Drop in motor and household thefts cuts claims cost

Insurers are enjoying a golden period of falling claims costs in both the motor and household markets, according to the ABI and Norwich Union (NU).

Figures released by the ABI show an annual fall of 14% in property claims for the last quarter of 2003, while NU recorded a 22% drop in motor thefts over the past three years.

The ABI's figures show that gross incurred claims for theft (property) dropped from £728m in 2002 to £630m in 2003, while weather-related claims dropped from £236m to £92m over the same period.

The only significant hike was in subsidence claims, which rose £200m over the year to £390m.

A healthy economy and benign weather conditions were given as the reasons for the drop in household theft and weather related claims.

ABI statistical analyst Gurpreet Ghatura said: "Unemployment and domestic property crime have been found to be highly related. For instance, as unemployment falls, theft claims also fall."

But the ABI found fire claims increased slightly in the last quarter of 2003, up from £276m to £310m, though the total for the year showed a slight fall.

NU reported just one fire claim per 300 policies on its domestic book, crediting the increased use of smoke detectors as a reason the figure continued to remain so low.

NU's crash index on its motor book showed little change over the year with around one claim per eight policies, but the insurer warned of overconfidence among drivers.

Its report states that 93% of UK drivers claim to be very confident behind the wheel. It said: "Just 2% of male drivers admit to occasional nerves when driving.

"But according to collision data, drivers are over-estimating their ability and safety on the road as 73% of motorist have been involved in an accident and the average motorist has had two collisions."