Vehicle thefts in England and Wales see insurers pay out nearly £1.5bn a year

Insurers are having to pay out close to £1.5 billion a year over vehicle thefts in England and Wales, a new study has found.

A Freedom of Information request by Kent-based Claims Management and Adjusting (CMA) has also found that though vehicle theft numbers have fallen – down to 100,000 per year in 2021 from 180,000 in 2006 – the recovery of stolen vehicles has dropped considerably, falling from 80 per cent in 2006 to just 28 per cent in 2021.

In addition, the estimated average cost of these stolen vehicles has jumped from £10,000 in 2006 to £20,000 in 2021, with insurers having to pay out more as a result. In total, the estimated yearly cost to insurers is £1.44bn.

Philip Swift, CMA’s managing director, said: “It is way too simplistic to say car crime is down from 500,000 offences in the mid-1990s to 100,000 today so we’ve largely solved it. Even from 180,000 a year in 2006, when the Home Office stopped publishing the annual car theft index, the picture has changed dramatically.

“15-odd years ago, the typical theft was an old Ford Escort worth less than £5k taken for ‘joyriding’ and later recovered, often burnt-out. Now, we commonly see nearly new Range Rovers worth £100k stolen by professional criminals, and they’re seldom found.”

Swift added that the chance of people being reunited with their cars after a theft was ‘becoming ever less likely’, while the current outlook for insurers is ‘significantly worse than a decade ago’.