What does high risk mean in insurance?

In insurance, risk is everything. Risk is what an insurance company “accepts” in exchange for your monthly, semi-annual, or annual payments – or “premiums,” as they’re referred to in the insurance world. When you’ve been labelled high-risk, you’re someone whose risk is greater than the average. Often, as a result, your premiums will be higher (but that’s not the only impact).

Being high-risk isn’t a good thing, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get affordable insurance. Let’s dig in a little more into what being high-risk might mean for you.

Why was I labelled as high risk?

High-risk usually applies to auto insurance, but it can apply to home insurance as well. To have been labelled as high-risk, it’s likely that you’re someone who:

  • Has been involved in multiple at-fault accidents
  • Has received multiple speeding violations or tickets
  • Has been cancelled previously due to non-payment
  • Has been convicted of insurance fraud
  • Has been convicted of major violations, like DUI
  • Has a rural or non-standard property
  • Has a home that’s 100 years or older

If you’ve ever been told that you’re a high-risk driver or have a high-risk home, odds are it’s because of one or more of the reasons listed above. Sometimes, young drivers or inexperienced drivers (including immigrant drivers, who may not have had their driving history carry over from their country of origin) may see similar rate hikes as high-risk drivers, but may not have the same high-risk label.

What happens if I’ve been labelled high-risk?

Being high-risk means you do not qualify for standard insurance. You’ll probably end up paying more for your insurance, sometimes two or three times as much. You’ll be required to purchase non-standard insurance, otherwise known as “high-risk” insurance.

What happens if you’ve been labelled high-risk? How is it different than ordinary insurance?

  • High-risk insurance always costs more than standard insurance. It can cost a minimum of 20% more, but sometimes up to 2-3x as much. It depends on your insurance company and why you’ve been labelled as high-risk.
  • Your payment options may be significantly limited. The most common reason why drivers are labelled as high-risk is due to non-payment. As a high-risk policyholder you may only be able to pay via certain means, or may be forced to pay for your policy upfront.
  • Your coverage will be limited. You may not be able to customize your policy nearly as much as if you had standard insurance. You’ll usually have capped liability limits, higher deductibles, and your policy may have certain conditions placed on it.

Being high-risk won’t just affect you. If it’s for your auto insurance, every other driver listed on your policy will also be impacted. It may also impact others living in your household.

How long will I be considered high-risk?

It depends on why you were high-risk in the first place.

For homes, it’s a little more difficult. Usually, if you weren’t cancelled due to non-payment in the past, your home is high-risk due to its infrastructure or where it’s located. You may be stuck with your high-risk label, unless you make certain modifications to your home, such as renovating its roof, older features, etc. Ask an agent for ways to save on high-risk home insurance, or discuss your situation with us and we’ll see if we can make some suggestions.

For cars and auto insurance, it boils down to time. Whether you were cancelled due to non-payment or for an at-fault accident, usually your high-risk label will fall off after 3-6 years. During this time, we recommend reviewing defensive driving habits, avoiding impaired driving, setting up automatic withdrawals or being upfront and honest with your broker if you’re ever unsure if you can make your insurance payments on time. If your financial situation is especially tight, you may wish to consider alternative transportation until your rates can come back down with time.

Who are the best insurance companies for high-risk?

Not every company offers high-risk insurance, but it’s important to find one that works for you and your budget if you are ever labelled as high-risk. The right company will offer decent coverage options at low rates (low as far as high-risk goes) and potentially even offer discounts to help you save even more.

Here are some of the best insurance companies if you’ve been labelled high-risk:

  • Progressive
  • State Auto
  • SafeCo
  • American Modern

To discuss more about high-risk insurance, or recommendations on how to save money despite a high-risk label, give us a call at 913-839-1478 today or get a free quote. AHI Group is more than happy to walk you through your new circumstances or connect you with an insurance company who specializes in high-risk insurance policies, saving you money and time.

Auto theft trends in 2024

Auto theft is on the rise. Just 2 years ago, it was estimated that there was 283 auto theft cases for every 100,000 people, which equates to around one motor vehicle theft for every 31 seconds. Unfortunately, as criminals indulge more and more in trends like street racing and the practice of stripping cars for parts and reselling them internationally, more and more vehicles are beginning to vanish off the road.

Part of the reason why theft has increased was due to the pandemic-related stay-at-home orders, but in 2024 the majority of us have returned to office and resumed life “as per usual.” So why should you still be concerned about auto theft in 2024? Why is motor theft still such a huge issue?

Is auto theft on the rise?

While we’re still in the early stages of 2024, it’s tough to say how auto theft will continue to evolve. What we do know is that theft had risen by almost 11% between 2021 to 2022, according to data from the FBI, and that it may continue to do so as manufacturers continue to pump out highly appealing vehicles and car theft cases continue to go unsolved.

Why are so few vehicles recovered in car theft cases?

Unfortunately, solve rates for auto theft have always historically been low, but the spike in auto theft incidents has caused them to drop even more. Public data from New York City shows that police make 14 arrests per every 100 car thefts and in Denver that number’s even lower with 7 arrests for every 100 reported car thefts.

This is for a number of reasons. One is that, typically with property crimes, law enforcement resources are minimal. Budget, staffing, and technology can’t keep up with the rate of auto thefts. Worse still, car theft is often associated with worse crimes. Many thieves will use vehicles to commit worse crimes as they can later ditch the vehicle and law enforcement can’t track them down using a single license plate.

Hyundai and Kia motor thefts in the country

If you didn’t read our previous blog on the latest Hyundai and Kia news, here’s the quick rundown: many major insurers, like State Farm (as the biggest example) are no longer insuring Hyundai and Kia model vehicles due to their high “theftability.” This “theftability” comes from a TikTok demonstrating how certain models of Hyundai and Kia cars could be broken into with a USB cord and a screwdriver. As a result, these vehicles were being lifted off the streets left, right, and center, and insurers no longer wished to stay on risk due to the high chance of a theft claim.

This isn’t old news. Tons of vehicles are considered higher theft than others, whether because of their specific luxurious features that are appealing for resell, their prevalence on the roads, or vulnerable points that allow hackers to steal them easier.

OLBG did a good “prediction” list of what will be the most stolen cars in 2024. When purchasing a car, we recommend drivers to be conscious of the cars on this list. Many insurers will hike the rates of vehicles with high theft appeal; to combat that hike, drivers can either consider alternative models or invest in aftermarket security products.

What are the expectations for auto theft in 2024?

It’s very early to see how trends will shape up in 2024, but we’re already starting to see some shifts that could suggest what we’ll see throughout the year.

One trend that may start to increase in frequency is the use of specific electronic locksmith tools, i.e. ProPads, to steal high-performance vehicles. Vehicles with keyless entry features can be stolen through relay attacks via a blank key FOB and tech found on the Internet. This seems to occur the most with high output engine vehicles, like Dodge Chargers, Durangos, and Challengers, as well as Jeep Grand Cherokees. These vehicles are usually stolen for the purpose of being re-tagged and then sold to unsuspecting buyers, or even later wrecked in street races.

Education in 2024 will be as important as it has ever been for decreasing the risk of auto theft. Vehicle thefts for cars that have been left with their key inside was extremely common in 2022 and 2023, and may be no different for the coming year. Even if you feel you live in a “safe” community, you never know. Never leave your vehicle running and unattended (yes – even in the cold!) and always take your keys with you when you leave your vehicle.

As always, regular auto theft methods such as key swaps at dealers following test drives, car-jackings, and vehicles being stolen at service centers by accessing key boxes continue to be an issue. This is likely to continue into 2024 as well.

With all these trends on the rise and new ones continuing to evolve on the horizon, it’s important to stay vigilant, to stay informed, and to keep in mind all the best ways to protect yourself and your vehicle against the risk of auto theft.

How do you protect yourself against auto theft?

Car theft happens even to the most secure vehicles. While you can’t 100% of the time ensure your car is safe from auto theft, there are a few things you can do to hugely decrease your risk.

Here’s our tips:

  • Always lock your car doors and close the windows when leaving your vehicle.
  • Park in well-lit and populated areas, especially at night.
  • Install an anti-theft device such as an alarm system, steering wheel lock, or immobilizer.
  • Don’t leave valuables visible inside the car; store them in the trunk or take them with you.
  • Use a visible deterrent like a “Car Alarm” or “Protected by [Security Company]” sticker.
  • Consider installing a GPS tracking device to help locate your car if it’s stolen.
  • Don’t leave spare keys inside or around your vehicle, even if it’s hidden.
  • Be cautious of where you leave your car keys, and avoid leaving them in obvious or easily accessible places.
  • If possible, use a garage or secure parking facility rather than street parking.
  • Be vigilant and report any suspicious activity or attempted theft to the authorities.

Note that certain aftermarket car security products can qualify you for a discount on your auto insurance. Call AHI Group to discuss insuring a high-theft vehicle or for tips on how to protect your vehicle better – and save at the same time.

Could EV remote control features be a security risk?

There are 2,442,270 electric vehicles, or EVs for short, registered in the United States as of 2024. With the electric vehicle market estimated to sit around $49.1 billion in 2023, it’s no surprise that we’re starting to see more and more of these vehicles on the roads nowadays. EVs are all the rage, but one of the latest advertised features, “remote control,” is starting to raise some questions.

Auto theft is on the rise, and thieves are becoming more successful in leveraging certain aspects of cars as more and more manufacturers start to offer more interesting “perks.” Let’s explore how EV remote control features could be a potential security risk.

How does remote control work?

Many electric vehicles today can be controlled remotely by using mobile applications or web-based systems. This allows the owners of EVs to perform a variety of tasks, from maintenance and assessing battery life to even monitoring the status of a vehicle’s charging, adjusting temperature, and locating the vehicle on a map. These features have greatly improved as newer models roll out, adding on additional hardware and software to improve user experience greatly.

Tesla is one such vehicle that offers remote control. Here’s an overview of what the system entails:

  • Locking and unlocking vehicles
  • Enabling or disabling AC and heating, as well as monitoring cabin climate
  • Checking vehicle’s charging status
  • Viewing vehicle’s estimated driving range
  • Opening the front trunk
  • Opening or closing the charging port
  • Seeing where the vehicle is located
  • View the vehicle’s VIN and current software
  • Flash lights/honk horn to find where car is parked
  • Park and retrieve the vehicle using the “Summon” feature

Electric vehicle safety features

Most electric vehicles, like Tesla, feature numerous security features to prevent or reduce the risk of auto theft. For example, Tesla features a Security tab on its mobile app which enables drivers to:

  • Pair their phones to the vehicle
  • Enable and disable autopilot and autopark modes
  • Enable notifications that trigger when the vehicle’s driving speed is within 5km/h of the maximum selected speed. You can disable or enable this mode as well

Although these modes may help reduce your odds of theft, they don’t prevent your chances altogether. Electric vehicles may be the most at risk due to their luxury appeal and high value. We recommend investigating aftermarket products to buff your security. Some products may even qualify you for a discount on your auto insurance!

How is remote connectivity a security risk?

For any vehicle that has remote connectivity and a computer chip, there’s a vulnerable point. In today’s tech-powered world, car thieves need to think beyond the old-school “bash in the window” in order to steal cars, and that’s just what they’ve done. Modern hackers have found EVs to be particularly vulnerable.

Connectivity features using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular networks are the number one way hackers access electric vehicles. Even having a remote starter can serve as an entryway for hackers to gain access to your vehicle (and this applies to gas-powered vehicles, too!)

Another prominent vulnerability for EV security is public charging stations. The United States alone is home to well over 60,000 public charging stations, a majority of which are connected devices. These devices are, unfortunately, prone to being hacked as well and can be an entryway for thieves to steal away with electric vehicles – especially those that are left unattended by the owner. Public charging stations are also a vulnerability when it comes to identity theft, as to use these stations you’ll need to use an app or frequency ID card which houses IP addresses, network info, and location data. Hackers can manipulate this data and use it for personal gain.

Most vulnerable vehicles

The list of most commonly stolen vehicles changes each year based on statistics and trends. However, statistics aside, these vehicle manufacturers were found to house the most vulnerabilities:

  • Hyundai
  • Acura
  • BMW
  • Ford
  • Ferrari
  • Genesis
  • Infiniti
  • Kia
  • Jaguar
  • Land Rover
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Porsche
  • Rolls Royce
  • Toyota
  • Nissan

How do you protect your electric vehicle?

There’s still a ton of work for manufacturers to do in order to protect electric vehicles against thieves. Remote control features are a great addition to have and enjoy for ease of access and convenience, but they do pose a serious risk as of where they’re at right now. Here are some ways you can reduce the risk of your EV (or any vehicle) getting stolen or hacked:

  • Consider using an at-home charging station as opposed to a public one. If you need to use a public station, choose a busier location where your car is more in the “public eye.”
  • Install a traditional anti-theft device that locks to your steering wheel. As old-school as these might be, they’re still a true and tried means of deterring thieves.
  • Avoid or limit the use of third-party apps that connect to your vehicle.
  • Always install the latest patch or software update from your vehicle’s manufacturer.
  • Park your car in a secure location, such as in a garage or private driveway.

For additional questions about protecting EVs or to talk about insuring an EV, give AHI Group a call.

What do I do if I’ve been hit in a parking lot?

When you think “car crash,” you might think Highway 50 side-swipe or getting T-boned turning left after someone runs a red light, but not all crashes are as dramatic as that. You might be surprised to learn that many collisions happen in public (and private) parking lots.

Busy parking lot, people backing out without looking, rushing to turn left before oncoming traffic—the hustle-and-bustle nature and close confinement in parking lots can lead to some unfortunate scenarios. As careful as we try to be, we can’t control the behaviour of others. So, what do you do if you’ve been in a parking lot crash?

Things you need to know about getting hit in a parking lot

Getting hit in a parking lot is more common than you might think, but you’d be surprised at the potential severity of injuries and property damage, even with the low speeds. If you’re in your car at the time of the incident and there are injuries, the first thing you’ll need to do is call 911. If no one’s injured, then you’re safe to exchange information with the other driver. Make sure to get their registration, auto insurance, and driver’s license information on the scene.

Preparing to file a claim for a parking lot accident is no different than filing a claim for an accident that took place on a major highway. You’ll want to document the accident, take as many photos as possible, and possibly even call the police if there are injuries or the estimated damages exceed $2,000. If there are witnesses around, you’ll want to get their statements. If the parking lot where you were hit was outside a store, ask the store owner for any possible security footage they may be able to produce.

What if I don’t know who hit me?

Imagine you ducked inside a store to do a little post-work shopping and you came back outside to find the front of your car had been backed into. No other car in sight, and no one nearby seems to know who hit you. In this unfortunate scenario, sometimes known as a “hit-and-run accident,” an incident where a driver who is unidentified or even a driver who is identified but has insufficient insurance hits your car may be covered under collision insurance.

In the even more unfortunate scenario where you or even a passenger were still inside the car when it was hit and the driver is unable to be identified, you may have some coverage for their or your injuries under a section of auto insurance known as uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.

Still, before you go through insurance, it’s important that you take a few steps to ensure you and your passengers are safe and your car isn’t in any further risk of being damaged:

  • Move your car to the side of the road, if possible
  • Turn on your hazard lights and try to mark out the area to avoid further accidents.
  • Once everyone’s safe, get in touch with law enforcement. If your car is OK to drive or the damage was only minor, you can drive to the nearest station to file a report.
  • You may also consider asking nearby shop owners if there are any security cameras overlooking the parking lot. This can help to identify the driver who hit you.

If you don’t have collision car insurance, the odds are you may have to pay out of pocket for the incident. If you do have collision coverage, you’ll need to pay your deductible before insurance covers the rest.

Travelers, one of AHI’s partners, has some good information on car insurance and covering hit-and-runs.

Getting in touch with your insurance provider

Call your insurance provider as soon as you’re done dealing with the police (if applicable) after an accident. Even if you’re not at fault, it’s important to let your insurer know to avoid delaying your coverage and/or repairs. Remember, you are not responsible for contacting the other party’s insurer, whether you’re at fault or not! In an accident where you’ll need to file a third-party car claim (such as where the other driver was at fault) you may need to file a claim with them, but you can do so virtually or by simply reaching out to your own provider to consult about next steps.

Calling your own insurance company is recommended because of these reasons:

  • It can help expedite the claims process
  • It can assist in providing coverage ASAP for injuries or damages (especially for families and individuals who are struggling financially)
  • You may end up having out-of-pocket costs if you fail to report the accident right away
  • The other driver involved in the accident could allege damages or injuries later, which could cause the story to not correlate with what you said initially at the scene

You should always inform your car insurance company, even if there’s minimal damage/no injuries at a collision or accident. We recommend doing so even if you’re not technically obligated to do so, as it’ll ensure that they have a record if you need to file a claim later or even if the other driver ends up filing a claim against you.

If you’re confused about what to do following a parking lot crash, not to worry. AHI Group is here to help answer any questions that you may have and help alleviate your concerns or worries. At some point, the majority of us will have been involved in a car accident. It can be stressful, but knowing what to do can be a huge aid. Give us a call today.