Insurers issue warning as keyless motor theft soars

Car industry

The number of motor theft claims paid out by insurers in the first quarter was the highest since 2012, leading insurers to call for action from motor manufacturers.

A claims payout is being made to a victim of car crime on average every eight minutes, according to figures from the Association of British Insurers. During the first three months of the year, 16,000 claims of theft of or from a vehicle were settled by insurers.

The Home Office has reported a 50% increase in vehicle thefts over the last five years, partly owing to criminals bypassing keyless technology.

Meanwhile, the cost of such claims has risen by 22% on the same period last year, according to the figures provided. The cost of pay outs hit £108m.

Vehicle repair costs have also continued to rise. The cost during the quarter was a record £1.2bn.

Laurenz Gerger, ABI motor insurance policy adviser, 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.”

John Dacey, customer claims director, Axa, added: “The cost of car theft claims is rising but that trend can and must be reversed. Car buyers and owners are increasingly aware of the risks associated with keyless technology and they often take the right steps to protect their vehicle. We welcome those individual actions. But motor manufacturers must now up their game and ensure their vehicles are less exposed to hacking.”

However, while car crime claims costs are rising, the ABI motor premium tracker has shown that premiums are at their lowest in two years, at an average of £466.

The incoming introduction of Civil Liability Act reforms is likely to have encouraged motor insurers to pass on cost savings to customers, according to the ABI.

In addition, new vehicle registrations in March saw an increase in new cars purchased by lower risk, mature drivers.

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