How much you pay for your car insurance can be influenced by a wide range of factors, but one key element driving up premiums that you might not even be aware of is your suburb's vehicle theft and crime rate.
September 2020 data from the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NVMTRC) found national vehicle theft increased by 2 per cent in 2020, with a total of 56,312 cars stolen around the country between 2019 and 2020.
Specifically, there was an increase in vehicle theft in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, with the heavy vehicle class recording the largest rise in theft, followed by passenger vehicles.
Of all the states and territories, Victoria recorded the highest number of stolen cars from 2019-2020, with 10,481 cars stolen in total, followed by Queensland with 10,112 cars stolen and New South Wales with 6793 cars stolen.
Zeroing in on local government areas with high rates of theft, the data found all of Australia's vehicle theft hotspots were located in either Victoria or Queensland.
In Victoria, the local government area with the highest rate of passenger vehicle theft was Hume, followed by Casey, Moreland and Brimbank.
In Queensland, the local government area where passenger vehicle theft was most prevalent was Brisbane (which also happened to have the highest rate of theft in the country), followed by the Gold Coast, Townsville, Moreton Bay and Cairns.
Small passenger cars were most popular amongst car thieves, followed by SUVs, light commercial utilities and large passenger cars.
Andrew White, EGM for Actuarial Operations at Australian insurer Youi, warned people in high-risk areas could face increased premiums and suggested they consider secure parking options and additional security measures in order to drive down pricing.
"The main thing that can be done is to ensure your car is parked in either a garage or secured area," Mr White advised.
"If this isn’t possible, try and park your car off the street behind locked gates. Not only will you have a bit more peace of mind, but it can also reduce your premiums.
"If you have an older car you can consider fitting it with an Australian-standards approved engine immobiliser. This will make it incredibly hard to steal your car in the event of it being broken into."
Finally, there are other helpful measures you can take to keep your car safe – even if they don't drive your insurance premiums down.
"Another important thing to remember is to secure your car keys, so if thieves break into your house they can’t easily drive away with your car," Mr White said.
"Unfortunately theft of cars from residences is on the increase according to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC), so keep those keys secure."
If you do find yourself the victim of car theft, act quickly.
"If your car is stolen or vandalised, many insurers will require you to have made a report to police, usually within 24 hours of becoming aware of the incident," Mr White explained.
"It’s also important to review the level of cover before your car is stolen rather than after. When choosing an insurer look for one that asks questions about whether you’re taking measure to keep your car safe, as this should be acknowledged by your insurer with lower premiums."