Auto theft claims in Ontario have increased by 524% and now exceed $1 billion


New data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) shows car thefts across Canada have skyrocketed in recent years.

Stolen vehicle claims rose to a “record-breaking” $1.5 billion in 2023, bringing car theft claims to $1 billion in the second year.

There has been an increase in claims of almost 20 percent since 2022.

The IBC reported that the cost of auto theft claims averaged $556 million per year between 2018 and 2021. And in five years (2018-2023), auto theft claims increased by 254 percent nationwide.

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Chart from CNW Group/IBC showing how auto theft claim costs have risen sharply over the years.

In an official statement, Liam McGuinty, the bureau's vice president of strategy, said these shocking numbers show how car theft impacts the lives of Canadians and causes trauma and concern.

“It places a heavy burden on law enforcement and court personnel who work tirelessly to solve these crimes,” he states. “Canada’s car theft crisis is also putting pressure on drivers’ insurance premiums – as car theft continues to rise, so do associated costs. Car theft is not a victimless crime.”

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What claims have looked like over the years, at a glance. Graphic courtesy of CNW Group/IBC.

According to the FBI's findings, new and high-end luxury vehicles are often lucrative targets, “due in part to their desirability in illicit international markets.”

“In many cases, stolen vehicles are exported to these markets by domestic and international criminal organizations. The proceeds are then used to finance drug trafficking, arms trafficking and international terrorism,” the grim report says.

Officials recommend taking more measures at the federal and provincial levels to make it more difficult to steal, transport and export vehicles.

“Insurers have taken proactive steps to help consumers combat car theft, but they cannot do it alone. We need a whole-of-society approach,” McGuinty said.

He believes more attention needs to be paid to modernizing Canada's outdated vehicle safety standards, which were last updated in 2007, 17 years ago.

At the provincial level, Ontario suffered the most, with car theft claims increasing by 524 per cent between 2018 and 2023, exceeding $1 billion for the first time in 2023.

Ontario is the only province whose data has been released to date. IBC says it will release province-specific data in the coming weeks.

“IBC and its members look forward to the important next steps set out in the federal government’s action plan to combat car theft,” McGuinty concluded.

Some people are now using steering locks and tracking devices to protect their vehicles from theft.