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UK insurance premiums rise following rash of thefts but issue has yet to migrate to Ireland

Rash of vehicle thefts in the UK has sent Range Rover insurance premiums spiralling

It may be with a touch of schadenfreude that many of us will take the news in the UK that owners of Range Rovers are having to pay higher insurance premiums. After all, one might think, if you can afford such a large, luxurious car then not only might you well enough expect to pay a higher premium, you can probably afford to do so, too.

However, in the UK, the Range Rover, and its various models and versions – Sport, Velar, Evoque – have become such a target for car thieves that the situation has become untenable. With many Range Rover owners, especially those in London, reporting renewal premiums of £25,000 (€29,000) or even more (yes, that’s for one year’s insurance cover) Land Rover itself was forced to step in.

According to the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) the Range Rover was the second-most stolen car last year, just behind the ever-popular Ford Fiesta. While many of those cars will have been stolen to order, and shipped whole to Africa, eastern Europe or beyond, many more will have been stolen and stripped for parts.

The Range Rover brand appears to be especially affected, in part because its cars are considered so desirable anyway, but also because holdups in the production chain have seen Land Rover landed with a 150,000-order backlog, many of which are for Range Rovers. That skewing of the supply-demand balance, along with a shortage of spare parts for repair, has seen a dramatic growth in the theft of these cars.


The thefts have seen Land Rover set up its own insurance arm, offering cover to those quoted outrageous figures for a premium or even refused a quote entirely.

A Land Rover UK spokesperson said: “Customers of luxury cars and other luxury items are experiencing an increase in thefts due to organised criminal activity in the UK. The desirability of our luxury vehicles, coupled with concerns around thefts, has recently led to challenges in obtaining insurance cover for some clients.

“We are fully committed to doing everything we can to address this by adopting a multifaceted approach: from our significant investment in vehicle security to now providing our own insurance. While our new insurance proposition is a key milestone, we want to reassure clients that we will continue monitoring and refining our service so that even more clients can take advantage of it.”

The company says its new insurance cover has provided quotes to more than 4,000 clients since October, with an average monthly premium of less than £200.

Range Rovers are, of course, not the only targets in this widespread series of vehicle thefts. The rate of theft for Hyundai models, for example, has also spiked dramatically in the past year, while Lexus NX and RX models are popular targets for crooks.

Has the problem migrated to Ireland? No, at least not yet. Melanie McCourt, marketing manager for Land Rover Ireland, said there had been no reports of a dramatic increase in Range Rover thefts here. “We are not aware of any of our customers having problems insuring their vehicles here in Ireland. As with any high-value vehicle, some insurers require a third-party tracking device to be fitted to the car. We do not offer manufacturer insurance in our market.”

Part of the problem is technology. Many, perhaps by now all of the high-end vehicles being targeted by thieves use keyless entry technology

Equally a quick trawl of Irish insurers shows there have been no massive increases in cover for Range Rovers here. We took a notional two-year old Range Rover P440e PHEV model and received quotes for a (fictional) 50-year-old solicitor living in north Co Dublin, which seemed like a plausible Range Rover customer. The quotes, for fully-comprehensive cover, worked out at between €800 and €900 depending on the insurer. Expensive, to be certain, but hardly out of line with other makes and models.

Would there be any issue, we wondered, for Range Rover owners from Ireland wanting to drive their cars to the UK for a holiday or a business trip, we wondered? Again, apparently not. Driving into the lion’s den seems to be fine as far as Irish insurers are concerned. “No issues have been brought to our attention regarding Irish owners driving their cars in the UK,” said McCourt.

Nonetheless, there has been a rise in vehicle-related crime in the past two years in Ireland. While the final figures for 2023 are not yet available, An Garda Síochána has warned: “Theft of vehicles has increased significantly during 2022, with over 4,000 vehicles stolen, and it would seem 2023 would be continuing this trend to date. Theft of vehicles reported in 2022 show that 38 per cent of incidents occurred at residential locations.”

Part of the problem is technology. Many, perhaps by now all of the high-end vehicles being targeted by thieves use keyless entry technology, in which the car’s key sends a short-ranged radio signal to the car, triggering the door locks as you approach. It’s a convenient item, but it can be turned against you. Using equipment freely available online, crooks can amplify a key’s signal so that it can reach from inside your house to the car outside, fooling and bypassing the vehicle’s security systems.

There are ways to counteract this – keeping your keys in a Faraday cage, in the form of a box or a pouch covered with a network of fine wires which block the signal, can help, but since such devices have become popular, the more determined crooks have apparently started to cut into the car’s body panels to access and ‘hot-wire’ the car’s electronics directly. The signals from tracking devices can also be jammed and disrupted.

Again, this can be protected against with technological updates.

According to Land Rover: “As part of a suite of services to enhance the ownership experience for its clients, JLR announced last month its Stg£10 million investment in vehicle security to help tackle keyless thefts. This included an extensive roll-out of security updates benefiting more than 70,000 older vehicles in the UK since the initiative began in 2022, ensuring the same levels of protection against theft as current, new models.

“This, along with dedicated collaboration with police and partners, is reducing thefts. The latest vehicles are proving highly resilient to thefts: UK police data shows that since January 2022, only nine of the 12,200 new Range Rovers on the road have been stolen – 0.07 per cent – while only 13 of the 13,400 new Range Rover Sports on the road have been affected – 0.1 per cent.”

These updates are all well and good, but as most military historians will tell you, in the battle between armour and warhead, the warhead usually eventually finds a way through. As is so often the case, then, the best defences are often the most simple. According to the Garda: “A low-tech security device like a steering wheel lock, gates and a security barrier are very good deterrents to would-be car thieves. Always stick to the basics of car security first. Ensure your vehicle is parked in a well-lit or secure area, properly locked and all valuables are removed. Once in your home or office, ensure your car keys are as far away from doors and windows as possible, preferably shut inside a drawer.”

Still viewing all this with schadenfreude? Don’t – while it might be tempting to sneer at those who can best afford it being penalised with higher insurance costs, those higher costs won’t be solely targeted at one group. Rising vehicle crime will eventually affect us all, whether directly or through an across-the-board increase in insurance costs.

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Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring