Carjackings are skyrocketing as the insurance industry takes notice
Carjackings have increased in recent years, along with car thefts, and in addition to some victims suffering the trauma of a sometimes violent event, many car owners may be paying the price with increased car insurance premiums.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER
- Car thefts increased nearly 30% in 2021 compared to 2017, according to NICB data.
- Most carjackings are now committed by minors who may sometimes be part of a larger network of chop shops or use vehicles for drive-by shootings, the NICB found.
- Data from some major US cities has seen increases of more than 200% in carjackings over the past two years, with New York seeing a 286% spike.
- Auto theft contributes to the increase in insurance policy premiums.
- Comprehensive policies cover auto theft, unlike strict liability policies.
- Insurers offer tips to help prevent theft or recover a vehicle, such as installing anti-theft devices and not leaving vehicle registration in the car.
Carjackings reach alarming levels in American cities
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which has studied and analyzed trends in various US cities, said in recent testimony before the US Senate, “Put simply, the numbers are staggering.”
According to NICB CEO David Glawe, who testified March 1 at a hearing before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on federal support to prevent and respond to carjackings, New York has seen an increase in 286% of carjackings from 2019 to 2021.
New York is no anomaly. Philadelphia has seen a 238% increase in carjackings over the same two-year period, Chicago by 207% and Washington, DC, by 200% over the past two years. Glawe pointed out that in 2019 DC had 142 carjackings, but in 2021 there were 426 carjackings in the nation’s capital.
New Orleans and Denver have also seen significant jumps as cities across the United States and even some suburbs report more carjackings, according to Glawe.
The NICB, which collects car theft data nationally and in many local jurisdictions, said in a press release accompanying Glawe’s testimony that car thefts nationwide increased by 16 .5% in 2021 compared to 2019 and almost 29% compared to 2017. The figures are increasing year on year. year, also, from 2019 to 2020, and from 2020 to 2021.
Glawe also noted in his testimony that juvenile suspects outnumbered adults by more than twice and are used to supply parts to cutter shops and may supply cars for anonymous drive-by shootings. The NICB is calling for more community policing to prevent carjackings, which can snowball into other crimes, new bail laws and tougher enforcement. Restorative justice was also an option.
Auto theft, including carjacking, contributes to higher premiums
Carjackings are a subset of auto thefts and contribute to more car insurance claims, which can increase policy prices in areas where they occur.
Robert Passmore, vice president, auto policy and claims, for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, said that according to NICB data, car thefts hit their highest level in a decade in 2020.
Passmore said there are indeed also reports that incidents of carjacking, a type of car theft, have increased significantly in a number of cities. Insurers care first and foremost about the safety of all motorists, he said Investopedia. “These trends are very troubling and are one of many factors impacting insurance costs,” Passmore said.
However, the most important factors influencing the cost of car insurance are still the cost of personal injury and damage claims related to accidents as well as weather events, he added.
According to a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute. Unfortunately, deaths are also on the rise. According to the Triple I, more auto theft and fraud are also impacting auto insurance rates, which are under pressure and are now returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Car thefts rose 9.2% in 2020, after declining in the previous two years. Read more about the most stolen cars here, but generally they include popular Japanese models and pickup trucks. Luxury cars like Mercedes, used as a “bait car” provided by the NICB as part of an Auto Theft Task Force law enforcement operation in New York, are primarily used for rides.
The NICB has partnered with local and federal authorities to help stop car jacking rings or activities. For example, the organization helped San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies last year identify 11 stolen vehicles and their respective insurance interests after deputies stopped a vehicle towing a trailer loaded with auto parts. The vehicle itself had been hijacked.
The federal carjacking law states that the obvious cost is reflected in increased auto premiums, but individuals also pay the cost by spending money on anti-theft devices and off-street parking to protect their vehicles.
Advice to reduce the risks offered by experts
Auto insurers like Geico, Allstate, and even universities offer consumers and campus residents a host of tips to thwart car thieves.
These include obvious safety measures of locking the car even while driving, closing the sunroof and removing valuables, getting into a new vehicle quickly, being careful especially at night and buying anti-theft devices, which may result in discounts from the insurance company. Visible and audible security features are often a deterrent, as is a vehicle’s VIN number etched into window glass. Allstate suggests installing a tracking system with GPS technology.
But if you are confronted by a carjacker, armed or not, do not resist, it is better to lose your car than to be injured or lose your life, all the experts agree. “Unlike auto theft, a carjacking involves a violent confrontation with an offender or the perception of a threat of violence that could result in death or serious bodily injury,” the NICB states.
While most theft is committed by professionals or minors are exploited by professionals to be dismantled in chop shops or even exported to other countries, there are joy-riders who like luxury vehicles, according to Geico.
The insurer also warns drivers against carjackers who use the bump and rob technique, deliberately creating a fender bender at a stop light, then taking the vehicle when the driver exits to check for damage. Insurers and public safety officials are advising drivers to stay alert at red lights and to allow wiggle room around the vehicle in front of them when stopped.
Texas A&M University, which published a bulletin on carjackings, acknowledged that “experts say women are more likely to be targeted than men because thieves believe women will put up less resistance.” Although carjackers are more likely to prey on those driving alone, they sometimes also threaten those with young children as they often do not see them when they approach the vehicle.