Rise in keyless car thefts drives record insurance payouts

UK motor insurers paid out a record £1m every day last year, according to a new report from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The insurance industry body said that a surge in vehicle thefts, including keyless car crime, is behind the increase in payouts.

Using a technique known as a 'relay attack', criminals can exploit passive keyless entry systems to gain entry and start a vehicle without the key.

Home Office figures reveal rising vehicle crime, with a 50% increase in vehicle thefts over the last five years.

In fact, a new vehicle theft claim is now made every six minutes.

The ABI's motor claims 2018 report shows that the cost of vehicle thefts (including from a vehicle) rose to a record annual high of £376m, up 29% on 2017, which equates to just over £1m being paid every day.

The number of claims, at 56,000, was up 12% on the prior year.

The cost of all motor claims paid, including property damage, personal injury and theft, amounted to over £8.6bn - also a record high, and a year-on-year increase of nearly half a billion pounds. The average overall claim was £3,082.

Insurers paid out £4.8bn in vehicle repairs - repairing the policyholder's vehicle or that of a third party and providing a replacement vehicle.

Increasingly sophisticated vehicles and the weaker pound contributed to more expensive vehicle repairs.

Laurenz Gerger, ABI's motor policy adviser, described the rise in car crime as "worrying" and highlighted 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," Gerger added.

Despite rising payouts, the ABI said the average motor insurance premium fell in 2018 - the first annual decrease since 2014.

To reduce the risk of keyless relay theft, the ABI recommends parking your car in a well-lit area, keeping your car keys well away from external doors or windows, and turning off the signal overnight or keeping your keys in a signal-block pouch.

Make sure your policy covers you for Vehicle Replacement and Theft Protect along with key care cover by getting a quote from us today by visiting our car insurance page.