Vehicle incidents giving rise to claims commonly causes the victim distress, inconvenience and financial hardship.
Commonly a report of the crime is made promptly to the police in the hope the vehicle will be recovered, ideally without damage. However, as we have previously conveyed, the number of vehicle thefts is on the increase, the value of cars taken is generally much higher than years ago but the recovery of these vehicles by the police has fallen. The odds of the vehicle being returned to a victim have decreased.
Where the police have been unable to find the vehicle and reunite it with its owner, the victim, it may be thought reasonable for a constabulary to bend over backwards to help the victim receive compensation from their insurer and achieve ‘closure’; put the matter behind them. Sadly, this is not the case and the ability for loss adjusters/insurers to acquire copy police reports took a step backwards in 2022 when a new ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ was issued by the City of London police that complicates the issue, has created a disjointed, delaying procedure.
The following is intended to assist a victim to understand the theft enquiry process, what is required and how they can help us (and their insurers) help them.
The value of vehicles has increased substantially over the years yet constabulary consideration appears to have diminished. It is common for vehicle values to exceed £20,000, and not uncommon for them to be over £50,000. It is unsurprising that thieves target vehicles – the risk/reward favours a crook; police reports have changed little from the 1980’s when a crime report was endorsed ‘vehicle left locked secured, unattended, unable to assist re suspects‘, save that now, it is unlikely an officer will even attend the victim’s address.
Police investigation is superficial, a dismissive acceptance that ‘cars can be taken without keys’ seemingly used to suggest this was possibly the cause and there will be no avenues of enquiry. A theft report is taken over the phone, an officer should ‘pop it on PNC’* … it is then a case of sit and wait … will the vehicle be spotted, located and recovered?
*add the VRM to the Police National Computer (PNC) by creating a LoS (Lost or Stolen) report
The casual approach to vehicle theft is evidenced by our own experience. During the investigation, we will regularly check the PNC LoS register. Often we learn the vehicle is no longer recorded as stolen yet have not been advised by the insured or insurer that its whereabouts is now known Commonly this is because:
- the police have located the vehicle, and recovered it but have overlooked notifying the victim
- the police have failed to ‘confirm’ the theft on PNC – should this not occur, after 6 weeks, the VRM is automatically removed from the LoS register.
More about this can be read here – ‘My Vehicle is NOT recorded Stolen‘.
Why do my insurers want information?
One answer to this and a relatively simple, straightforward one, is that they wish to check what you stated at proposal is correct. Your policy was issued on the basis of ‘utmost good faith’ that is to say, your insurer believed what you told them when taking out the policy and based upon the information, provided insurance to you. This page is not a legal guide, we do not provide legal advice and more about ‘utmost good faith’ can be found online, for example, here.
No one wants to wait hours or even days to be provided with a policy for their vehicle. For the sake of simplicity, consider one aspect; if there are 24 million insured cars on the road, each renewing their policy annually, that is 2 million renewals/month, or 66,666 per day (every day in a 30-day month). Imagine, if you can, an insurer attempting to verify each aspect of the information provided for each (example below). Instead, an insurer accepts what they are told and whilst some enquiries will be undertaken where concerns are evident, at the point of a claim, the insurer will review the claim facts and take the opportunity to verify the information provided at the proposal.
What can I do to help insurers help progress my claim?
Generally, the best thing to do is to have information and documentation available. To assist you we have provided further information about this and links to information sources her.