Car Theft Insurance Payouts at Highest Level for Seven Years
Car insurance payouts for motor theft are at their highest level for seven years, according to the Association of British Insurers.
The latest data from the ABI has revealed that around £108 million was paid out in car theft insurance claims between January and March 2019, which equates to around £1.2 million being paid out every day. This figure is around 22% higher than the amount of payouts over the same period in 2018 and is higher than for any quarter since 2012.
For the first quarter of this year, victims of car theft in the UK were receiving a payout from their insurers every eight minutes on average. A total of around 16,000 car insurance claims were settled over the three months, compared to 14,000 over the first quarter of last year.
The ABI has said that a rise in keyless car thefts and the vulnerability of many newer models to this type of criminality has led to this surge in vehicle theft in the UK. A recent study by Thatcham Research found that six of the eleven vehicle models launched this year had a poor security rating. These include the Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Nexo, Kia ProCeed, Lexus UX, Porsche Macan and the Toyota Corolla Hybrid.
According to figures from the Home Office, instances of car theft have soared by around 50% over the last five years. There have been calls recently from both campaigners and politicians for car manufacturers to improve security for keyless vehicles.
New keyless technology allows criminals to open and start cars in as little as 20 seconds. Thieves will usually work in pairs of two, with the first standing by the car with a relay box and the second near the house with another relay box, which then boosts the signal from the keys inside the home back to the relay box near the car, tricking the vehicle into unlocking itself.
“The continued growth in car crime must be reversed,” said Laurenz Gerger, policy adviser for motor insurance at the ABI. “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.”
The surge in the total cost of insurance payouts has also been attributed to the rising costs of technology used in newer models. For example, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, one of the most popular models of car in the UK, has seen the cost of its headlight soar by around 400% in recent years, from £163 for older models to £840 for the newest model. Similarly, a windscreen for a Ford Focus cost £147 in 2008-09 but has risen to around £468 for post-2015 models.