Car Insurance and Protection Against Rising Auto Theft Rates
Whether you commute to work in Sacramento, or love taking weekend road trips to visit some of Oregon and Washington’s scenic hotspots, for many of us living on the West Coast, owning a vehicle can be a necessity. Despite their convenience, cars can also be a major liability due to the risk of traffic accidents, vandalism, or theft. In fact, nationwide vehicle theft is the top form of property crime.
Despite a slight overall national decline in auto theft and vandalism, some Western states have seen an increase. Seattle, Washington, for example, saw a striking 15% increase in auto theft in 2013. And residents of Portland, Oregon suffered the consequences of the SE Tire Slasher in 2014, where an individual or group punctured hundreds of tires throughout Portland's neighborhoods over the course of several months.
Cars are an expensive investment—an investment that most owners must leave unattended on the street, at least from time to time. How can we protect our investment from theft and vandalism? In addition to investing in comprehensive auto insurance coverage, there are some basic, precautionary steps you can take:
The Basics: How to Cover your Bases
- Make it muscle-memory to remove the keys from the ignition, lock the doors, and place the keys in your purse or pocket.
- Keep two copies of your vehicle registration: one at home and one in the glove box.
- Whenever possible, park in a well-lit, public area.
- Stow away valuable possessions out of sight or take them with you.
- Keep all records of your vehicle in a safe place at home, including:
- the title of your vehicle
- a copy of your vehicle registration
- the number of car keys and where they’re kept
- receipts from maintenance on the vehicle
- any distinct markings or characteristics of the vehicle to help identify it, e.g. dents or scratches, bumper sticker, etc.
- Make sure you understand your auto insurance coverage:
- Basic liability coverage will not cover theft or vandalism, be sure to speak with your agent so that you understand what your policy actually covers.
- If you’re unsure you want to add additional coverage or want to assess your risk, your independent agent can help you weigh the pros and cons, offering additional information, such as more insight into the theft or vandalism-related statistics in your area.
Live in An Area with High Theft or Crime Rates? Go Beyond the Basics
- Many vehicles come equipped with standard deterrent devices, like car alarms. However, because of the ubiquity of car alarms, people nearby may not respond when one goes off. Consider investing in additional forms of deterrence such as a steering column collar, brake or wheel locks, steering wheel or brake pedal locks, and theft deterrent deals, identification markers, VIN etchings, and micro dot markings.
- Other advanced technology can prevent hot-wiring and better protect your vehicle, such as smart keys, fuse cut-offs, kill switches, starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers, and wireless ignition authentication.
- In the age of GPS, various tracking devices are also available. When activated, these devices can relay the location of your vehicle to a tracking station or even directly to the police.
My Vehicle was Stolen. Now What?
And now, even if you’ve taken all of the necessary precautions, what happens in the event that your car is stolen? In the event of theft:
- Call the police immediately to report the theft.
- Take down as much information as possible. Where was the vehicle last seen? What is the license plate number and description of the vehicle? What personal property did you have inside the vehicle? If the vehicle was under a lease, what is the contact information for the finance company from whom you leased it?
- Notify your insurance company to make a claim.
Basic car insurance that covers liability loss is a requirement in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado. However, you can upgrade your insurance plan to include comp and collision coverage, which covers theft, among other liabilities. Grange offers customizable, comprehensive packages that cover the cost of the stolen vehicle, the personal items that were in the vehicle, and common damages that often accompany recovered vehicles, such as broken windows. If you have questions or would like more information, you’re always encouraged to contact us or speak with your independent agent to customize your plan. We’re here to help!