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Vehicle thefts – what types of theft are covered?

In recent months we here have seen a rise in thefts around vehicles, from tools in vans overnight, to valuables on the car seat, to the vehicles themselves. As the cold closes in and the nights last longer, the opportunities for thefts rise. People naturally assume that their motor policies will cover them for these thefts, but policies often won’t respond for a variety of reasons:

Keys in the car

No one likes getting into a cold vehicle first thing in the morning; it may be very tempting to turn the keys in the engine and run the car for five minutes to warm it up while you pop back inside to finish your first coffee of the day.

However – your motor policy will include an exclusion for theft of any vehicle when the keys are in the vehicle whilst unattended. If you leave your car running to warm up, an opportunistic thief will likely take that chance and drive off with your vehicle and insurers won’t look to cover this. That five minutes to avoid the cold can cost you a lot more.

Tools in the van

Studies in 2017 suggested that 4 out of 5 contractors would leave their tools in their vans overnight, which means 4 out of 5 vans are a potential profitable target for thieves. Insurance policies will normally exclude theft from vehicles overnight unless the vehicle is in a garage or secure compound, if not exclude it completely. Leaving tools in vans overnight means you are running the risk of paying for new ones yourself.

If possible, tools should be removed from vehicles overnight. If you are a contractor working on site there will normally be cover for tools left in a secure area of the contract site. Where possible we would always advise to try to keep as many tools as possible on the contract site, as contract works insurance may be less onerous.

Sometimes insurers may look into providing cover when requested. Often this will require some additional security such as slam locks or locked tool boxes fitted to the fabric of the van. However you must tell your insurer if you will be doing this, otherwise cover will be excluded as standard.

Keep it out of sight!

We also see thieves taking opportunities when items are left on view in cars. From money in handbags to laptops thrown on the back seat, at night or in broad daylight. If they can see it they’ll likely break in and take it. Again, insurers won’t look to cover this if you’ve not taken reasonable precautions to safeguard your property.

If you do need to pop into the shops and can’t take your valuables with you, keep them locked out of sight either in the glove box or in the boot. Policies will often stipulate that cover will apply where they have been kept away, but if thieves can’t see anything worth taking they simply aren’t likely to break in.

By Sam Harby Dip CII Commercial Account Handler

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