Lawmaker wants insurance rate hike for auto theft victims who leave doors unlocked

Chevrolet Cobalt
FILE - This April 1, 2014, file photo shows a key in the ignition switch of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt in Alexandria, Va. Federal prosecutors have reached agreement with General Motors to resolve a criminal investigation into how the Detroit automaker broke the law by concealing a deadly problem with small-car ignition switches, multiple people briefed on the case said Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Representative Wengay Newton said auto theft victims that leave their doors unlocked with keys inside the vehicle should be penalized by their insurance company.

He said he’s talked to insurance companies about the issue as one way to possibly deter auto thefts in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County.

Jed Bandes said he’s fed up with all the teen car thefts.

Officials said half the vehicles stolen in Pinellas were unlocked.

“I live in St. Petersburg and there’s cars stolen on my street all the time,” said Bandes. “And while I feel bad for them, you leave your keys in your car, they’re going to get stolen.”

“You leave your keys in your car, your insurance ought to go up,” he said.

Whether you lock your doors or not, insurance expert Nile Madley of Single Source insurance said rates are high for everyone because car thefts are common in the area.

“There are bad eggs paying in, but insurance is all about the good eggs also buying in so that everyone can be protected,” said Madley.

Rep. Newton said drivers should hold some responsibility and pay a higher deductible.

“The current law on the books says you must not leave your vehicle unattended, running with keys or unlocked, then how could you be a victim,” said Newton.

Madley said it could be a conversation in the future.

“I think it would be something insurance carriers would be interested in, ’cause they do look at the police reports in the case of theft claims. So if they could write in something on the policy that’s going to save them on something like that, it’s going to be a direct financial risk to the consumer if they don’t lock their vehicle or leave their fob in the car.”

Those who oppose Rep. Newton’s effort say it’s victimizing the victim to penalize them.

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