Thatcham to include keyless entry vulnerability as part of NVSA rating from 2019

Premiums on insuring keyless-entry cars look set to be driven up as their vulnerability to theft will soon be included in a vehicle’s New Vehicle Security Assessments (NVSA) risk rating.

Thatcham Research Centre, the motor safety and security body funded by the insurance industry, provides data for insurers to determine premiums for different models of cars. It currently only provides information on whether a vehicle has keyless entry fitted, but by 2019 an update will be introduced that will also factor keyless entry into the NVSA.

Car theft has risen by a third in three years from 65,783 in 2013 to 85,688 in 2016, with police particularly identifying a rise in incidents of keyless car thefts. Cleveland Police earlier this month reported that 90 keyless vehicles had been stolen from the area since December using a device that bypasses security systems available to buy online for £260.

Thatcham estimate around 1% of cars currently have keyless entry systems, and CTO Richard Billyeald says a lack of data means one must be cautious attributing too much blame on keyless technology for the rising number of car thefts. Nevertheless, he says it most likely has played some small part in the rise.

He said: “In terms of the difference in risk of cars with and without the keyless entry technology there is a specific vulnerability in the keyless entry systems on the majority that are out there at the moment which does make them a bigger risk to theft.

“In the future our update is going to capture this risk, but at the moment it doesn’t. What that doesn’t mean is that it hasn’t affected how an insurer assesses the risk of a vehicle because the group rating is effectively a comparison at a vehicle level. There’s far more factors involved than that in setting insurance premiums, and all the individual insurers approach that in their own way that works for them.”

The new criteria to be included in the 2019 update will be designed to shut down the keyless entry vulnerability, while anticipating other potential methods of digital and cyber-compromise.

Billyeald said the date would give manufacturers time to introduce fresh measures to combat the digital advancements in thefts. He added: “Carmakers are already introducing keys with motion sensors which deactivate when stored, and new secure signal transmission technologies. In the short term, while these counter-measures come into the market, concerned drivers should contact their dealer to discuss the digital functionality of their cars.”

Allianz head of motor insurance Jonathan Dye said the insurer had seen over a 20% increase in the frequency of theft claims as criminals use sophisticated methods to bypass vehicle security systems.

And John Berry Director of underwriting personal lines with Allianz added: “As part of our assessment of theft risk we use data provided by Thatcham which provides an assessment of the overall security of the vehicle, and the effectiveness of the key is a component part of this. This information is then used within our pricing. The information provided by Thatcham will be standard across the industry, however how that data is ultimately used will vary from insurer to insurer. Some insurers may have also observed spikes in theft claims for particular vehicle models and taken reactive action as a result of this.”