If left unchecked, the significant increase in the theft of keyless cars threatens to reverse the first drop in motor premiums and insurance since 2014. Luckily, a low-tech solution exists – and metal tins could potentially save the insurance industry millions of pounds.
The fobs used for keyless cars transmit a signal to the vehicle when they are nearby, which allows the car to be opened and operated without the use of a traditional key. Thieves use a relay device to trick the car into thinking the key is nearby when it actually is not in order to gain access.
This has contributed to an increase in incidences of theft. 2018 saw a 12% rise in the number of overall car thefts compared to 2017, with the gross cost of these claims skyrocketing by 29% over the same period according to Association of British Insurers (ABI) statistics (specific data on the theft of keyless cars is not available from the ABI).
This trend is detrimental to insurers and motorists alike, as an increase in the total value of claims being paid could potentially put upward pressure on motor premiums, which saw a slight drop in 2018 for the first time in four years. Additionally, keyless technology was previously reserved for luxury vehicles, but has now started to filter down to mainstream models – creating more opportunities for thieves to capitalise on.
Fortunately, this problem has a relatively simple fix. Car owners simply need to keep their keys away from doors or windows and put them in a faraday cage (a metal biscuit tin is a rudimentary version) that will block the signal transmitted by the key. Insurers can also provide policyholders with a faraday pouch when they purchase their motor policy; these can cost as little as £5.99. Insurers could go as far as to stipulate that claims of this nature will not be paid out if the car owner was negligent in the safekeeping of their keys.
While this may be hard to prove, the threat of no payout will certainly help to change behaviour with keyless cars and insurance. And a high-tech solution is not necessarily needed in this case. While a biscuit tin is not the most elegant response, it could save you from waking up to an empty driveway.
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