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Drivers risk £9.1bn in holiday car contents theft

Holidaymakers could lose out due to insurance shortfall

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Drivers taking their cars on a summer holiday are being warned to keep their valuables safe, after a new uSwitch survey revealed the risks of car contents theft.

Valuables in vehicles

More than half (58%) of Brits admitted to leaving valuables in their car while travelling either in the UK or abroad.

Holidaymakers leave an average of £840 worth of valuables per person in their vehicle while they’re away, with two mobile phones, two tablets, two wallets and three packed suitcases unattended in the average family car.

One in six (16%) believe their car is a safe place to store their belongings, with two fifths (43%) comfortable to leave their valuables in their vehicle overnight. However, recent crime statistics reveal nearly a quarter of a million cars are broken into each year, with 80% of thefts occurring at night.

Insurance shortfall

Those who do fall victim to theft may find themselves left short by their insurance cover. Nearly two thirds (64%) of drivers are unsure of the maximum amount they can claim if their possessions are stolen – but the average car insurance policy offers just £250 cover for car contents, far below the average value of goods stashed in holidaymakers’ vehicles. This equates to a shortfall of £9.1 billion across all UK drivers.

And with two in five policyholders (43%) opting for an excess of at least £250, many drivers risk not getting a penny in the case of an insurance claim for car contents theft.

Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch, said: “Given the rise in thefts from cars it’s surprising to see how much money drivers are prepared to lose by making it easier for thieves to steal their possessions during their summer holidays. This is particularly true as for many drivers their insurance policy is only likely to cover a fraction of the cost of those possessions.

“It’s vital to insure your luggage and personal items when driving in the UK. This is particularly true when you are going to be taking lots of expensive gadgets with you — so it pays to know exactly how much you are covered for and ensure you aren’t caught out should you need to claim.”

Lack of clarity in cover levels

In some cases it’s not so simple to determine how much cover is included in a car insurance policy, with many of the best-known insurers only advising of the contents cover level after the policy has been purchased:

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Rod Jones continued: “Some insurance policies won’t tell you the level of cover you’ll receive for your personal possessions upfront. This will leave you in the dark to how much cover you are actually entitled to until after you’ve taken out your policy. Furthermore, most policies cap the level of cover to around £250 — which in some cases is less than the excess consumers will have taken out.

“If you can avoid it, don’t leave your valuables in your car overnight, especially when you’re away on holiday, and make sure that particularly expensive items are covered by separate home, travel or gadget insurance policies.”

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