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Canada’s Car Theft Crisis: The Impact on Auto Insurance in SK

Amid rising concerns over car theft this past month, its subsequent impact on car insurance rates is becoming an undeniable issue. Car theft not only presents a direct loss to the owner but also causes a significant ripple effect, leading to higher insurance premiums and a general uptick in car insurance costs across the board. 

This escalation compels vehicle owners and insurance policyholders to grapple with the increasing financial burden, underscoring the pressing need to understand the dynamics between stolen cars and the insurance industry.

 

The Escalating Crisis

Overview of the Auto Theft in Canada

This recent surge in Canada’s auto theft incidents and claims costs over the past few years has directly impacted auto insurers. In 2024, the comprehensive portion of auto insurance premiums for the most commonly stolen vehicles was approximately 37% above the average. Between 2021-2023 auto theft trends increased sharply in Ontario (up 48.2%), Quebec (up 57.9%), Atlantic Canada (up 34%), and Western Canada (up 5.5%).

High rates of auto theft are continuing to push premium prices higher as insurers try to balance out unprecedented claims costs, 

Daniel Ivans, licensed insurance broker and RatesDotCa insurance expert, continues to say, “For drivers of commonly stolen vehicles, it’s even more important to shop around for auto insurance, as prices could vary widely from insurer to insurer, depending on claims costs and how they are calculating risk.”

Unfortunately, Canada’s auto theft crisis shows no signs of slowing down. Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada has also released an unclassified report on organized crime involvement in vehicle theft in Canada. It found that the number of organized crime groups involved in vehicle theft has grown by 62% since 2022.

The financial impact of this crisis is staggering, with Canada’s private auto insurers paying out $1.5 billion in theft claims in 2023. To put this into perspective, between 2018 and 2021, auto theft claims costs averaged $556 million annually.

 

Statistical Data for Saskatchewan Auto Theft

In 2023, nearly 1,000 vehicles were reported stolen in Saskatoon, SK, between January and November. This is in comparison to 2022, when the city reported that 1,101 vehicles were reported stolen, showing a slight upward trend for car theft. However, the data for the province shows a different trend than what’s being reported in our neighbouring provinces.

Mitch Yuzdepski, the executive director for the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, said auto theft presents itself differently in the Prairies.

Our experience in Saskatchewan is quite different than what has been an issue in Ontario, Quebec and B.C. where high-end vehicles have been stolen and shipped abroad.

SGI’s spokesperson Tyler McMurchy mentioned that the province of Saskatchewan received 3,404 insurance claims for stolen vehicles in 2023, a decrease from the previous year’s 3,597 claims filed. He noted that a third of stolen vehicles in Saskatchewan are the result of keys being left inside the vehicle, noting that many cars are recovered locally.

2023 Auto Theft Trend chart screenshot

Chart from Equite 2023 Auto Theft Trend Report

The Equite 2023 Auto Theft Trend report includes data for Western Canada, including BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Interestingly, a good portion of the data for Western Canada* is likely related to Alberta, as the province experiences more auto theft per capita than Ontario (252 stolen vehicles per 100,000 people, while Ontario experiences 202).

This suggests a trend that differs from that of other provinces, such as Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, and BC, where high-end vehicle thefts for export and domestic re-sale of re-VINed vehicles are a major concern. 

 

Comprehensive Auto Coverage: 

Definition and Benefits of Comprehensive Auto Insurance

Comprehensive auto insurance is designed to offer protection against losses not related to collisions. This type of coverage is crucial if your vehicle is damaged due to theft, vandalism, natural disasters, or falling objects. This coverage comes automatically with your basic plate registration, subject to a $700 deductible.

Purchasing additional Auto Insurance becomes a choice, allowing you to decide based on your personal risk assessment if you’d like to lower your deductible to $50, $100, $250, or $500.

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How Comprehensive Coverage Offers Protection Against Theft

Comprehensive coverage protects against the financial loss you experience from the theft of your vehicle, covering damages like broken locks or smashed windows resulting from break-ins. It also covers you for the theft of car parts, such as catalytic converters. If your car is stolen, comprehensive insurance with Replacement Cost coverage can help cover the replacement costs, less any deductible you have chosen.

Auto Insurance coverage does not extend to personal items, such as belongings or contents, stolen from your vehicle.

 

Practical Steps to Protect Your Vehicle and Minimize Premium Costs

Preventative Measures to Deter Auto Theft

To safeguard your vehicle from theft, consider installing a steering wheel locking device or an aftermarket GPS tracker, which may aid in the vehicle’s recovery if stolen. Additionally, parking your vehicle in a well-lit area and ensuring all doors and windows are securely locked can significantly deter theft. Investing in anti-theft devices like ignition or fuel kill switches and using a vehicle immobilizer system can prevent unauthorized use of your car.

In colder weather, vehicle thefts increase, said Staff Sgt. Matthew Ward of the general investigation section,

When it first gets cold, we will see that jump and we need to always remind the public to stay diligent in that regard. It doesn’t seem to necessarily make a difference because when it’s cold, people leave their vehicles running outside of a restaurant or outside of their home.

 

Future Outlook: 

Predictions on the Impact of Countermeasures on Insurance Premiums

Implementing stringent measures is expected to mitigate the auto theft crisis gradually. This, in turn, is anticipated to stabilize and potentially reduce insurance premiums. As vehicle recovery rates improve and theft incidents decrease, the financial burden on insurers and policyholders alike is likely to diminish, leading to more favourable insurance rates.

While auto theft claim rates in other provinces can sometimes affect insurance rates in Saskatchewan, the impact is likely less severe compared to provinces experiencing a surge in thefts.

Thankfully, Saskatchewan isn’t experiencing as heavy a crisis as BC, Ontario, and Quebec are. While our provincial basic insurance from SGI Auto Fund will likely remain mostly unaffected so long as the auto theft rate remains consistent with the previous year’s numbers, it’s still a good idea to be diligent with your Auto Insurance. Insurance carriers with risks in the affected provinces may alter their rates for their products to help them remain solvent in the event of increased claim payouts this year, as Ivan suggested prior. 

Comprehensive strategies to protect against theft, ultimately contributing to a more secure and financially sustainable future for all involved.

 

FAQs

What Steps Should You Take If Your Car Is Stolen in Canada?

If your car is stolen in Canada, the first step is to report the theft to your local police on a non-emergency line and complete a police report. Next, verify whether your car insurance policy includes theft coverage. Contact your insurance provider to initiate a claim if you have comprehensive, specified perils, or all perils coverage.

What Vehicle Holds the Title for Being Most Stolen in America?

As of the 2022 National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) report, the vehicle most frequently stolen in America is the 2004 full-size Chevrolet pickup. This model experienced 49,903 thefts, marking a 3.5% increase from the previous year, 2021.

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