Christmas present warning: tips to avoid a festive nightmare

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What to do

It’s always important to make sure your car is secured against theft - but at Christmas, with expensive gifts increasing opportunistic break-ins, it is even more vital.

Before we get to Christmas, though, let’s talk about car insurance and contents cover in general 👇

Car insurance and contents

Comprehensive car insurance policies sometimes cover you for damage to, or loss of, possessions inside your car - but there are some things to consider.

There is usually a limit on the value of these possessions, for example, so you might only be able to claim for some of your stolen items.

And some insurers might not pay out if they believe you weren’t careful enough. For example, if you left your car unlocked or parked in a risky location, like an unsecured car park after dark.

Always check your policy documents to see what's covered, as these things can change from insurer to insurer.

Christmas warning

During the Christmas season, it’s more important than ever to take care with valuables in your car. This is due to a few reasons.

Increased value of contents: The value of possessions inside your car is likely to rise significantly at Christmas, what with all the shopping and gift-giving. If these valuable items exceed the limits set by your policy, you may find yourself underinsured in the event of loss or damage.

Heightened risk of theft: The holiday season often sees an uptick in opportunistic thefts, as criminals are aware that vehicles may contain tempting gifts. Failing to take adequate precautions or leaving gifts visible in an unattended car can increase the risk of theft and impact your insurance claim.

Increased frequency of travel: Many people travel at Christmas, and cars may be left unattended for extended periods in unfamiliar locations.

Delayed reporting: With the hustle and bustle of Christmas, there's a risk of delayed reporting in the event of a theft or damage. It’s important to report any incident within 24 hours - or youe claim might not be successful.

The Christmas season can see a spike in car break-ins.
The Christmas season can see a spike in car break-ins.
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How to deter car thieves

Here are some simple ways to reduce the likelihood of your car being targeted this holiday season. Some are Christmas-specific tips, while others are general tips you should follow year-round.

Don’t leave presents in your car: Never leave presents or valuables unattended in your car. The allure of wrapped gifts (or of brand name shopping bags) can be tempting for thieves. Bring presents straight into your house when you get to your location. If you’re out and about and need to leave the car, make sure you put them into the boot or glove compartment where they are out of sight.

Visible deterrents: The more visibly anti-theft your car is, the less likely it is you’ll be targeted. Use steering wheel locks and security decals, and ensure your car alarm is functional.

Park smart: Park in well-lit areas if possible, especially at night, or choose car parks with surveillance cameras or attendants for added security. It can be frustrating when the only space you can find is down a dark, quiet side-street, but it’s just not worth the risk.

Reduce the risk: Consider home delivery options to reduce the time your car is parked in public spaces.

Best time to travel 🎅
We've found the best and worst times to travel this Christmas. Read more.

What to do if the worst happens

If the worst happens and a thief breaks into your car and makes off with your valuables, you need to act quickly. First, you should contact the police to report the theft. Provide them with detailed information about the incident, including the time and location, as well as a description of the stolen items. Take photos of your car and where it’s parked.

If you had any credit cards, ID, or sensitive information in the stolen items, contact the respective institutions to report the loss and take necessary precautions to protect yourself from potential identity theft.

And reach out to your insurer as soon as possible (and definitely within 24 hours). Tell them about the incident, providing all necessary details and documentation they may require for processing your claim. Be prepared to share information such as the police report, proof of ownership for the stolen items, and any other relevant documentation.

Lastly, inform your local community about the incident, especially if it occurred in a public area. Sharing details with neighbours and community groups may help in raising awareness and preventing similar incidents.

Updated on 30th November 2023