UK Insurers Pay Record £1 Million ($1.3 Million) Each Day for Vehicle Thefts: ABI

March 28, 2019

A surge in vehicle thefts, including keyless car crime, has led to motor insurers paying out a record £1 million (US$1.3 million) every day, according to figures published by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

See below for ABI’s explanation of how keyless car thefts are accomplished.

A new vehicle theft claim is now being made every six minutes, with Home Office figures showing a 50 percent rise in vehicle thefts over the last five years, said ABI.

ABI’s 2018 motor claims report shows that:

  • The cost of vehicle thefts (including thefts from a vehicle) rose by 29 percent to at £376 million ($496.4 million) from 2017 figures, a record annual high. This equates to just over £1 million being paid every day.
  • The number of claims, at 56,000, rose 12 percent from 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 ($11.4 billion). This works out at £16,000 ($21,124) every minute. This was up by nearly half a billion pounds on 2017 to a record annual high.
  • The average overall claim was £3,082 ($4,069).
  • The increasing sophistication of vehicles and a weaker pound contributed to more expensive vehicle repairs, which cost £4.8 billion ($6.3 billion). Repairs included the policyholder’s vehicle or that of a third party and providing a replacement vehicle.

“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,” said Laurenz Gerger, ABI’s motor policy adviser, in statement.

“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 continued.

The ABI explained keyless car theft as follows:

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 two meter (6.6 feet) range of operation, which allows the car to be unlocked and started. Once started, the engine will not restart without the key present.

The ABI said that recent testing by Thatcham Research gave six of the eleven 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.

Source: Association of British Insurers

Related:

Every Day, More Than 200 Cars with Keys Inside Are Stolen in U.S.: NICB

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