How Theft Rates Affect Car Insurance Premiums

Auto insurance premiums are higher for often-stolen vehicles and areas where auto thefts occur more frequently.

Auto insurance premiums are higher for often-stolen vehicles and areas where auto thefts occur more frequently.

If you drive an older Honda in Fresno, California, you are probably paying more for auto insurance theft coverage than someone with a newer Honda in San Jose, California. Why? Because your city has one of the highest theft rates -- as does your car -- and the combination affects auto insurance premium rates.

Basis of Auto Insurance Premiums

Auto insurance premiums are largely based on the driver, type of car, and where the car is garaged. The driver’s record, experience and typical commute affect premium rates. The cost of a car as well as accident and theft rates for that type of vehicle make a huge difference. Other factors include deductible levels, age, sex, marital status, and the number of vehicles insured. Your area’s typical repair costs, uninsured driver rates, likelihood of wind or hail damage, number of uninsured drivers and theft rate all play a part.

Theft-Leading Cars and Areas

You might think sports cars or expensive cars are the most popular theft targets, but statistics show that older autos are targeted more because they are easier to steal and there is a huge market for their parts. For example, the 1994 Honda Accord was the most stolen car in the United States from 2009 to 2012. The 1995 and 1998 Honda Civics, 1991 Toyota Camry and 2004 Dodge pickup have all made top-thefts lists too. The good news is that later-model vehicles aren’t joining the ranks because of anti-theft devices. For example, Honda began equipping vehicles with immobilizer systems, and newer models aren’t joining the theft lists. California, Texas and Florida are the top auto theft states. Seven California localities made a recent list of the top 10 theft areas: Fresno, Modesto, Bakershield/Delano, San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, Stockton, Vallejo-Fairfield and Visalia-Porterville. Spokane and Yakima, Washington, and Anderson, Sout Carolina, also made the list. Surprisingly, San Jose made the list of the 10 lowest theft areas.

Theft Prevention Discounts

One way to lower your likelihood of theft is to buy a car with theft protection devices or to install them. They can make a considerable difference. For example, Honda’s addition to models in the late 1990s kept later model cars off the theft lists. Such devices can also reduce your auto insurance premiums. Discounts vary by insurance company and state, but the anti-theft devices insurance companies look for include alarms, steering column locks, steering wheel locks, wheel or tire locks, GPS tracking devices, and starter or fuel disablers.

Other Theft Coverage Considerations

Theft coverage is part on what is called comprehensive coverage on insurance policies. It is not included in a bare-bones policy. However, auto theft insurance only pays the owner the depreciated value of the car instead of the cost to replace it. So, if you are in an area prone to theft and drive an older vehicle, consider the value of adding the coverage to what it will pay if you have a claim.

About the Author

Dyanne Weiss has more than 20 years experience in human resources and corporate communications. Her communications strategies' have aided employee engagement and understanding of health care benefits, retirement planning, performance planning and compensation. Weiss has also worked in several industries: energy, insurance, banking, financial planning and health care. She has an MBA in management and organizational behavior.

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