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MIRZAIAN: Ontario drivers will pay the price for surge in carjackings

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With a vehicle stolen every six minutes in Canada, Ontario drivers looking to renew their insurance policies will discover that the surge in auto thefts and carjackings can drive premiums up.

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That’s because auto theft rates are the highest in Ontario.

In Peel Region, which includes Mississauga and Brampton, police reported 404 vehicles stolen in the 30-day period between May 4 and June 2 — that’s an average of 13 cars stolen a day.

There have already been more carjacking incidents that have occurred in the GTA this year than in all of last year.

Unfortunately, it’s consumers who will end up paying for the rampant increase in stolen vehicles, especially those owning luxury vehicles.

When Toronto Maple Leaf star Mitch Marner had his Range Rover SUV stolen at gunpoint recently at a movie theater parking lot, his insurance company will end up paying to replace the vehicle.

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What happens next is a chain reaction of events ultimately leading to higher rates because the insurance companies must generate revenue to fund the payouts. Once again, it’s law-abiding vehicle owners — especially those living in the high-theft areas — who will feel the brunt of the pain.

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As the CEO of a company specializing in finding car insurance options for consumers, we found the five most expensive cities for car insurance in Ontario today are Vaughan, Ajax, Brampton, Mississauga, and Toronto. Hamilton, Vaughan, Brampton/Mississauga and Toronto ranked as the cities with the most car thefts.

When determining auto insurance rates, insurance companies look at a variety of different factors, such as driving history, age and location — with risk of car theft among these factors.

That means, even if drivers are not personally a victim of auto theft, they may still pay the price because they live in a hotspot location or own a particular vehicle model that is associated with theft claims as insurance companies try to offset claim payouts.

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When there are more theft claims associated with a particular model or location, then insurance companies have to charge more for that location to offset those claims.

In 2020, there were more than 20,000 auto theft claims in Canada with payouts of $346.7 million and with rising auto theft and carjackings this year, the payouts are expected to be higher.

Drivers also need to be aware that basic insurance policies don’t provide coverage for theft.

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Drivers must have additional coverage such as comprehensive, specific perils or all perils coverage to ensure coverage for auto theft.

Full coverage will help replace a stolen vehicle, or replace parts of a vehicle that are stolen or damaged and it will help repair damages to your car resulting from theft or break-in. If your premiums do rise substantially, you should shop around to see if you can find a better rate somewhere else.

With carjackings at record levels, drivers need to search high and low to find the best insurance rate tailored to their needs, especially those in high theft areas.

— Aren Mirzaian is CEO of My Choice (mychoice.ca)

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