With motor theft payouts in the UK up more than 20% in the first quarter of 2019 and keyless technology cited as among the drivers of car crime, AXA Insurance is calling on automakers to step up.
“The cost of car theft claims is rising but that trend can and must be reversed,” said customer claims director John Dacey in a statement sent to Insurance Business following the release of payout figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
“Car buyers and owners are increasingly aware of the risks associated with keyless technology and they often take the right steps to protect their vehicle. We welcome those individual actions. But motor manufacturers must now up their game and ensure their vehicles are less exposed to hacking.”
According to the ABI, passive keyless entry systems can be exploited using the so-called relay attack technique wherein perpetrators are able to “fool” the vehicle and the key by using devices that capture and relay the signal needed to unlock and start the car.
The trade body reported that in the first three months of the year insurers settled 16,000 claims for the theft of or from a vehicle.
“This was up on the 14,000 for the same period last year, to the highest quarterly figure since 2012,” noted the ABI. “Insurers are now settling a car crime claim every eight minutes.
“The cost of theft payouts, at £108 million, was up 22% on the same period last year, and works out at over £1.2 million paid to policyholders every day. In the last four years the overall cost of motor theft claims has doubled.”
Meanwhile, based on the ABI’s Motor Insurance Premium Tracker, the average premium currently stands at £466 – the lowest in two years. The association said this is likely to reflect some insurers passing on expected cost benefits in anticipation of Civil Liability Act reforms coming into effect.
Commenting on the issue of car crime, ABI’s motor insurance policy adviser Laurenz Gerger stated: “Car security has come on leaps and bounds but needs to keep pace with the ingenuity of car criminals. The rising number of theft claims being paid by 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 put the brakes on this unwelcome trend.”