Analysis of the latest figures from Warranty Direct’s GAP insurance division has revealed an alarming increase in claims for car thefts and write-offs over the past three years.
Warranty Direct’s findings show claims for write-offs have proportionally risen by 55% since 2014. This has resulted in a considerable cost to both the insurer and consumer.
The average individual claim value for vehicles written-off over the three-year period was £3,765 with some of the highest individual claims being over £15,000.
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When analysing manufacturer trends, the brands most likely to be written off or subject to theft were BMWs and Fords, which made up 17% of total overall GAP claims. This was closely followed by Mercedes-Benz and Vauxhall in second place (11%) and Audis in third place (4%).
While BMW and Ford took the lead when it came to the highest percentages of overall claims for vehicles written off or stolen, the highest costing average claims were made by Mercedes-Benz drivers at £5,165 per person, closely followed by Audi drivers, whose claims averaged at £4,905.
Advances in immobiliser and keyless technologies resulted in a decline in vehicle crime throughout the 2000s. However, it seems criminals are now finding ways to counter the latest safety innovations and technology as vehicle-related theft has risen 30% since 2014.
Warranty Direct’s data has shown the average individual pay out for theft-related claims since 2014 resulted in £3,360 per customer.
Simon Ackers, Warranty Direct’s Chief Executive Officer commented on the results: “It’s clear from the recent steep rise in vehicle-related thefts and write-offs, advances in vehicle manufacturing and technology cannot always prevent irreparable damage. The motoring industry must continue to adapt and encourage consumers to guard against potential loss with GAP insurance and visual deterrents such as steering wheel locks and alarms, which could help protect vehicles from theft.”
The thefts of as many as 30,000 vehicles a year, worth £229 million, are not even investigated by police according to new research. Data from 43 of 45 UK police forces from the last six years shows that, of the estimated 117,000 cars a year stolen in the UK, 59,000 are lost entirely and half of these are deemed not worthy of police investigation.
The hardest hit are businesses, because police often classify the taking of fleet or courtesy cars a ‘civil crime’ and will not automatically open a case if a car is thought to have gone missing.
Last year, an HMIC Report revealed that, on average, a quarter of vehicle theft-related crimes in 2013 were not attended to by police.
The new research, by Accident Exchange and its motor fraud investigation team, APU, found that an estimated 700,000 theft-related car crimes took place between 2009 and 2014.
And, based on BCA’s average used car value, APU estimates a total monetary loss of £450mfor all vehicles not recovered and of this £229m for those that were not investigated at all.
Neil Thomas, APU’s Director of Investigative Services, said: “If a vehicle owned by a business rather than an individual – such as a fleet vehicle or garage courtesy car – goes missing, frequently the police tend to consider it a civil crime because the business has effectively allowed someone the use of that car.
“Increasing pressure on police forces in the form of budget cuts and overstretched resources means not enough time can be dedicated to the investigation and retrieval of stolen vehicles.
“But it isn’t just companies that are affected by the findings of our study – a proportion of those thefts not looked into will be private car owners too.”
“The monetary value of the lost vehicles can only be described as the tip of the iceberg, as many recovered vehicles are found damaged or burnt out and subsequently written off. In reality, the loss figure is likely to be higher still.
APU submitted Freedom of Information requests to all 44 police forces in the UK but found that part of the problem is that the way vehicle theft data is compiled is entirely arbitrary, with each force recording different information in different formats.
Mr Thomas continued: “This is further evidence that we need Police, insurance firms, law enforcement agencies and private companies to join the dots and collaborate if we are going to truly take the fight to car thieves.”
APU is a bespoke, anti-fraud unit which specialises in motor fraud and works with police forces across the UK as well as international crime-fighting organisations, including the NCA and NaVCIS. Stolen vehicle recovery and false insurance claim prevention undertaken by APU has also been solely responsible for saving approximately £350,000 in the past 12 months.