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Ontario auto theft claim costs surged past $1B last year

Auto theft claim costs reached a whopping $371.8 million in Toronto in 2023, making the city the costliest in Ontario when it comes to the claims cost of replacing stolen vehicles, newly released data shows.

Newly released data shows Toronto saw over $351M in auto theft claims costs in 2023

Cars in parking lot

Auto theft claim costs reached a whopping $371.8 million in Toronto in 2023, making the city the costliest in Ontario when it comes to the claims cost of replacing stolen vehicles, newly released data shows.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released on Tuesday a list of the top 10 costliest cities in Ontario for auto theft claims last year. Brampton, Mississauga, Vaughan, Markham and Ottawa followed Toronto on the list.

According to the bureau, auto theft claims costs surpassed $1 billion for the first time in Ontario last year. The bureau said auto theft claims costs have surged by 524 per cent in Ontario and by 561 per cent in Toronto since 2018.

"Ontario is seeing an alarming increase in auto theft claims and auto theft claims costs," Amanda Dean, vice-president, Ontario and Atlantic, for IBC, said in a news release on Tuesday.

"As IBC's numbers reveal, the Greater Toronto Area has been hit particularly hard by the auto theft crisis. These claims costs speak to the growing severity of the auto theft crisis in Ontario — a crisis that is having a material impact on auto insurance premiums, to say nothing of the concern and trauma it is causing Ontarians."

Between 2018 and 2023, the incidence of people making insurance claims due to theft of their vehicles increased by 165 per cent in Ontario, the release said. Between 2022 and 2023, the increase in auto theft claims was 21 per cent, while and the increase for auto theft claims costs was 32 per cent.

According to the data, the largest cities in Ontario tend to have the highest claims costs. However, the release said several mid-sized cities have experienced "staggering" increases in the theft claims costs, including Whitby, Pickering, Milton and Markham.

In Whitby, for example, auto theft claims costs have increased 2269 per cent between 2018 and 2023. Last year, auto theft claims costs were $12.14 million in Whitby, while in 2018, they were $512,751.

WATCH | Toronto saw more than $350 million in claims:

Toronto takes top spot as costliest city for auto theft claims

12 hours ago

Duration 1:44

Toronto has been ranked the costliest city for auto theft claims in Ontario. That’s according to a new report from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. In 2023, the city saw more than $350 million in claims, a 524 per cent jump since 2018. CBC's Tyler Cheese has more.

Auto theft requires layered approach, experts say

Elliott Silverstein, director of government relations for CAA Insurance, said on Tuesday that the numbers are not surprising and insurance companies know that auto theft is happening to more consumers across the province.

Everyone involved — consumers, insurance companies, government, auto makers and law enforcement — needs to work together to combat the problem because it's becoming more costly and frequent, he said.

"A lot of the vehicles that are being stolen are cars that are relatively new, so that when cars are being written off, they're almost at full value," he said.

Silverstein said the frequency of auto theft crime in Ontario has strained the insurance industry.

"The challenge with vehicle theft is that it's happening every day all across the country with no end in sight. It's like a catastrophic event happening every day of the year. And there's only so far that the insurance industry and insurers can go before consumers have to pay more," he said.

Bryan Gast, vice-president of investigative services at Équité Association, said that while some work has been done to try to reduce the numbers, there's still a lot more to do.

"This is all about money. This is not just a property crime. This is organized groups that are using the vehicle as a commodity and they're funding their criminal operations from it," Gast said.

A lot of vehicles from the GTA are being exported out of the country, he added.

Gast said there is no "magical bullet" to reduce auto theft. Organized crime groups need to be held responsible, law enforcement should be provided with the funding it need and vehicles need to be made harder to steal, he said.

Claims 'skyrocketing' in Ontario, bureau says

Dean, for her part, said in the release that auto theft has reached crisis levels.

"Auto theft is a national emergency," she said.

"We applaud the Ontario government for the significant investments it has made to help mitigate the crisis. However, more must be done to tighten the vehicle registration process to make it harder for criminals to re-VIN and sell stolen vehicles to unsuspecting Ontarians.

Dean said the bureau urges the provincial government and municipalities to work with the federal government to implement recommendations in the national action plan on combating auto theft, given that claims are "skyrocketing" in Ontario.

"This initiative must include measures that make it more difficult to transport and export stolen cars," Dean added.

The bureau is a national industry association that represents Canada's private home, auto and business insurers.

With files from Tyler Cheese

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