Stolen-Car Epidemic Means Costlier Insurance
Thieves stole 1,325 cars in Pueblo County, Colorado, in 2016, about one car for every 111 residents, according to a recent report. So who’s paying for replacing them?
The insurance companies are writing the checks, yes, but you’re the one who’s really footing the bill. You’re paying for it through your insurance premiums and higher premiums to come. So when a smallish metropolitan area in your state, Pueblo in fact, becomes the No. 2 hot spot for car thefts in the entire United States, you should be really concerned.
Pueblo received the distinction in mid-June from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which based its report on FBI crime data.
“The bottom line is that auto theft going up in Pueblo does contribute ultimately to what we pay in car insurance and higher rates,” Carol Walker of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association told The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper.
The rash of auto thefts across Colorado, she said, is going to cost the state’s insurers about $100 million in replacement payouts.
“So there is a dollar value, unfortunately, to stolen vehicles. … we all pay for it,” Walker said.
Auto Accidents and Weather Damage Also Contribute
Traffic accidents are another factor in higher insurance rates. At least 608 drivers, passengers, and pedestrians died from car accidents on Colorado roads in 2016, a 24 percent increase over 2014, according to statistics kept by the Colorado Department of Transportation. And so far in 2017, another 265 have died.
Besides the thefts and accidents, she pointed to other factors contributing to the rising cost for comprehensive coverage, pointing to natural phenomena, such as flooding. Colorado is No. 2 in the U.S. for claims for hail damage.
Increases Were Already Coming
In January, before the theft report came out, Walker announced on Denver’s KDVR-TV that Colorado drivers should expect to see a premium increase when they renewed in 2017, some by more than 15 percent.
She pointed to Colorado’s rising population as a major factor in the increase. In 2016, the state’s population increased by at least 100,000 people, which means more cars and drivers on the roads and inherently, more auto accidents in Colorado. She cited other reasons for the increases, as well, such as the high cost of repairing newer, high-tech cars and “loose” state laws that favor plaintiffs in lawsuits.
Get Someone to Help
When it’s your turn to be the victim of an auto thief, you should remember to make three phone calls. Call 911 and file a police report immediately. Prompt action is especially important because the thief may be committing other crimes and creating havoc behind the wheel of your car.
Next, call your insurance company. The sooner you report the loss, the sooner the insurer can compensate you for your loss.
After you’ve filed your report with police and your insurer, you might consider calling an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney. A lawyer can give you an element of protection and leverage if the theft caused damage to your car, if it is never found, or if it becomes involved in a deadly or serious accident. If your insurer refuses coverage, your attorney will know whom to call.