Grand Theft Auto V: The first video game to feature car insurance?

[caption id="attachment_5659" align="aligncenter" width="538"]Grand Theft Auto V, featuring car insurance! GTA V, Rockstar Games[/caption] Update: With GTA Online now (largely) functional, the details of GTA V's car insurance system are clearer.  You can buy insurance through Mors Mutual for any car you buy or steal in the game by visiting any Los Santos Customs garage. When you buy car insurance, you'll also need to fit a tracker to your vehicle, which is also available, for a fee, at LSC garages. If you destroy or damage your insured vehicle, or if it's stolen, you'll need to make a call to Mors Mutual using your in-game phone. You'll then have the option to pay an excess fee and reclaim the car, as marked on your map. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Crime simulating, tabloid-baiting video game series Grand Theft Auto will see the launch of its latest instalment on September 17 – and become the first ever video game in which you can buy car insurance….probably. Gamers the world over are counting down the days until Rockstar Games unleashes GTA V, which looks set to take open-world video games to unprecedented levels of detail and immersion. And perhaps one of the best examples of this immersion is that you’ll be able to buy car insurance in the game, and make a claim if your vehicles are lost, damaged or stolen.

Ill-gotten gains

The critically acclaimed and controversial series has been around since 1997, going to new levels of realism with each instalment. With production values that eclipse even blockbuster movies and voice acting provided by actors from those very same films, GTA has transcended the medium and become part of popular culture. This time around, Grand Theft Auto V tells the interconnected stories of Michael, Trevor and Franklin - three residents from the fictional state of San Andreas, and each with his own murky backstory. The trio is thrown together in the “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, according to Rockstar. While the gaming world is salivating at the prospect of exploring GTA V’s endless streets, deserts, mountains and seas in its massive array of land, sea and air vehicles, while at the same time navigating a high stakes, heist-laden plot, it’s the car insurance aspect that caught our eye (it’s what we do!). In GTA V, players are able to use their ill-gotten gains to buy and customise cars, motorcycles and other vehicles. But rather than have all that hard-earned cash go up in smoke when a heist getaway goes awry, or when you’re car-jacked while taking in the sights, you’ll have the option to insure your vehicles. Then, if your prized motor is damaged, stolen or otherwise lost, you’ll be able to file a claim and get it back, complete with all your custom parts and modifications intact.

Crash for cash

Rockstar famously keeps as much information as possible about its games under wraps until they hit the shelves, so we don’t yet know if gamers’ premiums will be affected by how often the claim, or by how audacious their automobiles are – but it wouldn’t be surprising if they were. Journalists who’ve enjoyed early playtests of the title say Rockstar has refined the handling and feel of the game’s cars, which should at least mean you’ll stand a better chance of keeping your ride in a good state of repair. However, GTA’s fictional state of San Andreas is notoriously crime-ridden, so there will probably be no shortage of uninsured drivers causing havoc on its streets. And with nearly every resident armed to the teeth, you’d be well-advised not to engage in a spirited debate over who’s at fault when you’re rear-ended in downtown Los Santos. But if your motor does start showing signs of wear and tear, you could always burn it out and claim on insurance – after all, when your day involves robbing a bank, what’s a little insurance fraud, right? The only other game to come close to GTA’s true-to-life depiction of everyday motoring mundanity is racing simulator Gran Turismo, which has always made players pass a series of driving tests before being allowing them to hit the race track. Here are my top tips for keeping your cars safe in GTA V:
  • Save up for an apartment with a decent-sized garage, where your cars will safe from thieves.
  • Bear in mind that stopping distances increase as you drive faster.
  • In online multiplayer modes, don’t hang around at red lights for too long, as you may be car-jacked.
  • Check your vehicle is in a good state of repair before travelling out as far as the mountain ranges and deserts of San Andreas.
  • And, of course, be sure to buy car insurance for your virtual vehicles.
UPDATE: It seems car insurance is not available in GTA V's main story mode, but will become available in the online mode, which launches October 1.

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