Over one million cars are stolen each year in the U.S., equivalent to one theft every 25 seconds. According to the National Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, trucks and SUVs are the top targets. Surprisingly, BMWs and similar high-end rides aren’t big with thieves, who prefer popular, inconspicuous models that can be sold for parts. Since your car insurance premiums are partially based on the type of car you drive, you can avoid buying a car on the most frequently stolen list. However, if you have your heart set on a Honda Civic or Toyota Camry (perennial favorites on the Top 10 list), you can take some steps to equip it with anti-theft devices. Doing so might help you get discount auto insurance.
Anti-theft devices come in many varieties. In general, the more automatic the device is that you’ve installed, the bigger the discount on auto insurance, although the exact amount will vary from company to company.
Most late model cars come equipped with an alarm system, but so many false positives caused by random innocent bumps or loud noises have made these more of an annoyance than a deterrent. The thief may take off, but don’t count on your neighbors calling the cops if your car alarm goes off. They’re more likely to call you a jerk.
Mechanical anti-theft devices like those that lock your steer wheel are inexpensive and fairly effective, although thieves have been known to saw off sections of steering wheel to remove them.
Another type of device that can qualify for discount auto insurance is an immobilizer. As the name implies, an immobilizer renders your car temporarily immobile by shutting of the electric ignition or fuel injection system.
If your car is stolen and it’s equipped with a stolen vehicle recovery system (LoJack is a popular brand), it will be easier for the police to locate it. These systems use a radio transceiver to link your vehicle id number (VIN) to a police computer system. As more than 90% of vehicles with this type of anti-theft device are recovered, insurance companies typically will offer a fairly big discount auto insurance break.
You can make any device more effective by etching your VIN number on the windshield and windows, parking your car in a garage, if possible, always locking the doors and never leaving your keys in the ignition. Car thieves are lazy. They like to target cars that are parked in driveways or on the street. Four out of every five car theft victims don’t lock their door and one in every five leaves the keys in the car.