Keyless theft sees car theft insurance payouts surge by 29 per cent

Industry figures echo national crime statistics; insurers say surge “reflects the vulnerability of some cars to keyless relay theft”

 Car insurers paid out 29 per cent more for victims of car theft in 2018, with vulnerabilities related to keyless entry and go systems being blamed for the sharp rise.

Some £376 million was paid out by insurers following the theft of a vehicle, or theft from a vehicle, in 2018, up 29 per cent on the previous year, and the highest payout figure on record. The Association of British Insurers (ABI), which compiled the figures, say a theft claim was submitted every six minutes in 2018, with insurers paying out over £1 million a day.

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The rising insurance payouts echo national crime figures, which show the number of vehicles reported stolen to police increased by 48.7 per cent from the 2013/14 to 2017/18 financial years.

Laurenz Gerger, the ABI’s motor policy adviser called the rise “worrying”, and said it “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.

The ABI advises concerned motorists to park their cars in well-lit areas, keep keys far away from windows and external doors, and turn off keyless keys’ signals overnight if possible, or keep the keys in a signal-blocking Faraday bag.

Exclusive: car thefts reach six-year high

More cars were stolen in 2017 than at any point since 2011, with experts blaming falling police numbers and criminals circumventing vehicles’ security systems for the six-year high.

• Car security: how the industry is staying one step ahead of the criminals

Exclusive figures uncovered by Auto Express show 43,308 cars were reported stolen to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in 2017. That’s the highest number since 2011, and almost 9,000 more than in 2016. Previous research indicated rates of theft were on the rise, but relied on national crime surveys, or comprised data that included all types of vehicle.

Rising car crime has been linked to potential vulnerabilities in some security systems and falling police officer numbers, which are down by more than 20,000 since 2010.

RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams called our findings “a real cause for concern”, adding that while “manufacturers will stop at nothing to keep their vehicles secure”, it seemed “criminal groups are continuing to find ways around them”.

Year Cars reported stolen 2017 43,308 2016 34,584 2015 30,721 2014 32,538 2013 33,870 2012 38,716 2011 48,999 Source: DVLA/Auto Express

Williams also said police cuts could be impacting rates of car theft. “We are concerned that the declining number of police officers could be resulting in less investigation of motor crime like this, something that could be solved by forces having greater resources,” he explained.

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