Keeping Car Thieves Stalled: Immobilizers and Your Insurance in Alberta

Keeping Car Thieves StalledAs part of the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) theft deterrent program, engine immobilizers have been standard equipment in vehicles for the last eight years. These devices interrupt the electrical service to the starter, ignition, and fuel pump when the key is not close to the vehicle, and have made car theft a more difficult proposition. As they are a valuable deterrent to all but the most determined of car thieves, owners may enjoy an insurance discount in Alberta for owning a car with engine immobilization technology onboard.

Bow Valley Insurance is a Calgary-based independent insurance broker serving the needs of Alberta. Because we deal with several reputable providers we are able to shop around for the best car insurance coverage at the best price for you…that is our promise

History of Immobilizers

Before 2007, engine immobilizers were not standard equipment on cars sold in Canada. Since then the IBC has mandated their use, and they are unobtrusive pieces of equipment that has assisted greatly in making it more difficult for car thieves to succeed. Immobilizers are a partnership between a small transponder located within the engine, and a key embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID). Either the key, or the fob, contains circuitry that identifies the possessor as the authorized user of the car, allowing for such things as modern, “push button” ignition while your key stays firmly in pocket or purse.

IBC approved engine immobilizers work by cutting power to the starter, ignition and usually the fuel supply, and are activated when they do not “sense” the radio frequency being sent by the vehicle’s keychain. For most cars, installing a system that immobilizes the engine costs between $700 and $1,000, depending upon the sophistication of the equipment chosen. If you are looking to protect your vehicle with an immobilization system, ensure it meets the ULC S338 Canadian standard to qualify for an insurance discount.

Mind Your Keys

It’s very easy to lose your keys. In fact, too easy. For professional thieves, it is far simpler to come by the keys to your car rather than to try to defeat your car’s security system. And because all it takes it a key fob to open your doors, pop your trunk or cause your car to “chirp”, it is also very easy for thieves to find out which car belongs to the key they just found. As such, it’s smart to do your best to not leave your garage door opener and documents indicating your home address in your vehicle.

In this era of electronic security, which is at the core of your engine immobilization system, there are also technologically savvy thieves who can “clone” your key or key fob if they gain physical access to your keys or to the onboard engine diagnostic port within the car itself. If you know you insure a car that has a particularly high risk for theft, either for attempted illegal exportation or for the value of its parts, take common sense measures to protect access to your engine immobilization system. If you lose your car keys in a public place, have your system “recoded” to a new key from the dealership as soon as it can be managed. 

For personal representation and excellent car insurance coverage in Alberta for your individual vehicle or commercial fleet, try a quote from the experienced brokers at Bow Valley Insurance.