Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Agent for 15 Years Rachael Brennan

Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2022

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Key takeaways...

  • While there isn’t a car alarm insurance discount per se, there is a discount for anti-theft devices
  • If a stolen vehicle’s owner has comprehensive coverage, then the car owner’s insurance company is picking up the tab for the theft, minus the amount of the deductible
  • Insurance departments divide anti-theft devices into two categories, passive and active
  • Anti-theft device discounts can be as low as 5 percent, though passive devices generally generate a higher discount than active devices, because passive devices cannot be turned off

Discounts are a great way to save money on your insurance premium. They are given to attract and reward safe drivers or those with lower risk. Most discounts can be obtained through a number of qualifications; a car alarm discount is one such example.

Another way to save money on your car insurance is to put your ZIP code into the FREE quote tool above!

While there isn’t a car alarm discount per se, there is a discount for anti-theft devices. Certainly, having a car alarm would allow you to qualify for this discount. There are also a host of other devices that will allow you to qualify for the anti-theft device discount.

The unique quality of the anti-theft device discount is that it is one that you can control directly. If you want the discount, all you need to do is to install one device or another.

There are few other discounts that can be gotten just by going to a store that sells car anti-theft devices and purchasing one.

Theft and Your Insurance

Theft is a big concern for vehicle owners and car insurance providers alike. According to data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, vehicle thefts in 2009 amounted to about $5.2 billion in losses.

If a stolen vehicle’s owner has comprehensive coverage, then the car owner’s insurance company is picking up the tab for the theft, minus the amount of the deductible.

While theft rates in the U.S. are on a downward trend, auto insurance providers still look at a driver’s risk of having their vehicle stolen when setting car insurance rates. Those who live in areas of the country with high theft rates will pay more for comprehensive coverage.

The Insurance Information Institute asserted that the average comprehensive premium in 2008 was $133.00, though some drivers will obviously pay more. Those who live in areas with high theft rates–mostly urban areas–will find their costs for comprehensive coverage to be much higher.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau releases an annual Hot Spots list with the top ten areas where vehicle thefts occur the most.

An interesting trend shows that Californians are probably paying pretty high comprehensive car insurance rates. Six of California’s cities were in the top 10.

Another surprise is the NICB’s Hot Wheels list, which shows the top ten most-stolen vehicles each year. You would think that the list would contain sports cars, Hummers, and the latest technology, but the list doesn’t contain a vehicle that’s newer than 2006!

More than half of the vehicles on the most-stolen vehicle list were made in the 1990s, and pickup trucks occupy three spots.

There are five sedans and one each of a minivan and an SUV, but not one sports car or Hummer in the bunch.

However, any vehicle can be stolen, so it is important to have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle. A discount can help to lower the costs of comprehensive coverage, as well as help to keep you free from the stress and trouble of a stolen vehicle.

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Passive Devices

Insurance departments divide anti-theft devices into two categories. The first is passive devices. Passive devices are those that cannot be turned off by the vehicle operator, or forgotten to be activated in the first place.

Passive devices deter thieves in the first place. They usually include a decal or sticker advertising their use, much like you might put a sign for your home burglar alarm company in your front yard to frighten away potential thieves.

The car thief sees the decal and knows that the passive device makes the vehicle harder to steal, so they  move on to a different vehicle.

For instance, a car might have a special ignition system that requires the driver to push a series of buttons in a certain order or hold down a particular button for 10 seconds, for the key to turn in the ignition and start the engine.

Generally, such systems are installed at the factory, but they can be installed aftermarket as well. There are usually accompanying decals so thieves don’t even try to take that car.

There are vehicle tracking devices that also increase the likelihood of recovering your vehicle. There is LoJack, which activates once you have reported your vehicle stolen.

It tracks the exact location of your car, leading law enforcement right to your stolen vehicle and, hopefully, the thief.

OnStar also has vehicle tracking capabilities that can be used to recover your stolen vehicle. Such devices also sometimes include a kill switch, which either shuts the engine off or keeps it from restarting.

Active Devices


Active devices are much more common than passive devices, but they do have the possibility of being forgotten to be activated or used.

Car alarms, whether part of the factory installations or an aftermarket installation, are examples of active devices. They ward off thieves, but only if you remember to turn them on!

There are also clubs and sticks that lock the steering wheel in place so that car thieves cannot drive the vehicle. The devices that are accepted by your insurer vary depending upon state laws and the insurance company themselves.

Many states have laws requiring auto insurers to offer anti-theft devices discounts.

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Choosing the Right Device for You

To find out what devices qualify you and your vehicle for the discount, contact your insurance provider to inquire or get a list. Then, choose an option that fits your lifestyle.

For instance, if you are someone who forgets their keys a lot or gets flustered under pressure, perhaps a car alarm that goes off anytime someone comes within a five-foot radius of your car may not be for you.

You also should consider your budget and the age and overall worth of your vehicle. The costs can range from under one hundred dollars to several hundred dollars, so you have a wide array of options open to you.

If your vehicle is brand new, then spending a few hundred dollars on an alarm system or a recovery system will make sense. However, if your car is not worth very much, then you probably can’t justify spending $600 on an alarm.

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Common Discounts

Discounts will vary depending upon your state, your insurer, and the anti-theft device that you install on your vehicle. However, just about all insurers offer discounts for devices that combat car theft.

It is also important to note that some insurers put the discount towards the comprehensive portion of your car insurance premium costs, and other insurers will utilize the discount towards the entire premium.

Obviously, the latter scenario will reflect more significant savings.

Anti-theft device discounts can be as low as 5 percent, though passive devices generally generate a higher discount than active devices because passive devices cannot be turned off.

Most companies offer anti-theft device discounts that are in the 10 to 15 percent range.

If your comprehensive coverage costs your $150, then a 10 percent discount will save you $15 on your insurance costs.

The discount that you receive is not the only way that anti-theft devices benefit you. The device should help to minimize the chances that your vehicle will be stolen.

The theft of a vehicle is no easy thing, and even with comprehensive coverage, you will still lose your deductible, your time, and your peace of mind.

One Device Every Driver Should Have


There is one device that every vehicle owner should have, with or without comprehensive coverage. It actually isn’t a device like a car alarm. Every vehicle should have VIN etching performed to reduce the chances of theft.

VIN etching is when the car’s Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, is etched into the windshield and all the other glass windows of the vehicle. Your vehicle’s VIN is the only one like it in the world, and it will always lead back to your vehicle.

VIN etching deters thieves because the windshield and other window parts are rendered unsellable, and the vehicle cannot be used as-is if your VIN is on a vehicle theft list.

The process is recommended by Help Eliminate Auto Theft, or HEAT, a state-sponsored program aimed at reducing auto theft in states like Michigan and Virginia.

The beauty of VIN etching is that it is so inexpensive and easy to do. It works as a great deterrent with so little effort.

Many states, city governments, and police forces offer VIN etching free to the public during special events, but kits cost as little as $20. Many dealers offer it as part of a new car package, but high costs at the dealership are really unnecessary.

Additionally, many car insurance providers also offer a discount for VIN etching, considering it a passive anti-theft device. Statistics from Michigan show that VIN etching makes it 29 percent less likely that a vehicle will be stolen.

There are few other anti-theft devices that can save you 5 to 15 percent off comprehensive car insurance that cost you almost nothing!

Before making any final decisions on your insurance company, it is important to learn as much as you can about your local insurance providers, and the coverages they offer. Call your local insurance agent to clear up any questions that you might have. Questions to consider asking include, “What is the best coverage plan for me/my family/my situation?” “What are the minimum coverage requirements in my state and what form of coverage do you recommend?” “Do you guys offer any bundle discounts if I take out both my auto insurance and home insurance with you?” and “What is the average rate of insurance quotes you guys offer?”

Before making any big insurance decisions, use our free tool to compare insurance quotes near you. It’s simple, just plug in your zip code and we’ll do the rest!

Find car insurance providers that offer anti-theft device discounts on this page when you put your ZIP code in the FREE quote tool below!