LoJack’s Move into New Mexico Could Mean Cheaper Premiums

LoJack’s stolen vehicle recovery system will be expanding into New Mexico in December at the request of public safety officials there, the car security company announced this week.

The company said that its Stolen Vehicle Recovery Network, which locates LoJack-equipped vehicles through a radio transmitter activated at the driver’s request, will be available in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces.

Tony Lynn, director of policy, coordination and public affairs at the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (DPS), told Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN) that the state office asked LoJack for the expansion to better arm motorists and authorities there with anti-theft tools.

LoJack traces a vehicle through a radio transmitter installed in the car. If an owner finds his or her car gone, they can go to the police, file a report, then activate the transmitter so that police can follow its signal.

“We invited LoJack in because we saw that the system wasn’t being used in New Mexico,” Lynn told OAIN. “We thought it’d be a good deterrent for people to know it was around here and a good tool for drivers who’ve had their cars stolen.”

Randy Ortiz, LoJack’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the company was “flattered” with being approached by DPS for the expansion. Currently, LoJack is integrating its technology into public infrastructure like “radio towers and police tracking computers,” according to the company, which is also training officers in the Albuquerque Police Department and state’s Department of Public Safety on how to use the system to recover vehicles.

According to LoJack, more than 90 percent of stolen vehicles with the company’s recovery system have been found.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a little over half of all stolen cars are ultimately recovered.

Albuquerque Tops New Mexico’s Hot Spots for Theft

Albuquerque is the highest-ranked metropolitan area in New Mexico in terms of theft numbers and theft rate, according to the latest “Hot Spots” report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The report showed 3,730 thefts reported in the Albuquerque metro area in 2012.

Santa Fe was the metro area with the next-highest theft numbers, followed by Las Cruces then Farmington.

“Hot Spots” ranked Albuquerque having the 20th-highest theft rate of metro areas in the U.S. Albuquerque had the highest theft rate of any metro area in the Southwest outside of California.

NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi said that New Mexico’s auto theft figures have held steady over recent years, with the problem heavily concentrated in the Albuquerque region.

“Albuquerque is one metro with higher theft rates compared to the rest of the nation, but the silver lining is that other states in the U.S. wish they had the numbers that New Mexico has,” he told OAIN.

LoJack Expansion Could Impact Insurance Rates

LoJack getting going in New Mexico could mean more to motorists than better car security; it could also mean lower car insurance rates.

“Preventative measures” like installing a LoJack system into a vehicle could mean a discount on New Mexico auto insurance premiums, according to Lynn.

“I would check with your insurance company to see if LoJack fits as one of those discounts,” he said.

Even if a New Mexico motorist can’t immediately benefit from the LoJack expansion, it could still yield something good over time for policyholders there.

One of the LoJack’s possible benefits—fewer insurance claims for stolen cars—could mean lower premiums for comprehensive coverage for an area. Comprehensive is an optional policy purchase that protects policyholders against instances of theft.

“When insurance companies look at what they need to do to set pricing in an area, some things that they look at include historic claims activity and the potential to generate claims,” said Scafidi. “Anything showing that an area will generate more insurance claims will run up rates, and vice versa.”

However, Scafidi said, policyholders in New Mexico shouldn’t expect a “quick turnaround” in their policy’s price tag if LoJack does indeed have an impact on theft rates.

“It could show up in your premium at some point, but it’s not that quick to see an increase or decrease,” he told OAIN.

As Border State, New Mexico Faces Unique Theft Problem

In its statement about the expansion, LoJack cited federal data showing that 1 out of every 3 cars stolen in the U.S. is stolen out of the four states bordering Mexico, including New Mexico.

“Being a border state, criminals sometimes take stolen cars across the border,” said Lynn. “The quicker we can recover them, the better chance they’re not gone for good.”
Scafidi agreed.

“If the intent is to get away with a stolen vehicle, what better state to steal it in than a border state?” said Scafidi. “Frankly, the focus in the U.S. since 9/11 is everything coming into the country, so outbound traffic has gotten less attention.”

Scafidi called the expansion a “good investment,” saying that anything bolstering the prospect of vehicle recovery when it is stolen is welcomed by the insurance industry.

“LoJack is a good product for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it’ll have a positive effect on auto thefts for the state,” he said.

Lynn said that motorists can also adopt simple preventive measures to ward off the possibility of theft.

“Always keep your car locked,” he said. “Every little bit helps to make it as hard as possible for a thief to get your car.”

The NHTSA also offers a prevention check-list as part of a prevention campaign that ramps up in summer months, when auto theft rates typically hit their peak.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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