes violent event, many car owners may be paying the price in auto insurance premiums. higher.


  • Auto thefts are up nearly 30% in 2021 over 2017, according to NICB data.
  • Most carjackings are now committed by minors who can sometimes be part of a larger ring of junkyards or use vehicles for drive-by shootings, the NICB found.
  • Data from some major US cities saw increases of more than 200% in auto thefts in the last two years, with New York seeing a 286% increase.
  • Car thefts contribute to increased insurance premiums.
  • Comprehensive policies cover auto theft while strict liability Policies don’t.
  • Insurers offer tips to help prevent theft or repossess a vehicle, such as installing anti-theft devices and not leaving the vehicle title registration in the car.

Car thefts are rising at alarming levels in US cities.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which studied trends in several US cities and analyzed them, stated in recent testimony before the US Senate, “Simply put, the numbers they are amazing”.

According to NICB CEO David Glawe, who testified on March 1 in a listening Before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Federal Support to Prevent and Respond to Vehicle Thefts, New York experienced a 286% increase in vehicle thefts between 2019 and 2021.

New York is not an anomaly. Philadelphia saw a 238% increase in vehicle thefts over the same two-year span, Chicago 207% and Washington D.C., by 200% in the last two years. Glawe noted that in 2019, DC had 142 carjackings, but in 2021 there were 426 carjackings in the nation’s capital.

New Orleans and Denver also saw big jumps as cities across the US and even some suburbs report more carjackings, according to Glawe.

NICB, which collects data on car thefts nationally and in many local jurisdictions, said in a press release break free accompanying Glawe’s testimony that auto thefts nationwide are up 16.5% in 2021 compared to 2019 and nearly 29% compared to 2017. The numbers are also increasing year over year, from 2019 to 2020 and from 2020 to 2021.

Glawe also noted in his testimony that underage suspects outnumbered adults by more than two to one and are used to provide parts for salvage yards as well as providing cars for anonymous drive-by shootings. NICB is calling for more community-based policing to prevent carjackings, which can escalate into other crimes, new bail laws, and more enforcement. Restorative justice has also been an option.

Auto theft, including vehicle theft, contributes to higher premiums

Auto thefts are a subset of auto thefts and contribute to more auto insurance claims, which can increase policy prices in areas where they occur.

Robert Passmore, vice president of auto policies and claims at the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association, said based on NICB data, auto thefts hit their highest level in a decade in 2020.

Passmore said that, in fact, there are also reports that incidents of vehicle theft, a type of auto theft, have increased dramatically in several cities. Insurers care first and foremost about the safety of all motorists, he said. Investopedia. “These trends are very concerning and are one of many factors affecting insurance costs,” Passmore said.

However, the most significant factors affecting the cost of auto insurance remain the cost of bodily injury and damage claims related to crashes and weather events, he added.

Auto insurance rates are generally rising now for many reasons, including supply chain issues, labor shortages and inflation, according to a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute. Sadly, deaths they are up too. More car thefts and fraud are also hitting auto insurance rates, which are under pressure and now back to pre-pandemic levels, according to Triple I.

Auto thefts increased 9.2% in 2020, after declining in the previous two years. For more information on the most stolen cars, see here, but they generally include popular Japanese models and trucks. Luxury cars such as Mercedes, which are used as a “bait car” provided by the NICB in a New York Auto Theft Task Force law enforcement operation, are used primarily for fun rides.

NICB has partnered with local and federal authorities to help stop auto theft rings or activities. For example, the organization helped San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies last year identify 11 stolen vehicles and their respective insurance interests after deputies stopped a vehicle pulling a trailer loaded with auto parts. The vehicle itself had been hijacked.

federal auto theft statute He says the obvious cost is reflected in rising car premiums, but people are also paying the cost by spending money on anti-theft devices and off-street parking to protect their vehicles.

Tips to reduce risk offered by experts

car insurers like geico , Allstate and even universities offer consumers and campus residents a host of tips to thwart car thieves.

These include obvious safety measures like locking the car even while driving, closing the sunroof and removing valuables, getting into the new vehicle quickly, being cautious especially at night, and purchasing anti-theft devices, which can lead to discounts from the insurance company. insurance. Visible and audible security devices are often a deterrent, much like a vehicle’s VIN number etched into window glass. Allstate suggests installing a GPS-enabled tracking system.

However, if you are confronted by a car thief, armed or not, don’t fight back, it is better to lose the car than to get hurt or killed, all the experts agree. “Unlike auto theft, auto theft involves a violent confrontation with a criminal or the perceived threat of violence that could result in death or serious bodily injury,” the NICB state.

While most thefts are committed by professionals or young people exploited by professionals to be dismantled in junkyards or even exported to other countries, there are people who enjoy luxury vehicles, according to Geico.

The insurer is also warning drivers about hit-and-run car thieves, intentionally creating a crash at a traffic light and then taking the vehicle as the driver exits to check for damage. Insurers and public safety officials advise drivers to stay alert at red lights and leave room to maneuver around the vehicle in front when stopped.

Texas A&M University, which issued a newsletter on carjackings, he acknowledged that “experts say women are more likely to be attacked than men because thieves think women will put up less of a fight.” While car thieves are more likely to target solo drivers, they also sometimes threaten those with small children because they often don’t see them when they approach the vehicle.

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