Motor traders and fleet owners experience rise in theft claims

Insurers are noting a sharp rise in the severity of theft claims for motor traders. Although overall motor vehicle theft is trending downwards (there were about 80,000 thefts in 2015, which is down 31 per cent from five years ago), motor traders and fleet owners are experiencing a dramatic uptick in the number and severity of theft claims since the second half of 2015. According to insurer research, this recent spate of motor trade thefts involves these three types of crimes:

• Catalytic converter theft. The catalytic converter, a pollution-control device connected to the vehicle’s exhaust system, uses a catalyst metal—typically platinum, palladium and rhodium. Although catalytic converters use a relatively small amount of these precious metals, they can have a worth of nearly £700 per ounce. Typically, vehicles that have a larger space between the ground and the axle have been targeted, as those vehicles offer thieves easier access.

• Vehicle theft. Generally, these thefts appear to have been carried out by organised groups of thieves that specifically target dealerships. In these instances, one member poses as a potential customer to scope out a dealership to identify whether the business has poor key security management.

• Parts theft. The theft of high-performance tyres and alloy wheels have been especially common. In addition, thieves seem to be targeting BMW and Land Rover manufactured vehicles.

With each of these trends, the common factors have been minimal security and lack of theft deterrents.

As this current rash of thefts is affecting all types of motor traders—including garages, dealerships and courtesy car services—your business needs to take necessary safety precautions. This could include the following:

• Implement a stringent key management system.
• Conduct regular security audits such as daily perimeter checks for damage and signs of entry.
• Install physical protection measures such as vehicle bollards, catalytic converter guards and palisade fencing.

As well as reviewing your security, you should get some advice on your insurance.

A-Plan can help you find the best commercial fleet or motor trade insurance policy for your needs. We have access to a range of insurers and provide expertise in this area. Please contact our commercial team to speak to a specialist.