HomeCar InsuranceThe cars most likely to be stolen: does your insurance cover theft?

The cars most likely to be stolen: does your insurance cover theft?

While driving a Ferrari or Porsche is bound to attract the attention of potential thieves, new research reveals Britain’s most stealable car is much less ostentatious.

Ford motor vehicles accounted for nearly a fifth of theft claims in 2022-23, according to analysis of Tesco Bank’s car insurance figures. But it’s not just the make that catches a thief’s eye – age and colour can also make your set of wheels a target.

While this shouldn’t stop you from buying your favourite motor, drivers should check their insurance offers the right level of cover, should the worst happen.

Which? takes a closer look at the cars that are most likely to be stolen and offers advice on how to protect your car from thieves. 

What cars are more likely to be stolen?

Car theft is on the rise in the UK, with figures from AA showing an increase of 25% in 2022. Some vehicles are more of a target than others, it appears.

Tesco Bank crunched its own car insurance data and found that 17% of claims for stolen motors were for Ford models. Land Rovers were also popular and took second place, accounting for 11% of claims, followed by Mercedes (10%), BMWs (8%) and Vauxhalls (8%). 

When it comes to stealing cars, age and colour also seem to matter. Vehicles between five and eight years old were responsible for 40% of Tesco Bank insurance claims, with cars manufactured in 2016 most likely to be stolen – they made up 12% of claims in 2022-23.

Black was the colour of most cars reported stolen, accounting for a quarter (26%) of all claims made to Tesco Bank’s car Insurance claims team. Grey was second (19%) and white (17%) third.

Parts are prized too

Even if your vehicle isn’t stolen itself, thieves are also prone to make away with expensive parts that can cost thousands of pounds to replace.

Dave Thompson, claims director at Tesco Bank, says: ‘While Land Rovers are sought after and can be sold on quickly, some models like Fords can be broken down pretty much overnight and sold on for parts the next morning. 

‘And while the precious metals in catalytic converters aren’t fetching as much as they once did, thieves are turning to other high-value parts such as the steering wheels in BMWs.’

Car theft hotspots

Further analysis of Tesco Bank car Insurance data reveals that Birmingham is a hotspot for car thefts, accounting for 8% of all claims made, followed by London (7%) and Sheffield (6%). 

Most thefts happen when drivers are tucked up in bed, with 36% of claims indicating the theft took place between midnight and 7am.

  • Find out more: best cars for 2023

Check your insurance covers theft

If you’re worried your car might get stolen, then be warned: not all insurance policies will cover the costs of theft. Your ability to claim – and the amount the insurer will pay out – depends on the level of cover you have bought.

Basic third-party insurance, which is the minimum you need to drive on UK roads, will only cover the costs of damage to someone else’s car or injury to another person. You won’t be able to claim anything if your vehicle ends up getting stolen. For that, you’ll need to buy third-party, fire and theft insurance or a comprehensive policy. 

If your car is eventually found and little damage has been done, then claiming should be as quick and straightforward as if you’ve been in an accident. However, if they don’t recover your car or the damage is too great, then your insurer should usually offer you the car’s market value so you can buy a replacement.

  • Find out more: best car insurance companies

Take steps to protect your car from theft

Even if your insurance does say it will cover theft, insurers can refuse a claim if they believe you’ve been careless. Plus, if your car is stolen and you make a claim, then it’s highly likely the cost of your premium will go up when it’s time to renew.

So it’s a good idea to take the following measures to prevent your car from being stolen in the first place.

1. Lock your car and keep your keys safe

It sounds obvious, but always make sure your car is locked – even if you’re just popping into the garage. Also, another given, but never leave your keys clearly visible in the car. 

You might also want to think about going a step further and storing them away at night. That’s because thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how they get inside your vehicle, using devices that can connect key fob signals and unlock cars remotely. 

To prevent that from happening, you can place your keys in a safe at home or use specially lined bags or wallets.

2. Park carefully

Choose your parking space wisely. Off-street or in a locked garage are usually the safest options. Failing that, make sure it is positioned in a well-lit spot either in a manned car park or on a residential street where people are likely to be passing by.

3. Never leave valuables inside

Having anything remotely of value on display in the car can attract unwanted attention from thieves. That includes mobile phones, money, bags or tech such as laptops and tablets. If you must keep them in the car, then lock them away in the boot or glove compartment.

4. Invest in an alarm

An alarm can be an effective deterrent for would-be thieves. Some alarm systems also come with a tracker so you can locate your car if it’s taken, as well as immobilisation, anti-grab and movement sensors. If you’re stretched for budget, you could instead consider buying a metal locking device placed over the steering wheel.

Upping the security on your car can also lower your premium, so it’s worth considering these added savings when weighing up the costs. 

  • Find out more: how to find cheap car insurance

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