The cost of having a vehicle stolen in the UK  

With police reports stating that vehicle thefts in the UK have nearly doubled in the last 5 years, it’s no surprise that increasing your vehicle’s security is beneficial. While no one wants the inconvenience of having their vehicle stolen, it can also be costly.   

What to do if my vehicle is stolen?  

If you find yourself a victim of vehicle theft, the first thing to do is report it to the police. You will need to make sure you have the registration number, In addition, they will ask you to confirm the make and model, the colour of the vehicle and also the contents of the vehicle. Once you’ve reported the incident, you will receive a crime reference number which you will need to give to your insurer.  

Is a stolen vehicle covered by insurance?  

While you may assume your insurance will cover a stolen vehicle, this isn’t always the case. It’s important to check before taking out insurance that you’re covered. Once you have insurance, have a read through your policy information to make sure you’re covered.  

Can an insurer reject my stolen vehicle claim? 

An insurer can reject your claim if they believe you hadn’t been careful enough. If you lost your car keys, or if you left them in or around the car, you are unlikely to have your claim covered. If there is no sign of a break-in, you may have to prove your keys weren’t easily accessible. Your insurer could also argue you did not secure your car well enough.  

Third-party insurance  

One instance where you’ll not receive cover is for third-party insurance. This is often the cheapest insurance and sometimes the preferred insurance for many, however, you will find you’re limited on what you can claim. If you take out third-party insurance, you will need to add fire and theft cover to your policy for an additional charge. For full coverage, it’s best to stick with a fully comprehensive policy.  

Extra charges and loss of value  

If you’re covered for your vehicle, your insurance may pay the market value for your vehicle, this could be lower than what you bought the vehicle for, meaning you may make a loss. In addition, while all insurance policies are different, there is a chance a pay-out by your insurers will end your policy. It’s also worth noting, if you’re paying your premium in instalments (the amount you pay for your insurance policy), you could have to continue paying it off until the policy has finished.  

What if the police recover my vehicle? 

If the police find your vehicle, that’s great, but it’s still not a problem solved. The first thing you will need to do is to tell your insurer, secondly, you will need to see if the vehicle has any damage, or if it’s been used to commit another crime or is unsafe to drive (the police will help with this).   

Getting a vehicle recovered  

The next thing for you to do is get your vehicle recovered. Police usually only keep a vehicle for 14 days and will notify the owner as soon as they have it. After 14 days, they will dispose of the vehicle if it isn’t collected. They also won’t release the vehicle until you pay any charges. The owner, or their agent, is liable for the statutory removal and storage charges.  

Arranging a collection  

If you’ve made an insurance claim for your stolen vehicle, you will need to speak to your insurer before arranging collection. The insurance company can sometimes send someone out to cover the charges and collect the vehicle themselves.   

If the insurer aren’t collecting the vehicle, you should be able to collect your vehicle yourself. The police will not release it until pound staff have checked the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). They can’t do it if the vehicle is locked.  

 If the vehicle is locked and you don’t have a key, or if your key won’t open it, they will arrange for a locksmith to gain entry. They won’t release the vehicle until this is complete. It may take several days, meaning you may have to pay extra for storage costs, ranging from £10-£20 per day.  

How much can the police charge?   

England and Wales The maximum charges for removals vary according to the size and condition of the vehicle.  

For a vehicle less than 3.5 tonnes (i.e. a car or a light van), the charges are as follows:   

  • Vehicle on road, upright and not substantially damaged or any two wheeled vehicle whatever its condition or position on or off the road – £150 
  • Vehicle, excluding a two wheeled vehicle, off road, upright and not substantially damaged – £200 
  • Vehicle, excluding a two wheeled vehicle, on road but either not upright or substantially damaged or both – £250 
  • Vehicle, excluding a two wheeled vehicle, off road but either not upright or substantially damaged or both – £300. Heavier vehicles cost more. 

Storage costs £10 per day for a motorbike, £20 per day for cars and more for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. Disposal of the vehicle costs £50 for a motorbike, £75 for a car and, again, more for heavier vehicles.   

Scotland charges  

In Scotland, the charge for removal is a flat rate £150 and the charge for storage is £20 for each period of 24 hours.  The charge for disposal is £150.  

In some cases, the insurance may cover the fee.  

Getting your vehicle back  

Once you get your vehicle back, is it highly recommended that you take it to a mechanic to see if there’s any damage. In some cases, the insurer may agree to pay for any repairs, but this isn’t always the case.  

Will insurance pay contents theft?

If you’ve had valuables stolen from your vehicle, you can claim anything from £100-£1000. However, insurers may exclude items such as: 

  • Cash 
  • Credit and debit cards 
  • Jewellery 
  • Tools 
  • Stock for business purposes 

The insurer may refuse to pay out for any items that are left in view. They may also refuse to pay out if there is no sign of a break-in to your car. 

Will my insurance go up?  

Once a vehicle is stolen, the PNC database will receive information about your vehicle to say it was stolen and found. Your vehicle will be logged on the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud and Theft Register, this holds the records of all vehicles in the UK that have been written-off or stolen. As a result, you may find your insurance quotes going up as insurers look at this record to help calculate how much you should pay for your policy.   

Will I lose my no claims bonus?  

 When you make a claim on your policy, you’ll lose some or all of your NCB if your insurer has to pay out, even if it’s not your fault. Some insurers offer NCB protection for a small fee, which means if you make a claim for something that isn’t your fault like a stolen vehicle, then it will not affect your NCB.  

Improving your vehicle security  

By adding additional security to your vehicle such as a Thatcham Approved tracker, this can lower your insurance premium, but not always. Increasing your security helps prevent theft, gives you peace of mind and can help police find your vehicle if it’s ever stolen.   

Cost of adding vehicle security

The cost of adding additional features to your vehicles such as trackers, alarms and immobilisers is a small price to pay compared to losing the vehicle. As Thatcham-Approved devices can help lower your insurance, they can actually save you money in the long run.   

If you’d like to improve your vehicle security, but don’t know where to start, get in touch and one of our expert advisors will talk you through the process, as well as helping find the best products for you and your vehicle within your budget.

If you're interested in purchasing a tracker, please get in touch.

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