A significant increase in vehicle theft and vandalism in California has led to a surge in comprehensive auto insurance claims in the state, a new report from Mercury Insurance says.
According to the report, comprehensive auto insurance claims have gone up 40% since pre-pandemic levels. Northern California reported nearly twice the comprehensive auto claim frequency of Southern California, the report said, with smaller population density areas reporting a much higher theft rate than areas with larger populations.
Based on Mercury Insurance’s comprehensive claims data, the top five vehicles for claims during the pandemic were:
- Toyota Prius
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Tacoma
- Toyota Camry
"Thieves love the Toyota Prius," said Mercury Insurance vice president and chief claims officer Randy Petro. "The frequency of claims for this vehicle compared to the other vehicles on the list is nearly double. If you own a Prius, be extra careful of where you park and what you keep in it."
The report also cited data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which found that California is the top US state in terms of car thefts. Motor vehicle thefts in the state have increased nearly 24% since 2019, the bureau noted.
Mercury Insurance also noted that although the increase in auto theft and vandalism began during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the theft of audio and other car parts continues to rise as pandemic restrictions are lifted. The insurer also observed that nearly 22% of comprehensive claim losses occur at night.
"Thieves have been waiting for this moment," said Petro. "Staying vigilant and keeping in mind good practices when you leave your vehicle can help reduce the likelihood of your car being stolen or damaged. Comprehensive coverage provides that extra peace of mind knowing you will be covered from theft or vandalism."