Veteran insurance agent offers tips as car thefts mount in New Orleans

Dan Burghardt thinks thefts will increase insurance premiums
Thousands of vehicles were stolen in New Orleans in 2022 and hundreds in January 2023.
Thousands of vehicles were stolen in New Orleans in 2022 and hundreds in January 2023.(Source: WVUE)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 9:19 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - At least 400 vehicles have been reported stolen in New Orleans since 2023 began, and insurance agents like Dan Burghardt are hearing from victims.

“Just customers involved in all of this thievery going on, they call us and let us know their car is stolen,” said Burghardt, who owns Dan Burghardt Insurance Agency.

According to crime data presented to the New Orleans City Council this week, there were thousands of auto thefts in the city last year.

District D Councilman Eugene Green reacted to the statistics.

“When you’re looking at 4,000 auto thefts, people just taking cars so they can joy ride or reading online and seeing Tiktok say how to steal a Kia or Hyundai and you do it because of that, it suggests that we have a breakdown that really needs to be addressed,” said Green.\

Burghardt knows firsthand what it is like to be a victim. He says his company’s van with his agency’s name emblazoned on it was stolen in Kenner as it sat outside his business on Veterans Boulevard. He got it back 14 days later.

“I decided to do a Facebook post with a picture of my van and let people know that, hey, if you see my van, Burghardt van with my name all over it that I’m not in it, it’s stolen, please help me find it and within three, four days we got reports it was in Mississippi, it was being used to haul stolen motorcycles and all of my equipment was thrown out which was used for home shows,” said Burghardt.

His vehicle was found in New Orleans.

“The vehicle wound up showing up in New Orleans on Fulton Street, and the New Orleans Police Department told me they recovered it and it was at G&M Towing Service out in New Orleans East,” Burghardt stated.

For people whose vehicles are stolen, he says it is imperative that they contact the police and their insurance company immediately because not doing so could have costly consequences.

“Once a car is stolen there’s no more coverage on it, the insurance company is not obligated to pay if they get in an accident with your vehicle,” said Burghardt.

He added that getting reimbursement for a non-recovered vehicle will take time.

“If you do have comprehensive and you want to get reimbursed there’s a 30-day mandatory waiting period before a company is going to go ahead and issue or figure out the value of the vehicle to pay you to pay you if it’s not recovered,” said Burghardt. “If you didn’t buy the rental reimbursement there’s still under the comprehensive coverage a provision for rental in the event of theft.”

Burghardt thinks the rash of car thefts in New Orleans will ultimately drive up insurance rates.

“If this keeps continuing and the claims keep coming in they’re going to have to adjust rates based on city and zip code that the problem is occurring, so it’ll probably be a New Orleans problem with a rate increase,” he said.

And Burghardt says insurance companies are not guaranteed to cover content stolen from vehicles.

“We get those phone calls, unfortunately, if they’re not covered by a renter’s or homeowner’s policy the contents that they’ve lost in that vehicle is not covered,” he said.

The NOPD says if a vehicle is stolen and recovered in New Orleans, the owner will not be charged towing and storage fees as long as the vehicle is not left at the towing facility beyond 90 days.

But Burghardt’s van was only recovered in New Orleans, so he said he had to pay to retrieve it.

“Say about $750, 800 bucks,” said Burghardt. “If it’s outside the New Orleans area and it’s found in New Orleans the chance of being reimbursed or not as good but we’re going to try.”

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