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Install a tracking system or pay an extra premium?

A tracking system and an additional premium for policyholders.

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Jeep vehicles are on the list of cars most popular with thieves in the country.

  • Katherine Brulotte (View profile)Katherine Brulotte

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Insurance companies require their customers to install a GPS tracking system on their car deemed to be at high risk of theft, otherwise they risk having to pay hundreds of dollars in additional costs.

Radio-Canada obtained copies of letters from four different insurance companies sent to customers. In all cases, car owners are informed that their vehicle is considered at high risk of theft.

Companies offer policyholders two choices: install a geolocation system selected by the insurer and offered by a single supplier or pay an additional premium of up to $500.

These surcharges have been approved by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA). In an email to Radio-Canada, she asserts that companies must be supported by ample and detailed evidence of the existence of an increased risk.

The insurers contacted refuse to confirm which vehicles are on the list of those at risk, but point out that a list of the 10 most stolen vehicles is published by Équité Association, which represents the automobile industry ;insurance.

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The Insurance Crime Association annually draws up a list of the vehicles most frequently targeted by thieves.

The list includes almost exclusively pickup trucks and utility vehicles, led by the Honda CRV.

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The senior vice-president of personal insurance at belairdirect, Guillaume Lamy, estimates that the cars covered by this measure represent approximately 1% of the company's customer base.

We believe that it is our responsibility as an insurer to offer solutions so that our customers are well protected.

A quote from Guillaume Lamy, first vice-president, belairdirect

The senior public relations advisor at Desjardins Assurances, Véronique Breton, adds that the measure does not affect the owners of these vehicles across the country, but rather the owners of a vehicle at very high risk of theft who live in a risk zone raised in Quebec and Ontario.

Samantha Sannella is well aware that her Jeep model vehicle is likely to attract the attention of thieves. I am a member of several Jeep owners groups and one is stolen almost every day, says the Torontonian.

She happily agrees to install technology that could to protect your vehicle, but deplores the imposition of precise technology and a single supplier.

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Samantha Sannella is part of groups of Jeep owners and sees a lot of theft around her.

All the letters consulted by Radio-Canada offer the same geolocation system, Tag, of which the company Speedy Glass or Duro is the sole supplier.

The bill for installing the technology is $400, but agreements with certain insurers allow it to be obtained at a discount.

Steve Gimza took advantage of a promotion from his insurer to have the tracking system installed for free last year and was despite himself able to try it out.

I woke up and the car had disappeared from in front of my house, he explains. A few hours after contacting the Tag company, his car was found on a street in his neighborhood.

Despite this experience, he would refuse to pay for installing this system on your next vehicle. In my opinion, it is the insurer's responsibility to pay for this system if they want me to install it.

Desjardins offered free installation of the Tag system for a short time, but has since put the responsibility of the installation in the hands of its customers, just like belairdirect .

Guillaume Lamy judges that this practice is more equitable. Instead of redistributing Tag installation costs to all of our customers, we chose a more targeted approach for vehicles at higher risk of theft, says the first vice-president.

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The policyholders consulted for this report also said they were concerned about the use that the insurance company could make of geolocation information. However, the insurance companies which responded to Radio-Canada confirm that access to the data is only possible if a theft is reported.

Tag is a stolen vehicle tracking and recovery system; it is not used to analyze driving habits and behaviors. Desjardins Assurances is only informed of the location of the vehicle after a theft and when the police have recovered it.

A quote from Véronique Breton, senior public relations advisor, Desjardins

The choice of a unique supplier and technology by advertising companies Insurance does not surprise automobile columnist Benoit Charette, who describes the practice as dirigisme.

He points out that insurers often have agreements with suppliers. It exists in accident repairs, it exists in the installation of products, he says.

Insurers deny however obtain any financial benefit from their customer's installation of the system.

Mr. Charette also emphasizes that, although effective, geolocation technology is not infallible. He suggests that thieves are developing tools capable of blocking, at least temporarily, signals from GPS systems.

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