Auto insurance

Now Amazon leaves packages in your car

Tuesday, April 24, 2018by  Jon Osterberg

An Amazon driver delivers a package inside a Prime member's car trunkWith Amazon's new service – free package delivery to your car – motorists might wonder, is that safe? What about package theft, and insurance coverage?

At first blush, it seems there might not be a heightened security or insurance risk if you opt for the service.

Amazon Prime members are eligible if they drive late-model GM or Volvo vehicles equipped with OnStar or Volvo On, once they download the Amazon Key app. You must park in public spaces like streets, driveways, or parking lots, not restricted areas like secure parking garages.

Delivery drivers will leave packages in your trunk or out of plain sight inside your vehicle.

My first thought: "puffers" and "porch pirates."

Puffers is slang for people who, on cold winter mornings, go outside and start the car and heater, then return inside. Clever crooks sometimes cruise neighborhoods looking for telltale exhaust plumes, then steal the idling car. Porch pirates, of course, are thieves who steal delivered packages from doorsteps.

Might savvy crooks tail Amazon vehicles, observe packages being left in cars, then break in and steal them?

"That might be more work than targeting porches," a senior Claims manager said as we pondered possible insurance implications. "It's a lot more work to break into a car than dash to someone's porch and snatch a package.

An Amazon Prime package is left on the buyer's front porch"In theory, leaving a package in your trunk might be more secure than porch delivery," he mused.

What if the thief damages your trunk while breaking in, or smashes a window? If your policy includes Comprehensive coverage, you're already protected against vandalism. Also, an Amazon spokesperson told The New York Times that Amazon will "make sure it's right" if a broken lock or window is caused by a delivery.

The Amazon news release doesn't say, but perhaps delivery drivers drive unmarked cars, making them less conspicuous anyway.

"The more complex claim question would come if the Amazon driver left your car unlocked, and then it gets stolen," my colleague said. "We'll need to wait and see how this all shakes out."

One fact is certain: Insurers certainly live in an interesting time as we adapt to the outcomes of new technologies like smartphones, driverless cars, and Amazon Key.

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