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Auto theft crisis deepens as insurance claims top $1.5 billion for first time

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Canada’s auto theft crisis is deepening, as insurance claim costs top $1.5 billion for the first time.

New data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) shows insurance providers handled 49,679 claims for stolen vehicles in 2023, with costs eclipsing $1.54 billion for the year. Overall, the number of claims has spiked 56 per cent since 2018, while costs have gone up 254 per cent.

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“These numbers indicate that the auto theft crisis persists, disrupting the lives of Canadians and causing them concern and trauma,” Liam McGuinty, vice-president of strategy at the IBC, said in a news release. “It places a heavy burden on law enforcement and courtroom personnel who work tirelessly to address these crimes.”

Car owners ultimately end up paying higher insurance premiums due to the high rate of theft. A 2023 report from found frequently stolen vehicles — such as the Honda CR-V and Dodge RAM 1500 Series — could face premium spikes of more than 25 per cent and a $500 high-theft surcharge.

“Canada’s auto theft crisis is also placing pressure on drivers’ insurance premiums — as auto theft continues to increase, so do the associated costs,” McGuinty said. “Auto theft is not a victimless crime.”

Auto theft is most pronounced in Ontario, where claim costs have climbed 524 per cent since 2018, eclipsing $1 billion.

Ontario Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria told reporters last week that a car is stolen in Ontario every 14 minutes.

The Ontario government recently announced stiff new penalties for those convicted of the crime, which include a lifetime driver’s licence suspension for repeat offenders.

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In February, the federal government announced $15 million in funding for police agencies to ramp up auto theft enforcement.

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Still, the IBC said more action is needed to prevent stolen vehicles from being exported internationally.

“IBC recognizes the efforts undertaken by governments to date to fight auto theft, but more needs to be done, including at the national level,” McGuinty added. “Attention needs to be paid to modernizing Canada’s outdated vehicle safety standards, which were last updated in 2007, and stopping the outflow of stolen vehicles from Canada’s ports.”

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