The National Insurance Crime Bureau lists the 1994 Honda Accord and the 1998 Honda Civic as the most-stolen vehicles in 2011. Guarding against auto theft can be out of your control, but there are a number of ways to make your vehicle less attractive to thieves:
- Use common sense by locking your car and taking your keys with you
- Do not leave valuable items where visible
- Park your vehicle in well lighted areas whenever possible
- If parking in a parking garage, avoid the temptation to park near the closest exit
- Install an immobilization device or “kill” switch to make the vehicle inoperable
- Install a tracking device which emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station allowing the vehicle to be tracked
Many vehicle thefts occur at a home or residence. So always lock your car, even in your own driveway. To help consumers address vehicle theft prevention the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Insurance Information Institute have teamed up with a program called Wiser Drivers Wise Up to offer tips and assistance.
Should you be a victim of auto theft, it is important to act quickly, contact the police and be prepared to supply the obvious information like make, color and model of your car, but moreover, you also should know the license plate number and VIN (vehicle identification number). Remember to keep a copy of those identifying numbers and your auto insurance card where readily available. In addition, it would help to keep a photocopy of your registration and insurance card at home, so you can provide information quickly to both law enforcement and insurance claims agents.
Of course, even the most cautious and most prepared can fall victim to auto theft, and this is when your auto insurance comes in. All drivers should review their auto insurance policy once a year. This should include coverage you must have, coverage you’ll probably need, and any additional types of coverage, including roadside assistance and rental reimbursement. It is very important not to assume anything when it comes to your auto insurance policy. Theft is one thing, but there are number of additional issues you should consider when purchasing your auto insurance policy:
- Property Damage Liability, covers your legal defense costs and claims against you if your vehicle damages another’s property. This does not cover your own vehicle.
- Rental Car Reimbursement, covers the cost for a replacement rental car while your car is undergoing repairs from a covered loss.
- Collision, pays for repairs of damage to your vehicle, above the deductible, caused by a collision regardless of who was responsible.
- Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist, pays for costs related to injuries or property damage to those in your vehicle caused by an uninsured, underinsured or hit-and-run driver.
- Medical Payments, pays medical expenses resulting from a collision to those in your vehicle. Be sure to check if your policy also pays for you or your family members injured while riding in another person’s vehicle or while walking.
- Bodily Injury Liability, pays your legal defense costs and claims against you if your vehicle injures someone. Depending on your policy this may or may not cover family members living with you and others driving with your permission.
- Comprehensive Physical Damage, pays for damage to your vehicle resulting from theft, fire, vandalism or a variety of other causes other than collision.
Herein lies the importance of understanding your auto insurance policy, always error on the side of asking when unclear, and remember, if it is not stated in writing, you cannot assume that you will be covered. Drive safely.