Ontario auto insurers are commending the provincial government for committing $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft.
“Last year marked the first time in history when Canada’s insurers paid over $1 billion in claims for stolen vehicles,” Amanda Dean, interim vice president of Ontario for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), said in a public statement following the province’s announcement.
“In Ontario alone, auto theft claims costs were approximately $700 million in 2022, up from approximately $160 million in 2018, a staggering 329% increase,” she said.
“IBC believes a whole-of-society approach is necessary to help end auto theft and we are encouraged by the Ontario government’s commitment to create a provincial auto theft team with dedicated prosecutorial support to strengthen provincial capacity to police and deter organized crime’s involvement in auto theft.”
In a public statement, Ontario’s solicitor general’s office said the money will be used to:
Acquire specialized resources, including surveillance equipment, software, and GPS tracking devices
Provide specialized training to police investigators to enhance skillsets specific to auto theft
Create new units dedicated to auto theft, including cross-jurisdictional units that will serve more than one police service to break down silos and address organized criminal activity
Expand data collection and analysis efforts to capture more metrics on the linkage to organized crime and other criminal activity
Foster partnerships with organizations such as the IBC and the Canadian Automobile Association, as well as local car dealerships, to share information and resources, and to help develop effective prevention strategies and public education campaigns
Related: Grand Theft Auto: P&C industry sounds the alarm
“This investment will help our police services crack down on the growing problem of auto theft, dismantle organized crime networks and get these criminals off the streets and behind bars where they belong,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a press release, which notes an Ontario vehicle is stolen once every 14 minutes.
“Our government is making the necessary investments so that our police officers have the tools they need to keep people and communities safe.”
Ontario has pledged to crack down on auto fraud in both its 2022 and 2023 budgets, although no fixed dollar value had been attached to its pledge until now.
In addition, both Ford and the IBC have urged the federal government to create a National Task Force on Stolen Vehicles. The federal task force would include key experts and stakeholders affected by auto fraud to come up with solutions for tracking auto thefts nationally and preventing the outflow of stolen vehicles from Canada’s ports.
In a panel discussion at the National Insurance Conference of Canada in Montreal in September, Aviva Canada’s managing director of personal lines, Susan Penwarden, said the average claims cost attributable to auto fraud sits at about $70,000 per vehicle stolen.
For consumers, who bear these additional costs in their policy premiums, “that’s an average of $125 per policy,” Penwarden said.
Feature image courtesy of iStock.com/baona