Not much Christmas cheer in evidence
as all kinds of theft claims reach epidemic proportions
Property and Motor insurers are currently paying out millions of pounds per day, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). The pay-outs, the highest since records began in 2013, include unprecedented pay-outs for every type of theft, be they for commercial policies, personal insurances, house contents and of course thefts of motor vehicles.
With a rise in both the number of claims and cost of claims we are seeing record figures in every class for insurance. Motor Traders are certainly being targeted by criminals and the disruption to businesses is colossal. Cars are being stolen, tools and equipment thieved and the damage caused by a break in is enormous. Across all classes we haven't seen anything to compare with this number of theft claims since the bad old days of the 1980's, when theft claims reached epidemic proportions
It’s been an unprecedented year for the industry, and the ABI’s figures shed further light on why pay-outs have increased to such levels. Theft claims have risen by a startling 32% this year and sit at £271 million and rising.
Sadly these figures and trends come as no surprise to those of us on the front line. Our claims team have rarely seen such a disturbing and sustained period of theft claims. Cars, Vans and Motor Cycles are also apparently flavour of the month amongst gangs who appear very focused and target specific. Despite the sophistication of modern day alarms and security devices the criminals have and continue to find ways around these hurdles.
Household claims are also showing the same trend. Gangs are being more brazen in trying their luck, even in broad daylight even when they know someone is in the house. It really beggars belief, the complete 'devil may care attitude' of this current crop of hoodlums
Thieves are breaking in and stealing vehicle keys and driving away the family car, motorcycle or the works van. Still too many people don't take keys with them to the bedroom at night. Left on hall and kitchen tables it's a convenient, rich picking ground for the unscrupulous. House and car alarms are still a deterrent but its amazing how often people forget to use them as they were intended.
As Police forces across the country struggle to cope with reduced numbers of 'Bobbies on the Beat', almost 20,000 less than in 2010, it is essential we all step up, be more careful, lock doors and windows, set alarms and be more observant. Only by us all doing our bit, can we hope to try to dissuade those of a less community minded spirit, that the risk of being caught and prosecuted still outweighs the possible rewards.
Motor Vehicle Thefts and break in's on the increase
The last quarter of 2016 saw a very notable increase in the number vehicle thefts and theft of tools from vehicles and worryingly it doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.
The spate of “peeling” panels back on vans continues. Whilst the damage caused can be claimed for, what some clients don't realise is that theft of tools from vehicles is not always covered either because cover hasn’t been selected or isn't always available, or where they’ve do have some cover but the tools have been left in the vehicle overnight and the policy wording specifically excludes claims if that is the case
Sadly none of the insurers has a particularly speedy service when it comes to dealing with the theft of vehicles and/ or their contents at the moment. They do have to conduct numerous checks on the circumstances surrounding these claims, have discussions with the local Constabulary etc, it can and does take weeks before an offer is made, accepted and a payment made.
Another concern clients cannot avoid is that if a vehicle is stolen or damaged and off the road as a result of a theft or break in, we can’t do anything to get them access to a temporary replacement vehicle. So for some clients who say only have a couple of vehicles, they’re stuck between real day to day pressure on their business or the unrecoverable expense of hiring a replacement while the claim is being processed.
The trend and the possible implications of this recent increase in thefts, is something worth thinking about, not just at renewal but at any other time of the year as well. If you don't know if you have cover for tools, or you may have decided against covering them in the past, it might be time to think again but be aware of what is covered and what is not and if there are warranties and conditions in place.
Similarly it is a good time to remind everyone to be extra careful not to leave keys in vehicles. Also just take a moment to think about where you leave your vehicle to minimise the chance of a theft, is it under a street light and not around a dark corner, is it covered by CCTV? Make sure the vehicle is always, locked, alarmed and the immobiliser activated, even if you are leaving it for only a few seconds. We can all be more be vigilant as a result of the increase in thefts and take some extra precautions.
Don't for instance leave your car or van running on your drive, demisting the windows after scraping off the ice some wintry morning and disappear indoors to finish your coffee. There are dozens of instances every year of vehicles being left with their engines running and keys in situ where the local opportunist thief cannot believe their luck. Your insurers, however nice and generally sympathetic won't be as understanding.
Uncertain times or exciting times....or maybe a bit of both?
Since the Brexit vote in June the value of the Pound has fallen, we have changed Prime Minister, seen mixed and at times confusing Economic indicators from the Treasury, seen the horrors in Syria continue unabated, watched as the migrant camps in Calais were closed and stood helpless as one atrocity after another tainted the world. David Cameron is a but a distant memory, a week is a long time in politics as someone once aptly said.
Add to that mix the infighting in the Labour Party, the Scot's threatening independence again. We watched, baffled and bewildered at the spectacle of Trump vs Clinton and the race to the White House across the pond. It has been a fairly turbulent few months. So as we hurtle towards the end of 2016 at a rate of knots just exactly where are we?
Brexit still headlines every news bulletin. We are going to trigger article 50 in the New Year says our 2nd ever Woman Prime Minister (who saw that coming, certainly not Boris). Politicians on both sides of the Commons, let alone across Europe all in full posturing mode and loving every sound bite opportunity. I suspect it won't end up being hard Brexit or soft Brexit but somewhere in between, a compromise likely to upset both camps and please neither.
Mark Carney at the Bank of England is keeping calm. He told local business leaders recently through his Northern representative, that despite the balance of payments deficit and the devaluing of the Pound on the World Markets that our financial system is stronger than ever to withstand any kind of economic shock, certainly infinitely better than it was pre the crash of 2008. He is encouraged by the number of start up businesses, employment figures and exports, whilst he is cautious about the growth figures and any longer term pressure on inflation. He is though apparently confident that Great Britain PLC is doing ok and will continue to be ok, whatever type of Brexit we end up with.
In the local economy it is clear some firms are doing very nicely, others sadly are not and are finding it a real struggle to fill order books and to keep their doors open from month to month. Local business leaders agree the confused picture is a reality and some firms have already lost their fight....we live in uncertain times.
Abroad Mr Putin appears to like the power rush his recent muscle flexing in Urkraine and Syria has given him and he is taking advantage it seems, of the West's general state of uncertainty and the vacuum which always happens in the lead up to a new President of the United States being sworn in. Like our own Brexit result and other elections elsewhere, America was in the mood for change but unsure of Hillary and wary of Donald J Trump. Even the most famed commentators, the world over never saw DJT becoming the next resident of the White House. We are all somewhat fearful and I suspect we may never have seen anything quite like his style of presidency.
Nevertheless, we live in hope, all we can do is keep our heads down, plough on and make the best of it. The half empty mob squirming and the half full lot bobbing up and down excitedly and always looking forward. We are a strange lot and that's for sure. Here's to a peaceful, quiet time leading up to Santa's arrival this weekend and fingers crossed for as little of the white stuff as we can please.