Insurance Bureau of Canada encourages Minister Lapierre to implement tougher Canadian standards for vehicle immobilizers

TORONTO, March 9 — Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) strongly encourages Transport Minister Jean Lapierre to review regulations for electronic immobilizers announced today. Electronic immobilizers are systems that prevent a vehicle from starting unless a specific electronic code is used.

Transport Canada’s proposed regulation would require manufacturers of passenger cars and light-duty trucks to install electronic immobilization systems in all vehicles sold in Canada by September 1, 2007. The regulations would allow vehicle manufacturers to choose between a Canadian Standard on electronic immobilization (ULC S338) and the considerably weaker Economic Commission for Europe directive (ECE Reg. 97).

“While we support the adoption of immobilizers for new vehicles, we are disappointed that the federal government is effectively saying that a demonstrably inferior European standard is equal to a proven and effective Canadian standard,” says Bill Cameron, National Director, Auto Theft, IBC. “IBC has demonstrated that vehicles with immobilizers meeting the Canadian standard reduce theft frequency by approximately 50 per cent.”

Since the publication of the Canadian Theft Deterrent Standard in 1998, IBC has successfully spearheaded a program for auto makers to voluntarily introduce effective immobilizers. Currently, 11 vehicle manufacturers participate, resulting in approximately 60 per cent of new vehicles sold in 2003 having compliant systems. At least 15 per cent of vehicles on Canadian roads today have systems meeting the standard.

The Canadian standard, which was developed with Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, vehicle manufacturers and consumers, applies to systems installed by the manufacturer at the time of assembly, as well as systems retrofitted into older vehicles. Transport Canada’s authority applies only to new vehicles. At a time when IBC has shown that theft is shifting to older vehicles, Transport Canada would be, in effect, advocating a weaker standard for newer vehicles.

Use of the ECE directive could, in part, permit other systems, such as those relying on easily-changed computer modules, that thieves can bypass. The Canadian standard requires, among other things, very stringent requirements around access to vehicle computer modules.

“Even insurers in Europe consider ECE directives to be too weak and have developed their own security standards,” says Cameron.

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents more than 90% of the non-government home, car and business insurance in Canada. IBC is regarded as a provider of automobile insurance rating information and a creator of automobile theft-deterrent standards. For more information, visit IBC’s website at