When your car is broken into, it can cause you frustration and a lot of hassle. Even if your car is securely locked, thieves sometimes opt to break windows if they can see something of value inside the car, or if they suspect something could be in there that is worth taking.
The good news is that vehicle crime has reduced significantly in recent times. In 1995, 20 out of every 100 households were affected in this manner. Fast-forward to 2011-12 and that figure had reduced significantly to just five in every 100 households. With that said, when your car is broken into, it can be upsetting and annoying, as well as leaving you with a possible claim to think about.
Things to consider when your car is broken into
Firstly, it is best to call the police to report the crime. Don’t touch anything until you are told it is fine to do so, in case the police wish to attend the scene to look for evidence of who may have performed the crime. It may be your vehicle was the latest in a series of similar crimes in the area, in which case every scrap of evidence the police can glean from it could help them catch the thieves.
The number to ring in this instance is 101. You could also walk to the nearest police station and report it there. Always remember that 999 should only be dialled in an emergency. Never use this number if your car is broken into, unless you arrive back at your car and see someone breaking in.
Conversely, if your car sustains damage because you were involved in a car accident, you could make a claim against the other party if they caused the impact and you were injured. Most times, the other party will stop so you can exchange details following a collision. Don’t worry if they do not admit liability – many people won’t because they are unsure of the situation they are in, or what they should and should not say. However, make sure you get their details.
It is rare for someone to cause an accident and to flee the scene, but if this should happen, try and get the number plate of the car or other vehicle they are in. You should then call the police to report the accident, and confirm the other driver fled the scene. Give them as much information as they can to enable them to try and track down the driver. It is an offence to leave the scene of an accident involving one or more other people without exchanging information, just as breaking into a car is an offence.
Making a claim for compensation if your car is broken into
The Office for National Statistics revealed there were around 358,000 reported thefts from vehicles and of the vehicles themselves in 2014 alone. These are only reported instances – there could well be occasions where the car owner decides not to bother reporting the theft.
In this instance, you’d normally claim back the cost of anything that was taken via your car insurance policy. Do read the details though – the no-claims bonus you probably have in your policy may be lost if you made a claim. You must consider whether the value of the items taken would be far greater than the possible loss of the no-claims bonus on future years of car insurance.
In some cases, people have policies that have protected their no-claims bonus, so this may not be a problem in this instance. Check your own policy before you decide what to do, and remember you must consider the cost of any repairs as well.
How to prevent your own car from being targeted
You can never completely remove the risk of your car being chosen, but there are many things you can do to make your car less attractive to thieves. The police say it could take under 10 seconds for someone to break into your car and steal something. So, by removing everything of value so there is nothing there to be seen, you can reduce the odds of coming back from a trip or day out to find your car is broken into and you’ve lost some possessions.
Could you claim personal injury compensation if your car is broken into?
No – this type of claim is made when an accident is caused by a third party that leads you to suffer one or more injuries of any kind. Accidents like this do occur, of course; in fact, 22,137 people were badly hurt in road accidents in 2015, while the number of people suffering any type of injury amounted to 186,209 that same year.
Taking care of your car doesn’t just mean making it less attractive to potential car thieves. It also means making sure its MOT is performed on time every year, and that regular checks are made to ensure it is safe to drive. Government statistics have revealed 6% of all accidents on the motorway that involve one or more fatalities are caused by vehicle tyres being under-inflated.
Find out where you stand and whether a claim is possible today
When your car is broken into, you could claim on your car insurance to seek compensation for the lost items, per the terms of your policy. As we’ve seen, though, you may be able to seek personal injury compensation if you are involved in a road accident in your car, and someone else was the cause of what happened.
If this has happened to you and it is still within the three-year time limit for making a claim, you can ring Accident Advice Helpline or take our online test to determine whether you have a chance to claim some compensation. When you call 0800 689 0500, or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile, you can speak with someone who has handled similar claims before.