In the light of a recent rise in car crime, Lancashire-based high street insurance broker, BP Insurance Brokers, is urging drivers to remember a key fact about their motor insurance policy.
Between May 2016 and April 2017, Lancashire saw a 20 per cent increase in vehicle crimes, despite sophisticated vehicle security systems. The easiest way for a thief to steal a vehicle is to prey on drivers who leave theirs unattended, with keys in the ignition or a key fob inside the car.
The motor insurance team at BP Insurance Brokers says many drivers do not realise that, if they do this, their insurance policy is unlikely to pay out for any claim for theft. This is a viewpoint also shared by the Financial Ombudsman which says: “Most do not realise that they lose their theft cover if they do.”
Relatively few drivers can say they never leave the keys inside an unlocked car when doing something else and thieves are aware of ‘key places’ where this could occur. These include locations near cash machines and postboxes and outside shops into which drivers might ‘nip’ to pick something up, or deliver it.
Many motorists leave cars unlocked on the garage forecourt and also frequently leave the key in the ignition on their own driveway, or outside their house. The latter often occurs in winter, whilst drivers are waiting for their car windows to defrost, but is also frequently the result of being distracted by something else when arriving home, whether that is getting a child out of a car seat or unloading the shopping.
The Financial Ombudsman warns that it is unlikely to find in favour of a motorist whose claim is refused by their insurer, if they have not taken every precaution to prevent theft of their vehicle, by removing the key and locking the car.
BP Insurance Brokers urges drivers to always lock their car as soon as they leave it. It also advises that they try the car door before walking away from the vehicle, to ensure any automatic locking mechanism has worked and not been blocked by a would-be car thief. It says drivers should check all windows are shut, as long as nobody and no animal inside the car needs cooling air in hot weather, and should perform the same check with the roof. Home delivery service couriers are advised to be particularly vigilant.
The insurance advisers at BP Insurance Brokers also urge motorists not to hand their keys over to anyone they do not know well, such as a car wash operator or airport parking firm, and to ensure they do not leave them on an office desk, or place where others could have access to them. A key can easily be cloned, so that a thief can steal a car at a later time.
BP Insurance Brokers’ managing director, Barry Pimlott, says: “Crime is on the up at present and car thefts are again making headlines. Motorists need to be extremely vigilant and make sure they do not accidentally leave their car keys in the ignition, or walk away from an unlocked vehicle that can quickly be accessed by a car thief and driven away.
“They should also not place their trust in anyone they do not know well, by handing over their keys. Finally, they should ensure they do not leave their car keys in a place from which they could be stolen by someone breaking a window, or hooking them through a letterbox. This really does happen, so keep your keys somewhere very safe and out of both view and reach.”