Members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) paid out £108 million in stolen vehicle claims in the first quarter of 2019, it has been revealed.
That’s an increase of 22 percent on the same period last year, with the rise in vehicle crime put down to the keyless car theft ‘epidemic’.
Working in pairs, car thieves use electronic signal relay devices to steal the vehicle, normally from outside the owner’s home. One thief stands next to the vehicle, while the other stands close enough to the house to pick up the signal from the key fob.
The system is fooled into unlocking the doors and starting the engine, giving the thieves free access to the vehicle.
Although the signal can pass through doors, windows and walls, it cannot penetrate metal, so storing keys inside a metal container or purchasing a signal blocking wallet are good ways to avoid becoming a victim of keyless car theft.
The ABI data mirrors figures released by the Home Office, which show a 50 percent rise in vehicle thefts over the last five years. It means that a whopping £1.2 million is paid out to policyholders EVERY DAY.
‘It’s a win-win’
Commenting on the fact that 46 percent of stolen vehicles stolen without some form of fitted tracking device are never recovered, Clive Wain head of police liaison at Tracker, said: “If more cars were fitted with stolen vehicle recovery devices, we’d see a reduction in the volume and cost of insurance claims, because more vehicles would be recovered.
“If consumers were offered greater incentives to fit additional security measures, such as financial savings on their premiums, not only would claims fall, but the cost of insurance premiums could fall for everyone. It’s a win-win.”
Eighty-eight percent of vehicles taken without the owner’s keys were successfully recovered by Tracker in 2018.
Laurenz Gerger, motor insurance policy adviser at ABI, said: “The continued growth in car crime must be reversed. Car security has come on leaps and bounds but needs to keep pace with the ingenuity of car criminals.
“The rising number of theft claims being paid by insurers in part reflects the vulnerability of some cars to keyless relay theft. Action by motor manufacturers to tackle this high-tech vulnerability, allied with owners taking some simple, inexpensive precautions will help put the brakes on this unwelcome trend.”