Drive down your insurance rates by as much as 25%.
An antitheft system not only helps keep your car safe, it can also be an easy way to pump the brakes on high car insurance rates. But you may want to weigh the cost of installing the device with the savings from an antitheft discount.
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Antitheft devices and insurance rates
Without an antitheft device or system in place, your car makes an easy target for a thief, and your insurance provider knows it. This is compounded if you leave your car parked in the street overnight or while you’re at work, especially if you live or work in an area with high crime rates.
High car insurance rates are a function of risk. That is, the more risk you and your car present to an insurance provider, the more that provider is going to charge you for coverage. So it follows that when you lower that risk, your rates are likely to come down, too.
Types of antitheft devices
Deterring break-ins and thefts can involve a lot more than the standard car alarm. Here are a handful of other options that can make your car safer, give you some peace of mind and help reduce your car insurance rates.
This could be anything from a steering wheel lock bar to a wheel or tire lock, and it’s typically the cheapest route. A basic locking bar to immobilize the steering wheel starts at around $25, and a tire lock or gear-shift lock can be found for less than $100. A mechanical all-manual solution is preferred by many motorists because it’s easy to instal, cheap and you don’t need to modify the vehicle.
These work to immobilize or stall the vehicle if someone attempts to start it without the correct key or fob. The key and fob that come with newer cars, include small transponder chips that communicate with the car’s ignition system. If a would-be thief tries to start the car or drive off without the proper key or transponder communicating with the car’s ignition, the car will turn itself off and most likely lock up its ignition system, preventing further attempts until you or a mechanic resets the system.
But it’s usually expensive to install a system like this. The low end options tend to cost around $500, and if a vehicle isn’t already equipped with electronic immobilization, a new device is probably not compatible with older systems. If you want this feature on your vehicle, you may want to look for it as an installed option when you purchase a newer vehicle car.
This allows you to disable a vehicle until you want to drive it again, meaning that even if a thief did manage to break into the car, they wouldn’t be able to drive away. Some kill switches are simple, physical switches you can hide beneath the dashboard or inside the center console — these allow you to easily reach down, disengage the kill switch and start your car.
Other varieties might require certain functions to be performed, like pumping the brake pedal once or putting on your seat belt before the car can be started. And some can be enabled remotely with a wireless remote or even a mobile phone app. The price for a kill switch varies according to how sophisticated it is, but a basic physical kill switch can be $20 to $30 and high end options can run $200 to $300.
Your VIN, or vehicle identification number, is typically engraved or stamped into a small plaque that’s mounted somewhere inside your vehicle. In this case, it can be destroyed or removed, allowing the car to be stripped for parts or sold by a thief. But by etching the windows and other parts that are difficult to remove with that VIN number, you can deter a thief and also make it easier to track your vehicle if it still ends up being stolen.
A DIY VIN etching kit is only $20 to $30, but if you’d rather trust it to a professional, you can have VIN etching or engraving done to a whole host of vehicle parts including engine components for around $100.
Vehicle tracking system
This is usually the most expensive option, but it’s also highly effective if your vehicle winds up stolen and transported somewhere. A vehicle tracking system involves placing a GPS homing device on or inside the vehicle.
The two most popular providers of this system are OnStar and LoJack. OnStar’s system comes standard on new vehicles from a handful of manufacturers including GM, Acura, Audi, Isuzu and Volkswagen. Installing a tracking system on your vehicle could cost anywhere from $300 to $1,400, but depending on the value of your vehicle and its likelihood of being stolen, the cost could be worth it to you.
How much money can you save with an antitheft car insurance discount?
You could save anywhere from 5% to 25% on your insurance policy, depending on where you live and what kind of antitheft device is installed.
With the average cost of car insurance at $800, that could mean saving $40 to $200 or more every year. That could pay for the cost of an antitheft device after the first year or two.
As appealing as it sounds to save some money on your auto insurance, there’s an even better reason to install antitheft on your car: protecting the car and everything inside. The financial savings from preventing a break in could end up being pretty significant.
Which providers offer discounts for having an antitheft device installed on your car?
Nearly all auto insurance providers will give you some kind of discount for having an antitheft device. A few providers, however, give higher discounts than the rest:
While data on this topic from other large providers wasn’t readily available, it’s very likely that your insurer has some sort of discount for having antitheft installed in your vehicle. However, there could be certain criteria that the system needs.
For example, the discount may not be available in your state or may stipulate that the antitheft device be part of the car’s original build — excluding you from any discount benefit if you planned to install something yourself after purchasing the car.
It’s also possible to void warranties on the parts you modify, or even the entire vehicle’s warranty. It’s a good idea to contact an agent, or read through your policy, to learn more about this discount and whether it applies to you.
Bottom line: Is it worth it to buy an antitheft device?
In almost all cases, yes, it’s worth it. But it’s certainly a good idea to ask your insurance provider first. Most insurance providers will quote you a lower rate if your car has antitheft, and the better your installed device, the better your discount is likely to be.
That being said, the discount you have in mind might be minimal, or not available in your state. Your insurer could stipulate that to qualify for an antitheft device discount, your car would need to have originally been fitted with an alarm or tracking system at the time the car was built in the factory.
To learn more about car insurance and how you can get the best value from your provider, visit the comprehensive car insurance guide.