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High Theft Risk, High Auto Insurance Premiums

In the recently released J.D. Power and Associates survey on consumer satisfaction with auto insurance coverage, the statistics showed a big drop — a full 10 points — over 2009. Most people are unhappy with their auto policy because it just costs too much. People are comparison shopping and looking for deals.

One thing people may not want to hear, however, is that if they’re driving the most-stolen vehicle in America, that sucker has “risk” written all over it in 10-foot high letters. That’s going to translate to a higher premium no matter how much you shop for the best rate.

The questionable distinction of “most-stolen” goes to the Cadillac Escalade. And that’s not just for last year, but for the last ten years. Priced from $60,000 to $190,000, the Escalade is a popular heist. From 2007 to 2009, for every 1,000 Escalades insured in this county, 10.8 were reported stolen. Next in line was the Ford-F250, followed by the Infiniti G37, and then the Dodge Charger.

Drive a family car or something with a high miles-per-gallon rating? You can breathe a little easier. (Think Toyota Prius, Nissan Murano, Toyota Sienna, Volvo S80.) As a spokesman for the Highway Loss Data Institute put it, thieves want “chrome, horsepower, and Hemis.”

So what’s the lesson in insurance terms? As much as anyone hates to be driven by crime statistics, you do need to think before you buy. Getting adequate coverage for a vehicle with a high-theft reputation will be more expensive. That can be offset with advanced security options — both on the car and in the location where it will be parked or stored — but those things cost money, too.

Simply put, during a recession, when every dollar counts, and a monthly insurance bill is more of a hardship than ever, you may need to defer driving the high-powered car of your dreams unless you’re prepared to take high-powered options to protect it and spend high dollars to insure it.

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