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HLDI News | July 19, 2000Subscribe

Theft losses decline by half when cars are equipped with immobilizing antitheft devices

ARLINGTON, Va. — Now that a number of auto manufacturers are installing passive immobilizing antitheft devices in passenger vehicles, thefts of these vehicles are being reduced (an immobilizing device keeps a vehicle from being driven). This is reflected in overall insurance losses for vehicle theft, which have been reduced an average of about 50 percent for vehicles with antitheft devices. The Nissan Maxima provides an example: 1998 models, without factory-installed antitheft devices, had overall theft losses more than 7 times the average for all cars, but after standard immobilizing antitheft devices were introduced in 1999s theft losses for the Maxima declined dramatically. These are recent findings from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

"While the improvement in the Maxima's overall theft loss result is the largest we've seen, it follows a pattern we've observed in the past when General Motors, BMW, and Ford added passive immobilizing antitheft devices as standard equipment," says HLDI senior vice president Kim Hazelbaker.

For hundreds of popular passenger vehicles, the Highway Loss Data Institute computes overall insurance theft loss results (referred to as average loss payments per insured vehicle year), which reflect theft claim frequencies and average insurance payments per claim. Frequencies include both thefts of whole vehicles and thefts of vehicle parts like radios. "Factory-installed antitheft devices are beneficial because they reduce thefts of whole vehicles," Hazelbaker points out. The effects of these devices aren't consistent for all cars, in part because some vehicles are more likely to be targeted by professional thieves, some of whom are able to defeat even the best antitheft devices. Still, factory-installed antitheft devices do a good job of reducing overall theft losses."

Effect of passive immobilizing antitheft devices on theft losses
Vehicle Body size
and type
antitheft device
of claims
Claim frequency
per 1,000
vehicle years
loss payment
per claim
loss payment
per insured
vehicle year
Nissan Maxima midsize car 1999 yes 112 3.0 $5,429 $16
    1998 no 770 7.8 $14,148 $110
Ford Ranger 4WD small pickup 1999 yes 79 2.0 $3,784 $7
    1998 no 137 2.0 $5,836 $12
Ford F-150 large pickup 1999 yes 198 2.3 $4,278 $10
    1998 no 786 3.3 $7,722 $25
Ford F-150 4WD large pickup 1999 yes 88 2.1 $2,852 $6
    1998 no 234 2.2 $6,956 $15
Chevrolet Venture large passenger van 1999 yes 18 0.7 $3,674 $3
    1998 no 56 0.8 $4,598 $4
All passenger cars   1999     2.2 $5,484 $12
    1998     2.5 $5,895 $15

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