You know those digital billboards along major highways? An insurance industry group is using ones along Albuquerque freeways as part of a public awareness campaign designed to reduce local automobile thefts.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau is financing the effort, working with the New Mexico Insurance Fraud Bureau and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Drivers passing the digital billboards at major locations along I-25 and I-40 will see messages urging them to report vehicle thefts and suspects, with a goal of putting a dent in the local crime rate. Plans call for running the ads through April.

According to the NICB, metropolitan Albuquerque had the second-highest vehicle theft rate nationally in 2015. The NICB said that Albuquerque had improved from having the eighth-highest vehicle theft rate in 2008 to having the 20th-highest rate in 2012 and 2013, thanks in part to the use of bait cars provided by NICB and member companies to law enforcement. But reduced auto theft prevention and “other issues” led to an upswing.

While the advertising effort is taking place in New Mexico, the effort has broader implications for the entire property/casualty insurance industry, said Loretta Worters, vice president, media relations for the Insurance Information Institute.

“According to the FBI, a car is stolen in the U.S. every 42 seconds. Anything that helps to reduce vehicle theft is something the industry is all for,” Worters told Carrier Management via email. “Insurers in many states offer discounts for anti-theft devices. Theft is a factor in how insurers set rates, along with other factors such as the type of vehicle you drive, your driving record, where your car is located, credit-based insurance scores, driver, geographic information and more.”

Concerning the NICB advertising effort in New Mexico, Worters said that “if there were a significant reduction in vehicle theft in the state over time, then it might have an impact on an insurer’s bottom line in that state.”

The NICB is backed by more than 1,000 property/casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. A nonprofit, the NICB focuses on preventing, spotting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness.

Source: NICB