On average, there are over 90,000 thefts from vehicles in the UK each year. These types of numbers do present some very real issues for some of our clients, mainly those transporting equipment for work purposes.
There’s still a very clear level of uncertainty when it comes to whether items left in your motor vehicle are covered by insurance. So, we thought we’d break down the reality of covering equipment here, and explain once and for all how to minimise the risk of being unprotected.
Please note, however, that this blog doesn’t tackle equipment on trains, boats and aircraft. These vehicles will often have different cover applicable.
What equipment can be insured?
Items such as laptops, cameras and lighting equipment are highly attractive to thieves. The same goes for videography products, toolkits, and just about anything else that can be sold quickly at a high price.
All of these things can be insured, and most businesses or freelancers will have them insured on a portable property basis. This means they’ll be insured anywhere in the UK, EU or world, whether these items are in use, being stored or being transported around in a vehicle.
However, most policies are subject to a care/custody condition. This means that the equipment cannot be left anywhere unsecure or in public, like leaving a laptop on a café table while you visit the bathroom for example.
What does this mean for leaving items in a car?
Naturally, this makes leaving items in your car or work van somewhat of a grey area.
Say you’re a camera operator, travelling to a new shoot, with your equipment stored and locked away in the boot of your car. You arrive on set and venture inside to meet the crew, leaving your car unattended. You return an hour later to find that your car has been broken into, the boot forcibly opened, and your camera equipment stolen.
This obviously causes serious business disruption. If the equivalent were to happen to you, would you still be able to complete the job? Could you replace the items fast enough to meet your deadlines, as the camera operator would need to in order to adhere to the timescales of the shoot?
When would equipment be insured?
Some policies will include cover for equipment left in your unattended vehicle, but this does vary. There are subjectivities, and it’s very important that you check your policy wording with your insurer, or broker, around this.
The vast majority of policies will cover you for replacement costs. Some of the better ones will even pay for additional costs, like fees for hiring substitute items until your equipment is replaced or repaired.
Generally though, policies will not cover equipment in unattended vehicles if the items are in plain sight. Some policies will go further and only insure equipment left in unattended vehicles during certain hours, specifically removing cover for property left overnight.
For this reason, it’s important to understand that, with most policies, your equipment will only be insured when left in your vehicle if it has been placed within a locked storage compartment or the boot.
Will my equipment not be insured under my motor policy?
Comprehensive motor policies do often include some protection for personal effects. And depending on the breadth of cover, this could include theft from an unattended vehicle.
The key issue here is that this extension isn’t intended to cover expensive equipment in that way, so the limit for this cover is normally very low – typically a few hundred pounds. Of course, this probably wouldn’t scratch the surface in terms of the electrical equipment a freelancer or business might use.
So, while technically there could be cover for your equipment within your motor policy, the reality is that it might not be much use in the event of theft. Plus, it’s only the comprehensive policies that really offer anything in the way of legitimate support.
What other risks are there?
It’s been a pretty noteworthy issue that car thieves are getting smarter. One emerging threat is the use of cloned key fobs in order to access victims’ vehicles.
Cloned key fobs are a difficult situation for both the insurer and the insured, as proof of how the equipment was stolen becomes almost impossible. Unless there’s CCTV evidence, there’s usually no way of telling if the vehicle has just been accidentally left unlocked by the owner or whether thieves have genuinely cloned a fob and used that to access it.
Getting your insurance to pay out for these circumstances is really difficult, and some insurers will reject such claims by default, leaving you with a fight on your hands. As always, we’d suggest checking with your broker or insurer if you’re covered in this instance. After all, there will be some providers who have certain clauses that could mean the difference between seeing your claim being paid or not.
Get clarity when it comes to car theft
Losing your electrical equipment could mean losing your livelihood. That’s why it pays to know exactly what your policy covers when it comes to theft.
At RiskBox, we can help you choose an insurer that’s much better suited to your evolving needs, as well as ensure they’ll protect you should the worst happen.
For more information, call us on 0161 533 0411 or fill in our contact form and we’ll be in touch.