car theft

FBI data show that the annual number of motor vehicle thefts in Louisiana fell by more than a third between 2006 and 2010, a trend the state commissioner of insurance says could result in dropping prices for comprehensive coverage in the state.

In 2006, there were more than 15,600 vehicles stolen statewide. By 2010, that number declined to about 9,890–a drop of about 37 percent.

The reductions reflected in the 2009 and 2010 numbers were the most prominent, with each of those years’ annual theft volumes posting double-digit drops from the previous year.

Between 2009 and 2010, the drop was 15.6 percent.

Louisiana ranks right around the middle when compared with theft rates from other states, and its rate is just slightly higher than the national average.

In 2009, there was on average 1 theft for every 167 cars registered in the state. The nationwide average was 1 theft for every 169 registered vehicles.

Possible Implications for Comprehensive Policy Prices

It’s not clear how many owners of the 9,890 vehicles stolen in 2010 were compensated for their losses.

The only type of Louisiana car insurance that protects car owners against vehicle theft is comprehensive coverage, and motorists in the state are not required to add that optional coverage type to a policy.

The majority of motorists who buy policies in the state do end up opting to buy the optional coverage–about 74 percent of policies issued in 2009 included comprehensive coverage, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)–but those without it are left without any compensation for their lost property if their cars are stolen.

NAIC data show the average price of comprehensive coverage in the state was about $212 in 2009.

Commissioner Jim Donelon said in his announcement that the average price may be lowered in the long run because of lower theft volumes.

“This is good news for everyone with comprehensive auto insurance since motor vehicle theft is one of the several determining factors considered by insurance companies when setting auto insurance premiums,” Donelon said in a statement.

But not all Louisiana consumers should be counting on a price break.

Though FBI statistics may show a decline statewide, some insurers will feel that decline more than others. And insurers tend to price policies based on smaller, regional data sets rather than look at general, statewide statistics.

In addition, increases in weather-related claims, for example, have the potential to wipe out positive trends like drops in theft rates.