September 11, 2023, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
In recent months, Ontario car owners have been hit with an unexpected and unwelcome surprise from their auto insurance providers. Insurers have begun imposing surcharges of up to $500 on customers who own vehicles that are commonly stolen. The surge in vehicle theft rates has prompted the insurance industry to take action, but what does this mean for vehicle owners in the province?
Car Theft is a Rapidly Growing Problem
Canadian auto insurers have been sounding the alarm about the increasing rates of vehicle theft in recent years. According to Équité Association, more cars were stolen in the first half of 2022 than in the entire year of 2020, leading to significant financial losses for insurers. Organized crime rings have played a significant role in driving up car theft rates, resulting in a national crisis.
The Insurance Surcharge Solution
To address the issue of rising vehicle theft rates, some insurance companies have started imposing surcharges on car owners of high-risk vehicles. These surcharges generally apply to SUVs and pickup trucks from 2019 or newer models. Examples of affected vehicles include the Honda CR-V, Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford F-150, and certain Land Rover and Lexus SUV models. However, it's important to note that the list of affected cars may change as insurers adapt to evolving theft trends.
Insurance Surcharges Explained
According to media articles, insurance experts with Ratesdotca, point out that while this surcharge may seem like an additional burden for car owners, there is a way to avoid or reduce it. Drivers can have the fee waived or partially reimbursed by installing security features such as digital tracking systems or anti-theft devices like steering wheel locks in their vehicles. Some insurance companies even offer to install tracking devices for free or at a discounted rate for clients with high-risk vehicles. However, this brings up the larger issue of who should bear the responsibility for preventing car theft.
The Call for Increased Manufacturing and Auto Security
Insurance companies are advocating for auto manufacturers and the Canadian government to mandate more robust security features in vehicles to make them harder to steal. Équité Association has urged Transport Canada to update Canada's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations to adopt new safety standards set by UL Standards and Engagement. These regulations, which have not been updated since 2007, no longer reflect the advanced technologies present in modern vehicles.
Electronic key fobs, keyless car starters, and onboard diagnostic ports are just a few examples of areas where security standards have fallen behind. Experts believe that updating these standards, along with implementing two-factor authentication or other innovative solutions, could help reduce the rate of vehicle theft. The goal is to ensure that all consumers, regardless of their choice of vehicle manufacturer, are protected against theft.
As Ontario insurers impose surcharges on owners of commonly stolen vehicles, car owners find themselves caught in the crossfire of a growing problem. While installing security features can mitigate these fees, the larger issue of improving vehicle security standards looms large. Auto manufacturers, government agencies, insurers, and consumers must collaborate to tackle the rising rates of vehicle theft and protect Canadians from this crisis. Until comprehensive changes are made, vehicle owners in Ontario will need to take proactive steps to safeguard their cars and wallets from the threat of theft.