Rising keyless car theft leads to record high in claims costs
A surge in vehicle crime, including keyless car theft, led to record insurance pay-outs in 2018, with more than £1m being paid every day in the UK.
The figures from the Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) motor claims 2018 report show that the cost of vehicle thefts (including from a vehicle), stood at £376m last year; up by 29% on 2017 and marking a new record annual high. The number of claims, at 56,000, rose 12% on 2017, with a new theft claim being made every six minutes.
The cost of all motor claims paid, including property damage, personal injury and theft, was over £8.6bn; again a record annual high. This works out at £16,000 every single minute and was up by nearly half a billion pounds on 2017. The average overall claim was £3,082.
Meanwhile £4.8bn was paid out in vehicle repairs – repairing the policyholder’s vehicle or that of a third party and providing a replacement vehicle. The increasing sophistication of vehicles and a weaker pound contributed to more expensive vehicle repairs.
The figures echo latest Home Office data figures that show motor vehicle theft has risen 49% in five years while recent data from Tracker shows 88% of all stolen vehicles it recovered in 2018 were stolen without using the owner’s keys; up from 80% in 2017 and 66% in 2016; in response, the firm has said that keyless theft is a “harsh reality”.
And new security ratings launched by Thatcham Research last week to help consumers better understand the theft risk of new cars against a backdrop of rising vehicle thefts have shown that more than half of the new cars launched so far this year have potential keyless entry/start vulnerabilities that could leave them vulnerable to relay attack.
Commenting on the ABI’s figures, Laurenz Gerger, the association’s motor policy adviser, said: “The resurgence in car crime is worrying. The record amounts paid to motorists by their 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 reverse this unwelcome trend.
“Despite rising vehicle crime, UK motorists continue to get the most from a very competitive motor insurance market, which saw the average premium fall in 2018, the first annual decrease since 2014. But with cost pressures around theft and repairs remaining, implementing the Civil Liability Act is crucial to delivering a fairer compensation system for claimants and reducing high legal costs, to help ensure competitively priced motor insurance.”
The ABI has also published three simple steps to reduce the risk of theft:
- Park your car in a well-lit area
- Keep car keys well away from external doors or windows
- Turn off the signal overnight or keep the keys in a signal-block pouch