With the worrying statistics that a van is broken into and the tools stolen every 23 minutes in the UK, it’s no wonder that tradesmen are concerned. Having commercial vehicle insurance or fleet insurance will help to cover the costs but what do you do if this happens to you?
Despite thieves getting more sophisticated, there are precautions that can help prevent them getting away with your livelihood. For some helpful advice, read our blog on Keeping Your Tools Safe: Top Van Security Tips.
If the worst does happen and your tools are taken, here is what you can do to help recover them or make a claim if they are still missing.
Save Records and Receipts of all Equipment
Take photographs, keep receipts and a list of the make and model as well as serial numbers of all your tools. Having this to hand will not only be necessary in the event of a claim, it will help them to be identified by the police if found. You could also investigate registering with sites such as Immobiliser.
If you have a van or building that has been broken into and damaged, photographic evidence can also be beneficial when reporting it to the police.
Report it to the Police
If you’re claiming for a stolen van or tools, or property that has been vandalised, you should report this to the police immediately. Many insurance policies will have a time limit for you to report an incident, so do this by phoning 101 or visiting a police station. If you later see your tools for sale online or locally, you will have evidence to back up your claim.
The police will issue a crime reference number (CRN), which can also be given to your insurance company as proof of the offence.
Keep a Look Out
Thieves will want to sell on their goods as soon as possible and often locally. Keep an eye on sites such as Gumtree and Ebay. You could even set up alerts by using your equipment serial numbers for items that are local or collect only.
If you haven’t done so already, join trade groups and share information about any suspiciously low-priced tools you see online. Alert others to what tools you are looking for in case they come across them.
Know Your Excess
Before lodging a claim with your insurance company, read through your policy to make sure you are covered and check your tools excess. As an excess can range from £100 to £500, this can save you time if the claim amount will be less than your excess amount.
Claim on Your Insurance
Once you have reported the crime to the police, the next step is to contact your insurance company.
Use this checklist to ensure the claim is as painless as possible.
1. Have all your documentation to hand including your policy document, itemised list/receipts for anything stolen or damaged and CRN number from your police report.
2. Be ready with times and dates of the offence, what you’re claiming for and how much money you expect to get.
3. Answering truthfully will help to speed up your claim. Don’t exaggerate or be tempted to ask for more than was stolen as this could invalidate your claim.
4. If you purchased your insurance through a broker, call them first as they may be able to help work with the insurance company to speed up your claim.
5. Write down all the details when carrying out a claim. Note the date and time when you call the insurance company, who you spoke with and what they told you. Keep any documents or letters that are sent to you and copies of anything that you send.
Ensuring you are Covered
When taking out an insurance policy as part of your commercial vehicle or fleet insurance, read through the terms and conditions thoroughly. Many policies will not cover your tools if left in the van overnight, they will expect you to have locked windows and doors and have a working alarm as minimum. Cover is unlikely to apply if the tools are stolen from a work site unless it is proven to be a secure, locked storage facility.