Month: May 2016

The Rising Cost of Car Insurance

There has been a lot of coverage in the papers recently about the rising cost of car insurance – there’s even a protest planned about it in Dublin on the 2nd of July. Insurance companies have claimed that this is due to the rising cost of awards and legal fees given out in courts. This is disputed by the legal professions however.

Who to believe? And what can you do about your insurance? Well one thing is to shop around. Never go direct to an insurance company – always use a broker. But more than that, never just go to one broker, ring around a few. And I mean ring, it’s much easier to get a deal when you ring. Get a quote from the broker over the phone and then tell the broker what the quote was from the other (as long as it’s lower) and repeat until you’re sure it’s the lowest possible. Other than that there’s little you can do. Insurance companies all have different risk profiles that they price in but keep those profiles secret.

A more radical proposal would be to take the power out of their hands altogether. At the moment the law states that you must buy insurance from a private provider. This means that companies have a captive market. What if you didn’t have to do that? Why not follow a model like in New Zealand? There your third party insurance is part of your road tax. Better again, it is also priced into fuel so that the more you drive (or the bigger engine) the more insurance you pay for. Sounds fair!

You can still buy more comprehensive insurance but it’s a lot cheaper and it takes the power away from insurance companies who can no longer charge what they like. The only drawback is that the risk is not fully priced in for particularly bad drivers. That could be adjusted for; if your record is bad you may be charged more to tax your vehicle for example.

It’s something to think about – let us know if you dis/agree!

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The Curse of Keyless Entry

This recent video of a car being stolen from a the driveway of a house without the keys demonstrates a new and rising trend amongst car thieves.

For many years the improvement in car security features meant that car thieves had to break into your house to get the keys to start your car – now they need merely stand outside.

So how are they doing it? It’s a simple concept – many new cars come with keyless entry or ignition. You need only have the key on your person for you start or open the car. This convenient system is based on radio signals given out by the key and received by the car. If the signal is strong enough it must mean you’re nearby. Or are you? What the criminals here are doing is using a signal repeater to amplify the weak signal given out by the key so that the car thinks it’s much closer that it actually is. So although your car keys are on the hall table, the car thinks they’re right beside it.

The equipment needed to trick the car is relatively simple to buy or assemble so as criminals cotton on, this will be come more widespread. When it first started happening many people were disbelieved by their insurance company when their car was stolen and were never compensated. That’s still a risk today.

What do I need to know about it?

As a car owner you need to know that it may be possible with your car. Don’t worry though, it’s simple to prevent by keeping your car key in a metal container – like a biscuit tin – that prevents the signal from escaping.

If you’re buying a car you should know that this type of theft is possible. Although most of the cars stolen this way will be broken for parts it is always wise to check two things when it comes to keys:

  1. Is there two of them? – You don’t want the car stolen later that week by the ‘seller’ using the second one.
  2. Can you turn the ignition of the car off and back on again? If you can’t, walk away then and there.

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