Car theft in Canada: Are you covered?

Did you know that on average, a car is stolen every six minutes in Canada?1 Shocking, right? But don't let the risk of potential car theft scare you. There are many ways you can protect yourself from the impact of a car theft. But how? Well, let’s go over everything from how car theft can impact you, how your insurance can help, what cars are more likely to be stolen, to what in the world you should do if you look out your window and your car is no longer there.

How does car theft impact Canadians?

Well, on average, car theft has a $1 billion dollar impact on Canadians every year — $542 million of which was paid out by insurers to repair or replace stolen vehicles, while the remaining costs went to policing, correctional services, court systems and healthcare.2 We know, these costs may be hard to believe. But if you've been following social media and news outlets, you've probably noticed what seems like an increase of stolen vehicles in and around your community, all of which contribute to this grand figure. And while contrary to what some people may think, as the technology in everyday cars advances, the greater the impact it's having on car thefts. Let's consider a car with a modern feature like a keyless entry fob. This is a common feature in most new car models that car thieves can actually take advantage of. How? Well there's a new device that thieves can use to capture the signal between the key and the car and use it to unlock and steal vehicles. Believe it or not, it looks as easy as it sounds, too. How can you avoid this from happening to you? We'll talk about this in the question below.

Is there anything I can do to deter car thieves?

Although there is no way to guarantee a thief from targeting your car, there are definitely ways you can discourage them. Here is a list of things you can do to reduce your risk of being a victim of car theft.

Is my car covered if it gets stolen or vandalized?

In the unfortunate event that your car gets stolen or vandalized, your car may be covered depending on the specifics of your policy. In order to be covered against car theft, you would need to have opted in to one of these three options:

  1. Specified Perils: This coverage protects your car against loss or damage from specific hazards like hail, windstorms, fire and theft/attempted theft, just to name a few.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage: This will cover you from loss or damage that's not covered by Collision coverage such as all the specified hazards mentioned above, plus a little extra. You'll be covered for vandalism and falling objects, too.
  3. All Perils: You'll get the best of both worlds — this option offers a combination of Collision coverage AND Comprehensive coverage.

What do I do if my car was stolen?

Your car is not where you left it and you suspect it’s been stolen. You need to contact your local police (not the emergency line) and fill out a police report. Next, if you're unsure, you'll want to confirm if your car is covered for theft. If you do have any of the optional coverages listed above, you'll then want to get in touch with your insurance provider to start a claim. And if you’re a TD Insurance customer, we've made the process of making a claim as simple as possible, by providing the option to start your claim over the phone or online. It's as easy as downloading the TD Insurance app or logging into TD MyInsurance and following the steps to start your claim. And since incidents like this can't be predicted, we have you covered at all times — you can report a claim 24/7.

What do I do if my car is vandalised or broken into, or someone attempted to steal it?

If you wake up one morning to the sight of your car broken into or vandalized in any way, the first thing you want to do is contact your local police station and fill out a police report. Remember, your local police will have a different number than the emergency line. Take lots of pictures of what happened to your car and make a list of any items taken. Then, if you have the proper coverage (Comprehensive or All Perils), reach out to your insurer and make a claim.

Will insurance cover valuables that were stolen from my car?

For most car insurance policies, if the items are physically attached to the stolen car (e.g., roof racks, stereo, tires), the answer is yes. But you will only be covered for the Actual Cash Value, which reflects the stolen items' current condition and age. However, for personal items that you'd leave in the trunk of your car or the latest tech purchase you just made at the mall, the answer would be no, at least from a car insurance perspective.

But that doesn't necessarily mean you're out of luck and out of options. Your next step is to contact your home insurance provider and check if your personal items would be covered. Your home insurance may provide you with coverage based on the Replacement Cost of your valuables. That means for each of your stolen personal items, you'll receive a new item of similar kind and quality. But keep in mind that any claim you do make will be subject to your deductible. However, in some cases, if your car and home insurance is bundled with the same company and you're making a claim on both your insurance policies at the same time, for the same reason, you may only have to pay a single deductible. Something else worth considering: Any home insurance claim you make will likely result in an increase to your annual home insurance premium. Unless your policy includes Claim Forgiveness of course, in which your first claim shouldn't impact your rate when your policy renews. Here's a quick tip: Consider doing a quick evaluation to weigh out your options — if your stolen personal belongings are not big-ticket items, you may want to replace them yourself rather than opening a claim.

How does a claim for theft or vandalism affect my rates?

On top of worrying about your stolen car, you now must also be wondering if your insurance rates will increase because of it. Depending on the province you live in, filing a claim for theft or vandalism could impact your rates; however, the impact would typically be much less than if you were to file a claim resulting from an at-fault accident. So, although filing a claim may affect your rates (province dependent), it should not necessarily be a reason to avoid doing so.

What happens if my vehicle is later recovered?

If your car is stolen, there is a possibility it will be recovered. Most insurance companies will have a waiting period to see if it turns up before offering a settlement for the stolen vehicle. If the car is recovered before your claim is settled, however, and you notice it's been damaged, you can still go through the process of making a claim to repair the damages. If the damaged car is recovered after your claim is settled, no action is required on your end since the ownership and responsibility of the car will have already been transferred to your insurer.

Are some cars more susceptible to getting stolen?

You may be thinking exotic cars make the top of this list. Perhaps because of its rarity and high price tag … or because of movies you've seen on the big screen. And while luxury cars may be targets for some thieves, the cars that are most susceptible to theft in Canada are the everyday cars that many of us drive. This could be because of the convenience-factor for thieves, or because their car parts can be flipped to sell to unsuspecting customers, among many other possible reasons. If you're curious to see if your vehicle may be a target to car theft, check out the list of the top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles each year.


Sources:

1. http://www.ibc.ca/sk/auto/theft

2. http://www.ibc.ca/on/resources/media-centre/media-releases/tech-savvy-thieves-dont-need-your-keys