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Hacking: The new auto theft risk

Claims related to car thefts are among the claims auto insurers sometimes receive from their policyholders. Now, automobile thefts have been happening pretty much since cars first came onto the scene. However, what automobile thefts look like and what the big automobile theft risks are have changed over time, as things like what security systems cars have and what technology is out there in general have shifted and evolved.

It appears that we might currently be in the midst of a significant change when it comes to the nature of auto thefts. This possible change is due to the fact that today’s cars are using an increased amount of computer technology in their various systems, including their ignition and security systems.

Among the things a high presence of computer systems and wireless systems within an object can create are potential hacking vulnerabilities and risks for the object. Given this, there is a possibility that, moving forward, hacking and cyber attacks, rather than just pure physical actions, could be a major component in auto thefts.

There have already been reports of vehicle thefts occurring that involved the perpetrators using laptops or “mystery” electronic devices. One wonders how big of a role hacking will play in the general area of auto thefts in future years.

How automobile manufacturers respond to the threat and risks of hacking-related auto thefts and what steps they take to try to prevent the computer systems they use in their vehicles from creating potential theft vulnerabilities in such vehicles could have significant impacts. So, what actions automobile manufacturers end up taking on this front is something that could be worth watching closely.

Among the things changes in the nature of auto thefts can have impacts on are the type of theft claims auto insurers see and what the primary issues are when it comes to such claims. If hacking does become a major part of auto thefts in the future, what do you think will be the biggest effects the auto insurance industry will experience from it?

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Thieves Go High-Tech to Steal Cars,” Jeff Bennett, July 5, 2016

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