Romford, Ilford and Barking, Birmingham and north London have the highest rate of reported car thefts in the UK, according to new research by MoneySuperMarket.
The price comparison website analysed millions of car insurance enquiries made on its site in the year up to 20 July 2021 to identify the areas with the highest and lowest rates of reported car theft claims within a five-year period.
It also revealed the safest areas for cars, with Scottish postcodes dominating these locations.
Here, Which? looks at the car theft hotspots in more detail, whether living in such areas can result in a surge in your premium and how to save on car insurance if you live in one of these locations.
Where are the UK’s car theft hotspots?
Below is a list of the 10 most targeted areas for car theft.
Romford, in east London, topped the list for a second year running, with a car theft rate of 16.38 per 1,000 insurance enquiries – an increase from 15.74 in last year’s analysis.
This was closely followed by Ilford and Barking, which had a car theft rate of 15.71, and Birmingham, which had a 13.33 car theft rate.
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Which areas have the lowest levels of car theft?
The table below shows the safest areas for cars in the UK according to the research.
Car owners might be able to get a bit more peace of mind in Scotland, including Dumfries and Galloway which has a 0.37 per 1,000 insurance enquiries rate for car theft, and Inverness, with a rate of 0.39. The Isle of Man had the same rate of 0.39.
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How does car theft affect insurance?
Car insurers base their premiums on risk across a range of categories.
So if you live in a car theft hotspot, insurers could class you as at a higher risk of having your car stolen and your premium could be set higher, even if you’ve never made a claim for this reason before.
If your car is actually stolen, premiums can surge even more.
Minor incidents, such as a chip in the windscreen, are less likely to lead to a major surge in cost, but car theft is much more serious.
According to recent research by Compare the Market, even crashing your car through bad driving could be lighter on your premium than car theft.
The study shows that drivers whose cars have been stolen in the past five years pay £836, on average. That’s £175 higher than a driver without any claims, or £58 more than a claim where two parties are at fault.
If your car is stolen once, your insurer may believe it’s more likely to happen again – especially if it’s in an area that has a high crime rate, so this can bump up your premiums further.
- Find out more: how to make a car insurance claim
Six ways to save on car insurance
If you live in a postcode where higher premiums are more likely, or want to cut costs in general, there are ways to save money on car insurance.
We outline some of these below:
1. Check out insurers that aren’t on comparison sites
Price comparison sites are a good place to start as they allow you to get multiple quotes quickly.
However, some insurers such as Aviva, Direct Line, and NFU Mutual don’t feature on any comparison sites.
So, to get the best picture of which provider can offer you the best deal, you should extend your search to these firms, too.
2. Consider a cheaper car to insure
The make and model of your car is a major factor in how your car insurance is priced.
Cars are given a risk rating by an advisory firm called Thatcham Research, and insurance trade body the Association of British Insurers will use this to award a rating of 1 to 50, which can help you see how expensive a car will be to insure.
You can head to the Thatcham website to find out the insurance rating for the next vehicle you buy or alternatively you can plug in details about the different cars you’re considering on a comparison website to see the difference.
3. Get quotes for different levels of cover
There are typically three varieties of car insurance you can go for ranging from third-party, third-party fire and theft, and comprehensive.
If you live in a high-crime area, you may be tempted to go for the lowest level of cover to bring your premium down, but you should check to see if this will really be the case.
When it comes to choosing between levels of cover, buying a more comprehensive policy can sometimes be cheaper. This is because insurers don’t just price policies according to the level of cover, but how much they’re paying out in claims to the people buying it.
So when less comprehensive policies are bought by drivers who tend to claim more, this will be worked into the price and could lead to a more expensive policy.
4. Tweak your excess
If you’re willing to pay more for your excess (the amount you pay in the event of a claim), your insurer may give you a lower premium.
Just remember to be realistic about what you can afford – you don’t want to be out of pocket if you need to claim, especially in areas where the risk of car crime is higher.
5. Consider multi-car insurance
You can cut insurance costs with multi-car cover – a special type of insurance for those with more than one car in the household.
But bear in mind that the value of a discount is relative to how pricey the insurer was in the first place.
6. Be careful when making modifications
Even small modifications to your car, such as new alloys, can cause your premiums to rise – and the change may be bigger when combined with how risky your area is deemed to be.
Always discuss changes you want to make with your insurer first, to see if they will impact the price of your policy.
- Find out more: how to find cheap car insurance