A surge in vehicle thefts, including keyless car crime, has led to motor insurers paying out a record £1 million every day according to figures published today by the Association of British Insurers. A new vehicle theft claim is now being made every six minutes. The figures reflect rising vehicle crime, with Home Office figures recording a 50% rise in vehicle thefts over the last five years.
ABI’s motor claims 2018 report published today shows that:
- The cost of vehicle thefts (including from a vehicle), at £376 million, rose by 29% on 2017, to a record annual high. This equates to just over £1 million being paid every day. The number of claims, at 56,000, rose 12% on 2017, with a new theft claim being made every six minutes.
- The cost of all motor claims paid, including property damage, personal injury and theft was over £8.6 billion. This works out at £16,000 every single minute. This was up by nearly half a billion pounds on 2017 to a record annual high. The average overall claim was £3,082.
- £4.8 billion was paid out in vehicle repairs – repairing the policyholder’s vehicle or that of a third party and providing a replacement vehicle. The increasing sophistication of vehicles and a weaker pound contributed to more expensive vehicle repairs.
Laurenz Gerger, ABI’s motor policy adviser, said:
“The resurgence in car crime is worrying. The record amounts paid to motorists by their 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 reverse this unwelcome trend.
Keyless car theft explained
Passive keyless entry systems, which allow drivers to open and start their cars without removing the key fob from their pocket, can be exploited using a technique called the ‘Relay Attack.’ Usually operating in pairs, one criminal will hold a device up against the car, to capture the signal it sends out to the key. It then ‘boosts’ this signal to another device by the front wall of the house, which relays the signal to the key inside. This fools the car and key into thinking they are within the 2m range of operation, allowing the car to be unlocked and started. Once started the engine will not restart without the key present.
Recent testing by Thatcham Research. gave 6 of the 11 vehicles launched this year a ‘Poor’ rating as the keyless entry/start system they have as an option has no security measures to prevent theft by criminals using the so-called ‘Relay Attack’ technique.
Three simple steps to reduce the risk
- Park your car in a well-lit area
- Keep car keys well away from external doors or windows
- Turn off the signal overnight or keep the keys in a signal-block pouch.