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Auto insurers telling drivers to install anti-theft measures or pay higher premium

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As automotive thefts continue to run rampant across Canada, auto insurers are forcing drivers to choose between installing costly anti-theft measures or paying higher premiums.

It's the exact scenario North Algona Wilberforce resident Kimberley Ashick was faced with after purchasing a new 2022 Dodge Ram 1500.

"I got a letter about putting an immobilizer in it, and if I didn't, my insurance was going up another $1,500 on top of what I'm paying," she told CTV News.

"And I went, oh my God, are you kidding me?"

On her previous vehicle, a 2015 Toyota RAV-4, Ashick says her yearly insurance premium with CAA Insurance was about $540.

After installing the immobilizer in her new RAM pickup truck, her insurance is now over $1,100 yearly. She says the anti-theft device cost her nearly $700 itself.

In a statement to CTV News, CAA Insurance said, "Everyone has a role in combatting auto theft, including policyholders who have vehicles highly sought out by thieves. […] policyholders with vehicles identified as having a high theft risk are now subject to a High Theft Risk Premium Surcharge."

Ashick said living in rural eastern Ontario didn't appear to make a difference. 

"I live in rural Renfrew County. I don't think the thefts are really happening around here. It's the bigger cities like Ottawa, Toronto," Ashick said. "I tried to explain to them, that we're out so far I don't think it's happening in this area. And I was between a rock and a hard place. They gave pretty much gave me no choice."

In 2023, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said insurers paid out more than $1.5-billion in claims to replace stolen vehicles, a record high.

It's a reality that has Ashick now worried to take her new vehicle into larger cities.

"Even going to a concert in Ottawa, I was really nervous to leave my vehicle there. I know people's Dodges have got stolen from there while they're in the concert. I'm very nervous to take it to the city," she said.

"Had I known beforehand, I probably wouldn't have bought the Dodge."

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