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Thanks to improved security technology, stealing cars might be more complicated than it used to be, but thieves are innovative, and vehicle theft still happens. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), car thefts actually increased in 2020 to the highest rate since 2009.

Anti-theft systems and devices not only help prevent your vehicle from being stolen but can also lower your car insurance rate. Ask your current insurance provider if they offer an anti-theft discount.

Quick Facts
  • Anti-theft devices and systems could help you save money on your car insurance premiums for comprehensive coverage.

  • Discounts for anti-theft devices range between 3% and 25%.

  • Not all companies offer these discounts.

What’s an anti-theft device discount?

How do I get an anti-theft device discount on car insurance?

Most insurance companies offer policyholders an anti-theft discount if their vehicles have security alarms or other technology installed that reduces the risk of theft.

Many companies offer car insurance discounts for things that make it less likely they’ll have to pay you a big claim. Since auto theft is a loss that’s covered by most car insurance companies (under comprehensive coverage), it’s in their best interest to decrease the chance they’ll have to pay for your stolen car.

That’s why most big insurers provide discounts that incentivize vehicle owners to install anti-theft devices and buy vehicles that are equipped with protections. For example, if you have a built-in car alarm or add a steering wheel lock, you might be able to get a break on your insurance premium.

Depending on the company, anti-theft discounts can range from 5% to 25% on the comprehensive coverage portion (which covers non-collision damage) of your policy.

Insurance Companies That Offer Anti-theft Discounts

Most of the bigger national companies offer a discount on comprehensive insurance if you have one or more anti-theft devices. These companies include but are not limited to:

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Types of Anti-theft Devices

There are two main types of anti-theft devices: active (which you must manually activate) and passive (which automatically monitor your car). Discounts may vary by which and how many devices you’re using. The downside of active devices is that you have to remember to turn them on, so it’s recommended that you add a layer of passive protection as well.

Active Anti-theft Devices

  • Car alarm systems that must be manually turned on

  • Steering wheel locks, which also serve as a visual warning to potential car thieves

  • Brake locks (small, metal devices that attach to the pedal so it can’t operate)

  • Immobilizing devices, like kill switches (which cut off electricity in your car or disable its fuel pump), wireless authentication, or a fuse disabler. Note that some car thieves are capable of bypassing these systems, especially in more expensive vehicles, with radio frequency amplification.

  • Remote locks that allow you to lock your car from your smartphone

  • Remote disabling devices, which can disable a car’s brakes from afar. These are very expensive, though, and usually only used on commercial vehicles.

  • VIN etching, which means engraving the federal vehicle identification number (VIN) directly and visibly onto the windows and windshield. This serves as a visual deterrent to would-be thieves and makes a stolen car harder to sell, either as a whole or in part. Most auto shops can do VIN etching, and you can also order DIY kits online.

  • Remove a fuse for either the starter or the fuel pump from the fuse box under the hood of your vehicle; note that while this will prevent theft, it likely won’t lower your insurance premium.

Passive Anti-theft Devices

  • Automatic disabling features, such as a car that won’t operate unless its corresponding key fob is within range

  • Vehicle tracking systems, like OnStar, that use GPS trackers to locate your car; these are usually subscription-based systems.

  • Vehicle recovery systems like LoJack, which are small transmitters that you keep in your car and will send a radio signal to police if stolen; LoJack claims a 90% recovery rate, but if your car is in a remote location, the radio signal might not work.

It’s recommended that you layer multiple anti-theft protections by using at least one active and one passive anti-theft device.

How frequent is car theft?

First, a leading cause of car theft is leaving your key fob inside. According to the Insurance Information Institute, in the years from 2016 to 2018, 209 vehicles were stolen every day simply because the owner forgot to take their key with them.

While auto theft has generally been on the decline for the last 25 years, the III reported a huge spike in 2020: 810,000 vehicles were stolen, an 11.8% increase from the year before and the highest per capita rate since 2009. California saw more auto thefts than any state in the country, and Bakersfield, California, saw the most of any city in the country.

And sometimes, thieves take only a part of the vehicle. Thefts of a certain car part — catalytic converters — quadrupled in 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Catalytic converters are important for helping reduce a vehicle’s harmful emissions, and they cost thousands of dollars to replace.

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Protect Your Vehicle and Save Money with Anti-theft Devices

Neither you nor your insurance company wants to deal with your car being stolen. You can help save everyone the hassle by making sure your doors are locked, taking your fob, and using at least one anti-theft device. Such a device might also lower the cost of your car’s comprehensive insurance, which is the part of your policy that covers damage from things other than collisions.

An insurance agent from your current company will be able to tell you if they offer anti-theft discounts. If you’re shopping for a new plan and want to make sure you get the best deal, compare prices and policies online.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I do if my car is stolen?

    First, contact local law enforcement to file a stolen vehicle report immediately. If you have a tracking system, call the company. Then, contact your auto insurer. If you have comprehensive insurance, your loss will be covered, but even if you don’t have comprehensive coverage, you still need to notify your insurer. You also need to notify your loan/leasing company.

  • What should I do if my stolen car is recovered?

    Around 60% of stolen vehicles are recovered. If you’re in that situation, check to see what personal belongings might have been taken. Your car insurance won’t cover these losses, but your home or renters insurance might. You also need to contact your car insurance company so they can assess any damage that may have occurred.

  • What is the best car anti-theft device?

    There’s no single best anti-theft device since most devices are vulnerable to some sort of override or work-around if a thief is determined or skilled enough. The best way to protect your car is to use multiple anti-theft systems and common sense, like making sure your doors are locked, keeping valuables out of sight, and parking in safe, well-lit, visible areas.

  • How can I save money on my car insurance?

    Ask your insurer about discounts you might be eligible for, and consider bundling your car insurance with your renters or homeowners coverage. Make sure you don’t have gaps in your auto insurance coverage, and keep your credit and driving history in good shape — bad marks in these areas will cost you. And always shop around by getting car insurance quotes from multiple companies.

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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.

Mallory Profeta
Mallory ProfetaInsurance Writer

Mal Profeta is a writer, editor, educator, and public health advocate. They serve as the communications director of an NIH-funded clinical and translational science research center that focuses on addressing health disparities in Appalachia. A former Fulbright recipient, they hold a bachelor's degree from Transylvania University and a master's from New York University.