Categorized | Insurance

Hot Wheels Report: Thieves’ Choice

What are uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages? Do you need these on a commercial auto policy? Find out by reading my new article.

The new Hot Wheels report has just been released! The first and second-place winners for 2012 are, respectively, the Honda Accord (1990 through 1997 models) and the Honda Civic (1990 through 2000 models). In case you’ve never heard of it, the Hot Wheels report is published annually by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It’s a list of the 10 most frequently stolen vehicle models for the previous 12 months. After the Accord and Civic, the next two models that thieves favored the most were the Ford and Chevrolet full size pickups.

Car break-in

According to the NICB, many thieves prefer older Hondas because they are popular cars that have held up well. Many of them are still on the road so there is a high demand for replacement parts. The older cars are easy to steal because they lack many of the theft-deterrents found on newer cars. The NICB notes that relatively few 2012 Hondas were taken last year. Current models are equipped with alarms and other devices that make theft difficult.

I was the victim of car theft myself many years ago, and it is not an experience I want to repeat. Two cars I owned were stolen, exactly one year apart. Each was eventually recovered but was in such bad shape that the insurance company “totaled” it. Both cars were several years old. After the second one was stolen I asked a police officer why anyone would bother taking a clunker like mine. She showed me a list of the vehicles that had been stolen in the previous two-week period, and I was stunned. I had assumed that thieves targeted high-value cars, but the reverse was true. Most of the cars on the list were old.

If your company owns autos, there are several steps you can take to protect your investment. First, you can insure them for Comprehensive coverage under a commercial auto policy. Comprehensive coverage protects you against loss to a covered auto by any cause (including theft) other than collision or the vehicle’s overturn. You’ll have to consider the value of each vehicle in relation to the premium to determine whether Comprehensive coverage makes sense. A cheaper option is Specified Causes of Loss, which also includes theft. These coverages are usually subject to a deductible.

Insuring your vehicle won’t prevent it from being stolen. The NICB suggests four “layers” of protection to safeguard your vehicle against theft. You can start at the top of the list and work your way down, as your budget permits.

  1. Common Sense These are the basic things you and your employees should already be doing. Lock the car, close the windows, park in well-lit areas and (above all) do not leave your key in the ignition! (You’d be surprised how many people forget to take their keys.)
  2. Visible or Audible Devices These days many cars come with an audible alarm. If yours doesn’t, you can use a visible alternative such as a steering wheel lock. I had one of these for years and it worked. Other theft deterrents include VIN number etching or micro dotting, wheel locks and a steering column collar.
  3. Vehicle Immobilizer Many newer vehicles come with a smart key, without which the car won’t start. Cars that use smart keys cannot be easily “hot-wired.” If you have an older vehicle, you can install a kill switch, fuse cut-off, or a devise that disables the starter, ignition or fuel supply.
  4. Tracking System These devices use GPS to track your vehicle in real time. They enable the police or a tracking company to quickly locate your vehicle in the event it is stolen.

Image courtesy of [Garry Hunter] / Getty Images

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