The National Insurance Crime Bureau has released reports suggesting the recent surge in fraudulent vehicle theft claims is directly related to the rising cost of fuel. Although no one has specifically linked the two trends, researchers are implying that a large number of truck and SUV owners are staging the theft and/or vandalism of their vehicles, ultimately using the insurance payout to buy smaller, more economical vehicles. Sound a little far-fetched? Keep reading.
According to the report run in the Miami Herald, in December of 2004, when gas priced at about $1.65 a gallon, the monthly total of “suspicious claims” number about 40. By the time the cost of gas-per-gallon hit $3.85 in December of 2007, that figure had more than doubled to equal 96. Further supporting the argument; according to current data, six of the top 10 most-stolen vehicles are trucks and SUVs. In addition to long time favorites like the Cadillac Escalade, new favorites on the list this year include both the Dodge Ram 1500 and the Ford F-150, pick-up trucks that average 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy and 14mpg city/19mpg hwy, respectively.
Despite the fact that insurance fraud is a felony and arguably more difficult to realistically simulate than a routine traffic accident, barring any obvious discrepancies, an owner isn’t assessed for fault when their vehicle is stolen. Since a theft isn’t a “pointable” offense, it doesn’t typically carry any penalty with most insurance carriers. Thus, unlike an accident, a claimant can collect the comprehensive insurance check without seeing their premiums skyrocket.