Manitoba Public Insurance anti-theft program attracts thousands – but not those most at risk

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February 9 , 2006 – While Manitoba Public Insurance has convinced more than 9,300 Manitobans to purchase after-market immobilizers in just six months, the public insurer remains concerned about the number of high-risk vehicles that are still unprotected.

“In January alone, we saw a surge of 1,500 new appointments for immobilizer installations, but less than a quarter were for owners of vehicles on our Top 100 list,” said Tim Arnason, Director of Auto Theft Prevention Operations.

The Top 100 list outlines the make, model and year combinations that are targeted by thieves and stolen most frequently in Manitoba. These vehicles make up 17 per cent of all automobiles in Winnipeg but account for 68 per cent of the theft claims in the city. For some of these vehicles, the odds of being stolen in Winnipeg are as bad as one in eight.

“Without the protection of an immobilizer, they are sitting ducks for auto thieves,” Arnason said. “In Winnipeg, there are still about 47,000 of these vehicles out there on the streets – 47,000 thefts just waiting to happen.”

Although the corporation’s immobilizer incentive program is available to all Manitoba vehicles, the Top 100 are its prime target. Through the program unveiled by Manitoba Public Insurance in June, the corporation is offering the unmatched protection of an immobilizer at less than half the usual cost, with an annual $40 insurance discount that can offset the expense in less than three years. With up to five years of free financing, Manitobans can theft-proof their vehicles immediately without paying anything up front.

Initially, the overwhelming response to the offer resulted in lengthy waits for appointments. Since then, the number of participating installation shops has increased five-fold to meet the demand. Now vehicle owners can have an immobilizer installed within days of contacting the corporation.

“Today there’s nothing preventing anyone from theft-proofing their vehicle,” Arnason said. “The service is fast, it’s affordable, it’s virtually fail-proof and it can pay for itself in less than three years.”

While thousands of Manitobans have responded to the program, the corporation wants to see more participation among those most certain of having their vehicles stolen – and driving up claims costs that have to be covered by other drivers.

Because of this concern, the corporation is taking the message to Top 100 vehicle owners through a direct mail campaign. Last month, these customers began receiving letters informing them of their unusually high risk of theft, and they will be contacted up to three more times during the year.

About 22,500 high-risk owners have received these notices to date.

“Manitoba Public Insurance is committed to growing this program, and reducing auto theft,” said Arnason. “Auto theft has evolved from a joy-riding issue to that of public safety. Innocent people are being killed and injured as the direct result of auto theft.”

The list of Top 100 vehicles is posted on this website.

Manitobans interesting in learning more about the immobilizer program can call the Autopac Line at 985-7000 (toll-free 1-800-665-2410, deaf access TTY/DDD 985-8832). The Call Centre is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

About MPIC: Manitoba Public Insurance is a nonprofit Crown Corporation that has provided basic automobile coverage since 1971. More information at http://www.mpi.mb.ca.