Theft of vehicles is not exactly a new phenomenon in the insurance world. However over the last year the pandemic has brought with it some new problems.
Are you at risk of vehicle theft?
As many people have been furloughed across the UK, there has been no need for their vehicles to be on the road, as such many companies have SORNED these vehicles to reduce their monthly outgoings.
If a vehicle is SORNED it must be kept in a garage, on a drive or on private land. This vehicle cannot be driven or parked on a public road.
Insurers have been scrutinising theft claims even more diligently over the pandemic period and this area has been a main investigation point, as despite the strict guidelines of a SORNED vehicle, some drivers are continuing to drive the vehicle and park them on a road, thus invalidating any claim.
Another area that has been a strict focus of Insurers Claims Investigators is the MOT status for each vehicle. During the first coronavirus lockdown, drivers whose vehicle was due an MOT between 30th March 2020 and 31st July 2020 were given a six – month extension on their MOT certificate. However, despite further lockdowns, the government has not made any such announcement and a valid MOT is therefore required for all vehicles. Insurers have turned down claims for repairs where there is no valid MOT certificate and have suggested theft claims may be declined for the same reason. Make sure all your vehicles have a valid MOT where required.
Keyless car theft (aka Relay Theft) is where the signal from a key for a so-called Keyless Entry car is captured by somebody standing outside the victim’s house/workplace using a device.
The device transmits the signal to the thief standing near the vehicle, this then fools the car into thinking the key is nearby and so it allows the doors to be opened and the ignition started.
Thieves only need to be within a few metres from your car keys to capture the signal. And a Keyless car theft can take only 20-30 seconds. If you have to push a button on your car keys to enter your car you are not at risk of being hacked. A study was carried out by the General German Automobile Club, who tested 237 keyless cars and found 230 vehicles could all be unlocked and started using Relay Crime. To protect your keyless entry vehicle from being a victim of relay theft, here are some quick tips:
- Use a Signal Blocking Pouch – this stops thieves been able to amplify the signal.
- Turn off keyless fob’s wireless signal.
- Use a steering wheel lock.
Theft of Catalytic Converters
The theft of catalytic converters from cars has jumped more than 100% in the UK in the last 2 years, thieves are stealing the part of vehicle exhausts that clean up emissions because they are made using valuable metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
The devices are fitted to most cars and changes gases, such as carbon monoxide into less harmful emissions and recently the price of the metal used to make them has risen. The price of a catalytic converter can range from £200 to over a £1000. Thieves using an electric saw can cut off a catalyser and get away in around 60 seconds.
Police advise car owners to take steps to deter thieves, such as parking in an area covered by security cameras, fitting a device like a cage over the catalytic converter or putting a security mark on it, to help the authorities to trace it if stolen.
What Romero Insurance Brokers Recommends
Take more action alongside thorough preventative measures to make vehicles and their theft attractive parts harder for the criminals to steal. Also make sure that there will be no cover issues if you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of such crimes.
- Make sure SORN vehicles are off the road and out of use.
- MOT should be completed by the correct date. If you are unsure when the MOT needs to be completed by, please check here.
Boost the security of your vehicle with:
- Diskloks. These can be purchased for around £100 and fully cover the steering wheel making it a long and difficult process to be removed by force. This would deter a criminal as it would take far too long and be too big a risk for them to try and steal.
- Handbrake/Gearstick locks. These can add an extra layer of protection that make it almost impossible to get off quickly and discreetly, further deterring a would-be thief.
- Telescopic Anti Ram post. These posts rise behind your vehicle when it is parked on your drive and makes it impossible to move the vehicle without removing the metal bar.
- Stop locks. These can be fitted to vans, as they make it incredibly difficult to prise open the doors.
- Pick a safe place to park. Thieves are always on the hunt for vehicles that look vulnerable, for example parked in a remote or badly lit area.
- Where possible, park close to windows and doors so that you can keep your eye on the vehicle.
- Avoid parking in dark, unlit areas.
- Where possible park the vehicle in a secure building or compound.