DC car insurance premiums soar amid auto theft, carjacking surge

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Car owners in the Washington, D.C., area are seeing auto insurance premiums soar as the city grapples with a surge in carjacking and auto theft.

Residents of the District of Columbia paid the sixth-highest amount on car insurance when compared to the 50 states in 2023 with an average annual full-coverage rate of $2,756 last year – which amounts to nearly $230 a month, according to a report by Insurify. The report found that Washington, D.C., residents’ car insurance premiums were 37% higher than the national average, which was $2,019 for a full-coverage policy, as national auto insurance rates increased by 24% last year.

Police data show carjackings in the nation’s capital spiked by 97.9% in 2023 with 958 reported carjackings last year compared to 484 in 2022, with motor vehicle theft up 82% from 3,756 in 2022 to 6,829 in 2023. Vehicle theft in the greater Washington-Maryland-Virginia area also rose by 68% last year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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The carjacking surge in Washington, D.C., made headlines last week when Mike Gill, who worked at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during the Trump administration and was most recently working for the Housing Policy Council, was shot during a carjacking and later died of his wounds.

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Police believe that the gunman, identified as 28-year-old Artell Cunningham, went on a carjacking spree that night after shooting Gill. Authorities said he attempted to steal another vehicle around an hour later and approached others demanding their keys, before shooting and killing 35-year-old Alberto Vasquez, Jr., then driving off with his car. Cunningham was later shot and killed by law enforcement after two more carjackings, according to FOX 5 DC.

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The rise in carjackings and thefts contributes to the increase in auto insurance premiums, as insurers look to address potential losses in high-risk areas, an Insurify expert explained. 

“The premium increases affecting auto owners in Washington, D.C., is a direct result of the dynamics of the insurance industry,” Betsy Stella, vice president of carrier management and operations at Insurify, told FOX Business. “The cost of risk, in this case, geographical risk of theft, is spread across a large number of premium payers – each of whom pays a relatively small amount.” 

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“In addition to relatively high theft rates, the rise in premiums can be attributed to various factors, including an increase in negligent driving incidents, inflationary pressures, and heightened costs of vehicle repairs,” Stella added.

As far as what consumers who are facing a dramatic increase in their car insurance can do but wish to maintain full coverage policies, Stella said that some insurers may offer discounts in certain situations to help offset those increases.

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“Many insurance companies will offer discounts to offset increasing rates. For example, if your vehicle has an anti-theft system, you may be eligible for a reduced premium,” Stella said. “The pricing strategies of insurance companies are tied to loss experience, considering multiple factors such as the geographical area where a vehicle is stored.”

Fox News’ Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.

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