Last updated: 02/09/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes
Car safety and security
More than 200 vehicles were stolen on an average day in the UK in 2020, according to data obtained from the DVLA. Making sure your car is secure and out of reach of thieves is therefore crucial, especially if you’re on a third-party policy as you won’t be covered in the event of a theft.
Beefing up your car’s security can help to reduce your motor insurance premiums, while preventing theft in the first place will mean your less likely to make a claim, thus protecting your no claims bonus.
To avoid the stress of having your car vandalised or stolen, we’ve put together our top tips for car theft prevention. If your vehicle has already been stolen and you’re unsure of what to do next, read our guide on what to do if your car is stolen.
In This Guide:
- Tip to keep your car safe and secure
- How can security affect your insurance policy?
- What is a Thatcham device?
- Is vandalism covered under my insurance policy?
- Driving safely
Tip to keep your car safe and secure
There are many things you can do to help prevent your car from being stolen, ranging from simple fixes to things that may require a little investment:
Lock your car
We’ll start by going back to basics, simply because so many car thefts occur from easily avoidable situations.
With the exception of some old models, most cars come with key fobs that give the convenience of remotely locking your car.
However, theft technology has advanced quite a bit, and thieves can use devices to block the signal between your fob and the vehicle, intercepting the locking command.
This means you may think your car is locked when in fact it’s not. Therefore, we recommend the human touch: always physically check the locks of your car.
Hide your keys
Though it may seem obvious advice, thieves are opportunists and will take any chance presented to steal unsupervised keys, so always keep your car keys concealed.
And we don’t just mean not leaving them on the table in a café, or the car seat while you pop into the petrol station. Hide them in your home as well – criminals can easily hook keys through a letterbox and you’d be none the wiser.
You may also want to consider going one step further and keep them in a metal box.
Recently, thefts have taken the form of ‘relay attacks’, in which criminals use clever devices that make the car think the key is there when, in fact, it isn’t; they can then steal your vehicle. A metal box effectively blocks the signal that allows this.
If you do misplace your keys, make sure you take the right steps by reading our guide on what to do if you lose your car keys.
Remove your valuables
Don’t leave any valuables in the car and, in particular, don’t keep them on show.
That means no handbags on back seats or devices stuffed suspiciously under coats; even hiding sunglasses and sat-navs is advised.
If you drive a van, any tools or equipment are high value assets to thieves, so make sure you’ve got thorough insurance.
But critically, don’t leave any important documents in the car either. If you’ve got any bank or health records which never found their way out of the glove box, thieves could use these to steal your identity.
Similarly, if your address appears on any documents, your house could be targeted instead. Not keeping the vehicle handbook in the car but rather in a safe, separate place will likewise make it easier for the police to track and recover your vehicle in the event it is stolen.
Consider where you park
Where your car is parked has a huge impact on its susceptibility to theft.
When you’re out and about, be sure to always park in well-lit, public spaces near other vehicles or in a car park with CCTV monitoring and security staff. It may be easier to park on quiet roads but increased activity will deter thieves.
You should also extend these precautions to where you regularly park – i.e. at home –, as this plays a big role in the premiums you pay.
The best motor insurance deals take into consideration those who park securely. If you have a driveway, or even better a garage, use it. If your residential parking is down a back-alley, then consider renting a secured, monitored parking space nearby instead.
In fact, there are many things you can do to improve security when parking your car overnight.
Install security devices
Installing anti-theft technology, such as immobilisers, alarms, or trackers, is proven to be the best way of preventing car theft. There are many types of anti-theft security devices, some of which come as standard, so it’s best to do your research first.
At the budget-friendly end of the scale, opting for visible deterrents is a cheap and effective way of helping prevent your car being stolen.
Installing strong locks for your steering wheel, gearbox or pedals screams to criminals “I really wouldn’t bother, if I were you”. Because these deterrents are obvious, a thief will likely move on to another vehicle that’s less hassle.
Cars fitted with an immobiliser will only start with the correct key, meaning it can’t be hot-wired.
All modern cars should have an immobiliser already installed, but older models, specifically those from before 1998, may need to get one fitted.
Investing in a high-end, Thatcham-approved car alarm can also help to deter thieves and reduce your car insurance premiums.
You could also install a tracking device, whereby a transmitter is hidden in the vehicle. While these are more expensive methods that may not prevent theft in the first instance, you can be safe in the knowledge your car will be easily recovered should it be stolen.
If you’re looking for sleeker anti-theft devices, there are more subtle things you can do to improve car security.
One option is to etch your number plate into the windows and other parts of the car, or you could put very subtle identifiable markings across it.
Increase your home security
Finally, ensuring you have the best anti-theft devices installed in your home is a great deterrent for criminals. Camera systems, parking posts, lockable garages, and light sensors are all great ways to ensure your car is not an easy target.
What’s more, increasing your home security will not only help you find cheaper car insurance, but it will reduce your home insurance premiums too.
How can security affect your insurance policy?
When offering you a quote, car insurance providers will assess the likelihood of you making a claim when determining your premium, so the risk of theft or damage to your vehicle will be taken into consideration.
Factors such as parking, home security (such as garage access) and internal security systems all affect your car's security and can lead to higher premiums if the appropriate measures are not taken to protect it.
On the other hand, proving to your insurer that you're keeping your vehicle safe both on and off the roads can lead to significant reductions in your insurance premiums. From black boxes to dash cams, there are many devices available which you can use to prove these skills to your insurance provider.
What is a Thatcham device?
A Thatcham device is any piece of technology (as recognised by the Thatcham institution) in your vehicle that protects against theft.
There are several different classes of Thatcham devices, ranging from immobilisers to tracking devices, and which type you have in your car can vary the price of your insurance premium.
Is vandalism covered under my insurance policy?
In most cases, damage caused by vandalism will not be covered under your standard car insurance policy. Most insurers will include it as an optional add-on or as part of a larger, more expensive, comprehensive package.
Also, what is considered ‘vandalism’ can vary in definition between insurers, so make sure to read the terms of the agreement before committing.
Keeping your car safe from thieves is not the only consideration you need to make when protecting your vehicle, and thus your car insurance premiums.
Being safe whilst driving, particularly in hazardous and challenging conditions, is vitally important to protect your car, your no-claims bonus, and above all, yourself. And if you have a black box insurance policy, driving carefully can directly lead to cheaper premiums.