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More Ontario drivers being told to install tracking devices – but at their own expense

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More Canadian auto insurance companies are calling on some of their customers to install anti-theft tracking devices. But while certain insurers will pay for the installation of the system, others won’t.

“If they want me to put this in, I want them to pay for it,” Elaine Goldsmith of Newmarket, Ont. told CTV News Toronto of the preferred system being used by the vast majority of insurers: Tag. “My car sits in a garage 90 per cent of the time — in a locked garage."

Goldsmith recently got a letter from her insurance company Belairdirect that said her 2021 Honda Accord is considered to be at high risk of being stolen.

She said she was told in a letter: “An additional $500 high theft risk premium will be applied to the 2021 Honda Accord when your policy renews.”

Goldsmith said she can avoid the increase by paying $249.95 plus tax for the Tag anti-theft system to be installed in her car.

However, she said because she leases her car she’s concerned if she installs the system, when she returns her car to the dealership within the next year, she will then have to pay for another anti-theft device to be installed.

“By the time I turn this car in and get another one I’m going to have to do the same thing. That’s $600 in the hole for me,” said Goldsmith.

Arwinder Kalsi was told last year he must install the Tag anti-theft system on his truck, but his insurance company agreed to pay for it.

Goldsmith feels if her insurance company wants the device installed they should cover the cost.

“I believe if they are that concerned they should pay the cost of installing the device,” said Goldsmith.

Belairdirect told CTV News Toronto in a statement: “Instead of redistributing the costs of installing the TAG to all of our customers, we have chosen a targeted approach and recommend that customers who own a car at risk install the best protection on the market on their vehicle.”

Canadian auto insurance companies have seen an increase of more than 329 per cent in auto theft over the past five years and in 2022 alone lost $1 billion to car thieves, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

IBC said insurance companies are trying to reduce auto theft and the tracking devices lead to the recovery of stolen vehicles.

“This is a national crisis and certainly an epidemic here in Ontario,” said Amanda Dean, IBC’s Vice-President of Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

Dean said while some insurers pay for the system, others may subsidize it. If you lease your vehicle you need to check your contract before one is installed.

"If a consumer decides to install an aftermarket tracking device they should contact their leasing company to determine if there are any financial incentives available to them and also to insure there are no restrictions to installing one in their leasing contract,” said Dean.

Goldsmith is frustrated that despite a clean driving record she said her insurance continually goes up because her vehicle is considered high risk.

"So someone like me, with no claims, no infractions, and no tickets has to pay more. It just feels unfair,” said Goldsmith.

Before buying a vehicle you should check to see if it's considered at risk of being stolen and call your insurance company in advance because there could be a big difference in premiums and you may need to install a tracking device.      

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