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Avoiding Auto Theft in Texas

For vehicle owners, the only thing worse than going through automobile theft is finding out that your Texas car insurance policy does not completely cover your costs or costs associated with the theft.  On average, a vehicle is stolen in this country every thirty seconds. And according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Texas ranks second only to California in the number of auto thefts that are reported each year (85,350 in 2008 alone).  Many vehicles that are stolen are taken by professionals who drive stolen cars onto freight ships that are heading overseas or to a “chop” shop where cars are dismantled and sold on the black market for parts.  It is very important to be vigilant about automobile theft, and to take the following precautions to prevent your car from becoming part of a growing trend.

Don’t Overvalue Factory Theft Protection

Most thieves are well-trained in the art of disabling such systems, and can easily unlock theft deterrent devices like “the Club” and others.  Opt instead for an after-market device that is more sophisticated and that is installed by a professional.

Don’t Underestimate Your Vehicle’s Value

Don’t feel secure that your older car is safe because it’s not worth much.  Older vehicles are stolen everyday because there is a big market for their parts, especially cars that are no longer being manufactured.  The top five model years on car thieves’ wish lists last year were 1995, 1991, 1989, 1997, and 1994 models.  Surprising? Certainly.  What’s alarming, however, is that owners of older model cars fail to keep the type of Texas car insurance coverage on their vehicles that is needed to cover theft – so they are left without a car and without any compensation for their loss.

Know Everything About Your Vehicle

Keep a copy of the information about your car’s identification with you (not just in the glove box) in case your car is stolen. This will help you to report the car to the police faster, which increases the chances that the car will be found.  Write down the car’s license plate number and VIN (vehicle identification number) and keep it in your wallet; keep a copy of your car registration and proof of insurance as well, so that you can process your claim more quickly.

Make Sure You’ve Got the Right Coverage

Make sure that your Texas car insurance policy covers the cost of damages if your vehicle is stolen. You should also consider purchasing coverage for the cost of a replacement rental vehicle if you car is stolen, and find out if there is a waiting period before you would be covered to rent a car.  Rental car coverage is only a couple of dollars each month and well-worth the added expense.

Purchase Additional Coverage

Consider purchasing roadside assistance, available alongside your Texas car insurance policy with most companies, or through third-party companies like AAA.  This type of coverage often has provisions for vehicle owners whose cars are stolen.

Use Your Head

Take commonsense precautions to avoid having your car stolen.  In addition to beefing up your Texas car insurance policy to cover theft, always park in well-lit areas and keep your car locked, even when parking in your own driveway at home (one in three stolen vehicles is stolen from the vehicle owner’s home).