Despite a nationwide crackdown on motor vehicle theft, Government statistics* show that around 60,000 vehicles are stolen each year in Australia, which equates to a theft every 10 minutes.
Technological advances such as immobilizers and keyless ignition systems have driven down the number of motor thefts over the past five years by 10.6 per cent*. Though, this is of little comfort to the victims and other motorists that have to pick up the collective bill, forking out more than $610 million a year in increased car insurance premiums.
“It’s unfair that innocent motorists end up paying for these crimes, both emotionally through the inconvenience and heartache of having their vehicle stolen, as well as monetarily through insurance excess and higher premiums. Even worse off are those people that do not have adequate cover or have no car insurance at all – they’re the ones left facing serious financial consequences,” said Abigail Koch, spokesperson at insurance comparison site comparethemarket.com.au.
Abigail advises motorists to invest a few minutes to compare car insurance policies. “Finding the right policy could mean if you’re unlucky enough to have your vehicle stolen, then at least you’re not left facing a financial black hole where your car used to be.
“All car insurance policies are different, but here are 5 little-known clauses included in some policies that could make a real impact on your back pocket. The moral of the story is to make sure you read the fine print carefully,” said Abigail.
- Third Party Fire & Theft insurance coverage will only cover loss or damage to your car if it is actually stolen or catches fire. It doesn’t matter how much damage a thief makes with a crowbar attempting to steal your car, or whether they smash a window and grab your handbag during their bungled theft attempt; if your car is not physically stolen then your policy may not pay out.
- Even with comprehensive car insurance, being too trusting can be a costly mistake. If you’re trying to sell your car, make sure you accompany your potential buyer on any test drives. You could have a real fight on your hands when it comes to claiming on your insurance, if you weren’t in the car during a test drive and it was stolen in the process.
- It’s not just your car that’s worth a lot of money; what’s inside can quickly add up. Think of the valuable things we regularly leave in our cars – a laptop, designer sunnies and a sat-nav can be worth thousands of dollars. Even with comprehensive car insurance, if your car is stolen then it’s more than likely you’ll be out of pocket as typically personal items are only covered up to around $500.
- Trying to save time can come at a significant cost. Ever jumped in the car, realised you’ve forgotten something and left the car running as you raced back inside to retrieve your umbrella, folder, handbag etc.? You’re lucky there wasn’t an opportunistic thief nearby. Your car insurance could be invalidated if your car was stolen while left unattended with the keys inside. To top it off, you could also be charged with an offence and fined, as it is illegal in certain states to leave your keys in your ignition if you’re more than three metres away.
- Even if your car is stolen, you may have to pay your full car insurance premiums. If your car is stolen and not recovered, your insurer will typically either replace your car or pay the amount it was insured for. Even in the event of a pay-out when you no longer have a car, your insurer may deduct any outstanding premiums from your payout.
“Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to protect your vehicle from theft, but there are some common-sense tips you can follow to reduce the chance of having your vehicle stolen,” said Abigail.
“In particular, don’t just take the first parking spot that comes along. With nearly a fifth of all car thefts over the past year taking place on Friday and Saturday nights, it makes sense to put a bit of thought into where you park when you’re on a night out. Choose a well-lit area, with as much foot traffic as possible, and avoid parking near shrubbery and pillars, or anywhere else a thief could lurk without being seen.
“Don’t leave valuables out in the open, and don’t broadcast that you have valuables by putting them in the boot once you’ve pulled into your parking spot. This is a sure-fire way to announce to would-be thieves that your car is worth breaking into. Be sensible, and hide everything away before you set off on your journey.”