Friday, 17 June 2011

Ford Transit Remains Top Of The Thief Hit List

The Ford Transit remains at the top of a car thief’s hit list reveals the UK’s police unit dedicated to vehicle crime, the ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS).

Thieves’ Favourites

The workman’s favourite is the most popular vehicle to be stolen in the first quarter of 2011,* illustrating that it’s not just those with high-end vehicles that need to be wary of theft. Not only does a van such as the Ford Transit prove to be valuable in terms of spare parts or as scrap metal, but the lure of potential tools and other contents stored in the back makes it irresistible for thieves.

“Vehicles appearing in the list may surprise motorists,” said Head of AVCIS, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hooper. “Although high-end cars are stolen to order by criminals, those driving more affordable vehicles should not be complacent. Whatever vehicle you drive, security should always be a priority.”

The list has been released as part of Car Crime Awareness Week, which runs 13-19 June 2011, in order to raise general awareness of vehicle crime and remind motorists to be vigilant and security-conscious.

Top ten stolen vehicles in Q1 2011

1) Ford Transit

2) Vauxhall Astra

3) Ford Fiesta

4) Volkswagen Golf
5) Vauxhall Corsa
6) BMW 3 Series
7) Ford Focus
8) Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

9) Ford Mondeo
10) Honda Civic
 As part of Car Crime Awareness Week, AVCIS is advising motorists to follow these guidelines to prevent their vehicles from being targeted by criminals:

• Ensure that car keys are not left in sight within your house: thieves often fish keys through letterboxes and open windows
• If you have a garage, store your car there whenever possible

• With the summer months approaching, people often leave doors and windows open: ensure your keys aren’t easily accessible for opportunist thieves, but equally do not hide them and put yourself at risk of harm from a determined thief

• Lock your car whenever you leave it. Even if you are simply unloading the car, make sure that you remove the keys and lock the vehicle. If your car is stolen through these means if often invalidates your insurance
*1 January – 31 March 2011 AVCIS data on file

Almost 9,000 vehicles across the UK were stolen in just 36 days at the beginning of 2011, reports the Association of Chief Police Officers Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS).

The statistics have been revealed ahead of AVCIS’ Car Crime Awareness Week, which takes place on 13-19 June 2011. The initiative aims to raise the public’s awareness of vehicle crime methods in order to drive down offences.

This new data illustrates that 50 per cent of thefts were made when a vehicle was left at the owner’s home address or close by, including 17.6 per cent through the burglary of properties to obtain car keys.

A third were stolen when vehicles were away from the home and four per cent of crimes during the 36 day sample were made by opportunist thieves, where keys were left in or within easy reach of the vehicle. Shockingly, this would mean that annually 3,400 thefts could be easily prevented through heightened awareness.

“These figures demonstrate that vehicle crime continues to be an issue across the UK,” said Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hooper, Head of AVCIS. “Criminals will use a variety of means to steal cars, from towing them away or simply driving them off when owners leave the keys in the ignition to burgling houses and sophisticated attacks on manufacturers’ security systems.

“Our aim is to increase general awareness, including encouraging motorists to take simple precautions and advise manufacturers of criminals’ methods so they can continue to help drive down vehicle crime.

In the lead up and during Car Crime Awareness Week AVCIS will release information on the current state of vehicle crime relating to freight vehicles, agricultural equipment, caravans and motorhomes, as well as to the general motorist.

For more information on vehicle crime and AVCIS visit  or the Car Crime Awareness Week Facebook page  .

UK lost or stolen vehicles 1 January 2011 – 5 February 2011
(36 day sample*)

Number & Method of theft

• 2,916 (33%) Home address or vicinity where the owner claims to have the keys
• 2,824 (32%) Unattended away from the home where the owner claims to have the keys

• 1,555 (17.6%) Car key burglary

• 1,037 (11.7%) Unrecorded details/unconfirmed loss/vehicle not stolen

• 342 (3.9%) Unattended with keys

• 98 (1.1%) Direct robbery of vehicle

• 54 (0.6%) Acquired by fraud
 *Statistics have been generated from the Police National Computer using keywords. Additional offences may have occurred and are not identified within this report.


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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Are you blacklisted? We reveal the addresses insurers won’t touch and the disturbing reasons why...

Birmingham generates one in 10 fraudulent claims

Honest motorists face soaring premiums as a ‘fraud epidemic’ sweeping the country causes insurers to blacklist certain postcodes in secret.

Motorists have seen a record 40 per cent hike in premiums over the past year, with the average annual comprehensive policy forecast to break the £1,000 barrier within 12 months.

Insurers say a major reason for this increase is fraudulent claims that are estimated to cost £2.7billion a year, adding £44 to the annual premium of honest motorists

Read more:
Confidential documents from a leading fraud specialist shown to Money Mail pinpoint areas across the country where insurers are putting premiums up even further because of high concentrations of fraudulent claims. And brokers say some insurance firms are refusing to cover motorists at all in certain areas.

Common frauds include staged accidents, often perpetrated by criminal gangs who deliberately cause innocent motorists to crash into them. Last week, three more people were jailed for a £5.3  million ‘cash-for-crash’ scam at Luton Crown Court.

Other examples include bogus injury claims — whiplash being the most common — and fronting, where parents cut costs by claiming they are the main driver on an insurance policy for their child’s car.

Each year, Keoghs — a law firm specialising in investigating suspicious claims on behalf of insurance companies — publishes the worst areas for fraud. But it also provides insurers with secret information on the worst postcodes. This list, which is not made public, has been obtained by Money Mail.

The top ten areas for suspicious claims are parts of Birmingham, Liverpool, Bradford, East London, Manchester, North London, Bolton, Blackburn, Southall and Oldham. These towns and cities account for more than four in ten suspicious claims.

The worst ‘blackspot’ is Birmingham — generating almost one in ten suspicious claims. This compares with fewer than one in a hundred in West London. But the analysis given to insurers also shows huge variations within towns and cities.

The postcode B8 — east of Digbeth in Birmingham — generated almost 13 per cent of suspicious claims in the city. Meanwhile, just over 1  per cent came from B15 in Edgbaston, according to 2010 analysis.

Areas that have seen the biggest growth in suspicious claims this year include Newcastle, Peterborough, Preston and Chester — all now rated as ‘fraud blackspots’.

James Heath, head of counter fraud strategy at Keoghs, said: ‘We are now seeing what can reasonably be described as a fraud epidemic across the UK.

'It is clear from these results that fraud is no longer restricted to the country’s most heavily built-up areas.’

The result is that even law-abiding drivers without a claim to their name who live in these areas can struggle to find affordable insurance. One insurance broker, based in London, told Money Mail about several quotes he had recently secured on behalf of customers where most insurers had refused to provide cover because of the area in which they lived.

One 58-year-old male driver living in Wood Green, North London — N22 — saw his premiums double from £727 to £1,598 when his policy came up for renewal this year.

Zurich, Ageas, Axa, Provident and Royal & Sun Alliance all refused even to provide a quote, labelling it an ‘unacceptable’ area. A customer living in E4 — Chingford, East London — had a similar problem.

The broker said: ‘There is no doubt some postcodes are blacklisted by most insurance companies because these areas are deemed to be too high risk.’ Other insurance brokers report a similar story.

Ian Crowder, from the AA, said: ‘It’s a bit of a postcode lottery. Certainly some areas are in danger of being blacklisted by certain insurance companies because they are seen to pose such a high risk.’

Graeme Trudgill, head of corporate affairs at trade body the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, said: ‘As with flooding, there are certain areas that insurers are just not keen on. We’ve heard of rates in some parts of Birmingham tripling.’

The insurance industry — spearheaded by its trade body the Association of British Insurers — says it is doing everything it can to crack down on fraud. In 2006, it set up the Insurance Fraud Bureau to detect fraud and expose criminal gangs. It pools the information of insurance companies and is helping police on 27 police investigations.

Glenn Marr, director of the IFB, said: ‘This fraud has an impact on the cost of insurance for genuine customers and the industry is committed to rooting out and bringing to justice those criminals who target insurers.’

An Axa spokesman said: ‘For areas where there is a high risk, we do refuse cover and we use historical claims information to help us determine these areas.

‘Our experience shows us that certain areas give rise to exceptionally poor claims, but these are not exclusively driven by fraud.

‘Axa employs a number of fraud prevention initiatives to ensure we are preventing certain individuals from getting cover rather than penalising large groups.’

See how your postcode affects your car and home insurance at

'My premium rose £300'

Stuart Lea saw his annual motor insurance premium with Direct Line jump from £800 to £1,100 when it came up for renewal this year.

Mr Lea, 33, from Birkenhead, near Liverpool, says he was baffled because he has an impeccable driving record and has built up 15 years of no claims.

‘Every year my premiums go up,’ he says. ‘It’s disgusting that honest drivers have to foot the bill for fraudsters.’

Mr Lea shopped around for a better deal using comparison website Moneysupermarket, securing an annual policy for £670 from Admiral.

Andy Goldby, from Direct Line, says: ‘We have witnessed an increase in both the number of claims and their severity in Mr Lea’s postcode, in particular relating to whiplash claims.’

Friday, 25 March 2011

Insurance Times - Independent broker blog: High time for a hike


Insurance Times - Independent broker blog: High time for a hike

Excellent article by one of our most esteemed brokers, Peter Smits MD of Ashbourne Insurance Brokers, who celebrated 30 years in business this week. CONGRATULATIONS GUYS!!


By Peter Smits

The government's investigation of the rising costs of motor insurance smacks of opportunism – it would be better off looking at the aggressive pricing of larger direct writers

So that’s it then. Underwriters can no longer use “gender” as a rating factor following an EU ruling. Where will it all end up?

Hot on the heels of the “gender” announcement, the UK government was quick to point out that insurance would remain exempt from age discrimination rulings. I wonder how long it will be before the EU decides to over-rule this too?

What next, a ban on postcode ratings? One standard vehicle rate? No discrimination against those with accidents claims or convictions? I suppose it would save insurers actuary costs – every cloud has a silver lining!

Remember the banking crisis?

This news has coincided with the current press frenzy concerning the rising costs of motor insurance, particularly for younger drivers, and the report published by the transport select committee on claims referral fees.

At the risk of sounding cynical, I would suggest to the government that it would be better placed to investigate insurance premiums at a time when they are too low rather than too high and that, while costs to insurers have undoubtedly increased due to the claim and compensation culture, a contributory factor is also getting the wrong risk at the wrong price!

I’m no financial whizz kid but even I know that you can’t carry on selling £1 for 80p forever without it effecting the bottom line.

Perhaps I just don’t understand the pricing model of these larger direct writers. They are currently very aggressive with their pricing and, as I said in this column a few months ago, the biggest threat to our motor book during 2011.

We’ve seen quotes form them that are 50% or even 75% cheaper than the market rate and offers of 25% “cash back”! Why isn’t the government investigating this? If memory serves, the results of the banks' efforts to “stack it high, sell it cheap” were none to clever either!

Not always price, price, price

I understand the need for additional revenue streams – insurance companies can no longer rely on investments propping up underwriting losses and brokers cannot live on the insurance commission alone. I don’t mind if we can't offer “cheap” insurance. I happen to think that we are worth that little bit extra, even if some clients do like to debate this very fact when phoning to discuss renewal terms at 10 o’clock on a Sunday evening!

Clearly we can't have one rate for motor insurance in the UK, but sensible pricing for all would go some way to reducing the hard-soft cycle that the actuaries tend to roll out annually at various insurance conferences.

A healthy insurance market needs multiple forms of distribution, and I believe that there is enough out there to “feed” everyone. Those that buy online are not interested in what the broker has to offer – it's price, price, price. However, there are those that want the reassurance of talking through their needs with a trained professional. What we must do is educate the insurance-buying public that not all insurance policies and associated services are the same.

Following the EU gender ruling, we were inundated with calls from both female policy-holders worried about price hikes and young male drivers, assuming a level playing field would entitle them to a discount. With the same amount of publicity, uninsured drivers and claim referral fees never even generate so much as a text!

Low motives

Let's face it, we all like the higher premiums and everyone connected with motor insurance has been saying that prices need to increase for as long as I can remember. Now that we’ve got movement in the right direction, albeit perhaps a little too high in some instances, the government sees an opportunity to win support among the masses and cries “foul”.

On the subject of misguided and mistimed intervention, while sitting at home on my sofa watching TV on a Sunday night debating the value of my service with my client over the phone, at least I feel secure that my FSCS fees are being put to good use when I see my screen fill with an advertisement encouraging consumers to claim compensation!

Peter Smits is managing director of Ashbourne Insurance.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


To see the Car Crime Hotspots report, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010


Nice 1 have launched a private discussion and business networking group FOR INSURANCE BROKERS on Linked In.

Welcome to Broker Link, a place where invited UK Insurance Brokers, Intermediaries and selected providers can share information, opportunities and news about insurance broking in general.

Over the coming weeks we will send out invitations to selected UK insurance brokers and providers to get the ball rolling. Thereafter, it is intended that the brokers and providers should drive the group, exchanging opportunities, contacts, product and industry news and shared success stories.

The success of the group is up to you. If you need information about new products, feel free to start a discussion. If there are operational issues you want to discuss, feel free to post them on here to check out what your colleagues in the industry know and have exeprienced. You never know, the answer to your question may be minutes away.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Broker Link - Nice 1 Ltd
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This site is all about the UK Insurance broker and the challenges, issues and opportunities faced by you and your business.

Over the coming months, the site will be updated with your suggestions. Whilst hosted by the team at Nice 1 Ltd, who promote Theft Protect replacement vehicle insurance, the content is driven by you, your interests and requirements.

Regular posts will be issued from the site, with a particular bias toward motor insurance. News items, discussion topics and a broker forum are planned, with select membership so that you may post your views and observations freely.

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From our travels around the country, meeting with brokers of all sizes and business profiles, we know there is plenty of worthwhile subjects to debate. Be as contraversial or innovative as you want. The tone is informal, so let's hear from you!

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