Insurance Rates are Affected More Than You Think by Theft Rates in Each County

Driving your older Toyota around Bakersfield is going to cost you a bit more for car insurance theft coverage than the other guy with a newer Toyota in Sacramento. The reason is simple. Bakersfield, California has a higher car theft rate than Sacramento, as do the Toyotas. This unfortunate combination of facts greatly affects auto insurance premium rates.

According to a National Insurance Crime Bureau report released earlier last year, there were more than 7,000 car thefts in the Bakersfield metropolitan area in 2016, making it the highest rated area in the state for car thefts. Bakersfield tiered third in the country after Albuquerque, New Mexico, which took the number one spot, and Pueblo, Colorado, which came in next. The annual Hot Spots report studies automobile theft statistics from the National Crime Information Center for all of the nation’s most densely populated areas. The ranking takes factors such as population into account, which explains why an area such as Billings, Mont., which had 877 thefts, places much higher than Los Angeles, with 60,670 thefts.

There were other California metropolitan zones in the top 10 including Fresno, Modesto, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Merced, and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward. Initial statistics show that 2016 car thefts across the nation went up 6.6% from 2015’s 707,758 thefts, but the number has considerably declined from 1991, the year there were 1.7 million thefts, a standing record. The reports say the best way to prevent car theft is plain common sense. The insurance bureau reported from 2013 to 2015, over 140,000 vehicles were stolen with the keys left inside.

Auto insurance premiums are based in most part on the driver, the type of car, and where the car is stored when not in use. The driver’s DMV record, driving experience and typical daily commute affect premium rates. The cost of a vehicle as well as theft and accident rates for that type of vehicle make a vast difference. Other factors which are considered include deductible levels, age, sex, marital status, and the number of vehicles the policy insures. The driver’s area’s typical reparation costs, uninsured driver rates, probability of hail or wind damage, number of uninsured drivers, and theft rate are all factors to an extent.

People often assume sports cars or expensive import luxury cars are the most popular theft targets, however statistics show older vehicles are targeted more often because they are easier to steal and there is a much larger market for their parts. The 1994 Honda Accord was reportedly the most stolen car in the United States from 2009 to 2012. The 1991 Toyota Camry, 1995 and 1998 Honda Civics, and 2004 Dodge pickup have all made top-thefts lists as well. Fortunately, later-model vehicles aren’t joining the ranks of these theft numbers because of the new developments in the technology of anti-theft devices. Honda equips vehicles with immobilizer systems, for example, and newer models aren’t joining the burglary lists. Florida, Texas, and California, are the top states for auto theft. Seven localities in California made the list of the top 10 theft areas in the country. Those were Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield/Delano, San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, Stockton, Vallejo-Fairfield and Visalia-Porterville. In Washington, Spokane and Yakima, and Anderson, South Carolina, also made the dubious list. Astonishingly to many, San Jose, California made the list of the 10 lowest theft areas.

A sure way to lower your probability of car theft is to purchase one with theft protection devices. Another option is to install them yourself or have a professional install them. They can make a significant difference. These devices will also reduce your auto insurance premiums considerably. Discounts vary by state and insurance company. Insurance companies look for anti-theft devices such as steering column locks, alarms, steering wheel locks, starter or fuel disablers, wheel or tire locks, and GPS tracking devices. Theft coverage is part of the comprehensive coverage on car insurance policies. It is not usually included, however, in a bare-bones policy. Auto theft insurance only pays the owner of the stolen car the depreciated value instead of the cost to replace the car. Drivers in an area prone to theft who drive an older vehicle, must consider the value of adding theft coverage to what it will pay if they have a claim.

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