Vehicle theft: more common than you think

Vehicle theft more common than you think

April 14, 2011

Did you know a vehicle is stolen every eight minutes somewhere in Australia? And between January and September 2010, 33,482 cars were stolen across the country. That’s the frightening statistic in a recent report from car insurer Budget Direct.

You may also be surprised by the most common time of day when cars are stolen – not in the dark of night but around midday.

These facts are not designed to make you padlock your car every time you want to leave it parked on the street or in a car park. But when you spend a significant amount of money on your prized set of wheels, you might want to consider comprehensive car insurance or third-party fire and theft insurance.

And if you take the time to do an insurance quote comparison, you may be surprised at how affordable the extra safety can be.

Budget Direct’s report also showed that more cars were stolen on Thursdays, with NSW, Queensland and Victoria experiencing about one-fifth of car thefts on Thursdays.

"These results prove that motorists would be naive to think that thieves aren’t operating everyday of the week," says Richelle Ward, spokeswoman for Budget Direct.

The Holden Commodore is still the most targeted vehicle by thieves, followed by the Hyundai Excel X3, Nissan Skyline, Subaru Liberty and Ford Falcon EA.

Three-quarters of all car thefts are by youths either for joy-riding, transport or to commit another crime. And the busiest time of year for car theft is September to October.

"It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your car, which is why so many drivers opt for comprehensive car insurance with automatic third-party fire and theft policies," says Damian Smith, CEO of financial comparison website RateCity.

While third-party fire and theft generally covers you for loss or damage to your car if it’s successfully stolen, if you find your car damaged from an attempted break-in or items stolen from inside your car, you might be left high and dry without comprehensive car insurance.

Some car insurance providers also offer the option to have a hire car after theft. This might be a significant factor for you if you rely heavily on your car. So when making an insurance quote comparison, make sure you read the fine print – especially the product disclosure statement – to see what’s included and what’s excluded from different providers.

"Remember to secure your vehicle even if you plan to only leave it for a few minutes. Shopping centres, car parks and even petrol stations are popular places for theft because it’s a time when motorists don’t expect it," Ward says.




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Learn more about car insurance

Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.

Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance.