A recent article in Canadian Underwriter shone a light on the rising rates of auto thefts in Canada, and the numbers aren’t good. Auto theft expenses are anticipated to reach new heights in 2023, surpassing last year’s records. At the Magnes Group, we recognize the importance of providing accurate information to our clients in Ontario and Quebec.
A fresh report from Équité Association has brought to light an alarming 31% increase in auto thefts in Ontario and a 17% rise in Quebec during the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year.
Auto Theft Rates Climb in 2023
To put things in perspective, in 2022, insurers in Canada disbursed over $1 billion in claims due to stolen vehicles. This increase starkly contrasts the $400 million in 2018, with the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) alone accounting for roughly $500 million, per the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s records.
Our investigation has also revealed the disturbing global nature of the auto theft issue. Out of the vehicles stolen throughout Canada, only 57% are recovered. The figures are worse for Ontario and Quebec, with 46% and 36% recovery rates, respectively.
Recent insights from Équité suggest a global trafficking scheme. Given the low recovery rates, vehicles from Ontario and Quebec are likely either being exported, mainly via the Port of Montreal or having their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) altered for resale within Canada, duping unsuspecting residents.
At a recent National Insurance Conference Canada (NICC) discussion in Quebec, Susan Penwarden, from Aviva Canada, highlighted the speed and efficiency of these theft operations. Vehicles are typically transported overseas within 24 hours, making recovery almost impossible once containerized. This results in about 50% of stolen vehicles being completely unrecoverable due to their exit from the country.
Bryan Gast, a representative of Équité’s investigative services, emphasized the premium nature of the targeted vehicles like SUVs, pickups, and luxury sedans. The Port of Montreal has become the prime location for exporting cars, even those stolen from western Canada.
Gast also highlighted the more significant economic implications – money from auto thefts often gets funnelled into other illicit activities, such as funding terrorism, arms procurement, and drug trade.
On average, claims costs hover around $70,000 for each stolen vehicle, leading to a potential premium surge of about $125 per policy.
Moreover, tampering with VINs has unveiled another profitable avenue for car thieves. Once vehicles are taken, their VINs are used to craft ‘ghost’ vehicles. These fake VINs are then used to get deceptive insurance policies, adding more strain to the insurance system. Aviva’s recent discoveries, aided by information from Équité, are a testament to this rising problem.
How to Avoid Having Your Vehicle Stolen
There are several simple car theft prevention methods you can take to help secure your ride.
Always turn off your car and lock it
Thieves don’t take long to steal your car, so don’t make it any easier for them. Avoid leaving your car running even when running a small errand.
Always take your keys
If you’re brave (or foolish?) enough to leave your car unlocked, do not leave your keys. A dangling set of keys from the ignition is an invitation for theft!
Invest in an anti-theft device
Car alarms are helpful, but they’re just a start. Consider steering wheel locks, protective steering columns, and car-disabling locks for the ignition, fuel, and other systems. An installed tracking system can help the police locate your car if it is stolen.
Don’t add identity theft to the mix
Avoid leaving your driver’s license, car registration, or other personal documents in the vehicle. If a thief steals your ride, you don’t want them to have your government ID details.
Park in well-lit areas
Visibility is a car thief’s worst enemy. They want to avoid being spotted and identified, so they’re less likely to mess with a parked car under bright lights.
Make your car a towing headache
Turn your wheels toward the curb (unless parked uphill) and pull the handbrake to make your car much less mobile. This tactic could deter thieves who want to tow your ride away quickly and quietly.
Don’t leave valuables in plain sight
Items like laptop bags, suitcases, and smartphones entice thieves. Keep all valuables in the trunk if you have to leave them in your car.
Despite your best car theft prevention efforts, you never know when thieves can strike. If you fall victim to this crime, your auto insurance has your back.
If you have comprehensive coverage on your policy, you can get reimbursed for the cost of your stolen vehicle. By selecting a loss-of-use endorsement when purchasing coverage, you can secure a rental car so your daily life doesn’t miss a beat. Want to know about your coverage? Let’s chat.
Expert Advice from The Magnes Group
At the Magnes Group, we do things differently. We deliver the best personalized insurance coverage and risk management advice with effort and care. We serve businesses and individuals who appreciate quality, precision, and value in a way that many other insurance brokerages can’t or won’t.
As an independent insurance broker, we pride ourselves on providing straightforward, uncomplicated, and honest advice. We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. Not to increase market share but because it’s the right thing to do. You can rely on expert advice from the Magnes Group.
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