These 10 Cities Are Hotbeds for Auto Theft

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  • Living in an area known for car theft can raise the cost of comprehensive coverage.
  • But it shouldn't affect how much a driver pays for liability or collision coverage.

If you live in one of these places, you probably want to lock your car doors.

Auto insurers take a lot of factors into consideration when giving a driver a quote. Some things, like a driver's history of tickets and accidents, make perfect sense, while other things, like their marital status or credit score, can seem irrelevant. But there's actually statistics to show that these factors can predict the likelihood of a driver getting into an accident.

Insurers also look at where a driver lives and the likelihood of accidents, natural disasters, and auto theft in that area. In the case of that last one, the following 10 cities sit at the top of the list of cities prone to carjackings.

These ten cities see the most car thefts every year

These 10 cities have the highest rate of car theft in the nation, according to the Insurance Information Institute:

  1. Bakersfield, California
  2. Yuba City, California
  3. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado
  4. Odessa, Texas
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California
  6. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  7. Pueblo, Colorado
  8. Billings, Montana
  9. St. Joseph, Missouri/Kansas
  10. Tulsa, Oklahoma

To be clear, these aren't necessarily the cities that see the most auto thefts overall. St. Joseph, for example, only saw 692 cars stolen in 2020. But the rate of car thefts per total vehicles in the area is extremely high.

Why insurers care

Living in an area prone to car theft may not be as concerning to an auto insurance company as a history of DUIs and speeding tickets, but it's still something they weigh when deciding how much to charge a driver.

If there's a greater risk of a vehicle being stolen, there's also a greater risk that the insurance company will have to pay the policyholder to replace the stolen vehicle. This can lead insurers to raise the policy's premium. But it depends on the coverage the driver wants.

The liability coverage that nearly all states require their drivers to carry doesn't provide any protection for the policyholder's own vehicle. It's designed to pay for damages to other people and property if the policyholder causes an accident. So if a driver only has state minimum coverage, their auto insurance provider won't have to pay a dime if someone steals the driver's vehicle.

This is a pretty significant gap in coverage, which is why many opt for full coverage car insurance. This adds two key protections: collision and comprehensive. Collision coverage pays to repair the driver's own vehicle after an accident, even if that accident is the driver's fault. Comprehensive coverage pays for losses due to severe weather, animal-vehicle collisions, vandalism, and theft.

Drivers living in areas with high rates of auto theft can expect to pay more for their comprehensive coverage, but the other protections may be unaffected.

How drivers can keep costs down

All drivers should shop around for new car insurance at least annually to see if they can find a better rate elsewhere. Get quotes from several providers and compare their coverage, rates, and customer service side by side to see which offers the best deal.

In addition, drivers might be able to save by keeping their vehicle in a garage rather than on the street or installing some sort of anti-theft device. Not all insurers offer discounts for this, though. Drivers who want to be rewarded for taking these safety measures should seek out companies that have these discounts.

Raising the policy's comprehensive insurance deductible is another option. This increases the amount a driver must pay out of pocket when filing a claim for auto theft. But it reduces the driver's monthly premiums. As long as the driver keeps enough in their emergency fund to cover the deductible, they shouldn't run into any financial issues when they need to file a claim.

Even in cities that experience high rates of auto theft, there are still many drivers who never experience it. But drivers who don't want to pay for a new vehicle on their own should consider adding comprehensive coverage to their auto insurance policy, even if it raises their monthly costs a little.

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