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Car security and insurance

Should my car have an immobiliser?

When it comes to car security, there are a number of ways you can protect your vehicle, deter thieves and even lower your insurance premiums. This guide looks at the steps you should take.

By Mehdi Punjwani

Published: 16 October 2020

locking a car

Having a robust security system for your car can offer several benefits – not only should it act as a deterrent to thieves and vandals, it may also help you cut the cost of your car insurance.

What car security do I need?

The prime objective is to protect your car from being stolen or broken into, so as well as making your vehicle more secure, you should also consider having a deterrent to criminals.

Making sure you have security systems that are not only effective, but recognised by your insurer is also paramount – so look for Thatcham-approved devices. If a device is approved by Thatcham you can be sure it meets the right standards for car security.

Having a security system in place can also help lower your car insurance premiums.

You should consider how expensive the security system is to install or maintain as this may outweigh the savings you make, but almost all new vehicles come with modern technology, such as high-tech immobilisers, already installed.

The final area to consider is developing good habits around car security, such as:

  • Parking in safe and well-lit areas
  • Remembering to lock the vehicle
  • Keeping valuable items out of plain view

Can having an immobiliser and car alarm reduce my car insurance?

Immobilisers, alarms and tracking devices all reduce the chances your car will be broken into or stolen, so you’ll often – but not always – be given a discount on your premiums.

However, there are some things to consider. Before buying a lock, alarm, immobiliser or tracker for your car, check that your insurer will recognise it as a valid security device.

You can balance the cost of buying and fitting extra security with the amount your premiums will reduce, but it’s not the only consideration.

Your improved security should also be more of a deterrent for criminals, which will lessen the chance of theft or damage. In turn, this will allow you to keep a clean insurance record, build your no claims bonus and further reduce premiums in the future.

What different types of car security are there?

  • Car immobilisers: An electronic device that prevents the car engine being started without the correct key or fob. It stops thieves hot-wiring the vehicle.
  • Car alarms: Most new vehicles come with one already installed. You can get them fitted on older vehicles, but even if you already have one in place, it may be worth looking to upgrade to help cut your insurance.
  • Steering wheel locks: Clearly visible to would-be thieves, they act as a deterrent and an extra layer of security. Gear stick and handbrake locks are also available.
  • Tracking devices: Allow the police to find your car if it’s stolen using GPS, with VHF systems even able to locate vehicles hidden underground. If you’ve a telematics insurance policy, it may also double as a tracking device.
  • Locking wheel nuts: Secure alloy wheels to prevent them being stolen.
  • Security markings: Having your car’s registration etched onto windows and windscreen make it easier to identify if stolen.

What are Thatcham device classifications and why do they matter?

Thatcham is the research centre of motor insurers and approve security devices used in the UK. It has seven different classes, with Class 1 being the most secure.

Class 1. Electronic alarm and immobiliser: The most complex and secure system available.

Class 2. Electronic immobiliser: Similar to Class 1, but without the alarm. The immobiliser must be able to disable two of the three systems – ignition, fuel system and starter motor – used to drive a car.

Class 2.1. Electronic alarm upgrade: Adding a Class 1 alarm to the immobiliser is as close as you’ll get to Class 1 without buying a new car.

Class 3. Mechanical immobiliser: Will disable only one of the three systems used to drive a car. For example, a steering wheel lock is a Class 3 device.

Class 4. Wheel locks: Often present on alloy wheels, they can only be removed using a special key.

Class 5. Post-theft tracking: A system that tracks your car’s position so the police can recover it. The car can also be immobilised remotely.

Class 6. Tracker: Same as Class 5, but without the ability to remotely immobilise the car.

Class 7. Tracker: A simpler version of a Class 6 tracker.

A Q class covers security upgrades that don’t fall into classes 1-7, including locks and alarms that aren’t approved by Thatcham.

How can I tell what security device my car has?

If your car was first sold in the UK after October 1998, it should have a factory-fitted immobiliser.

Check by looking at the handbook or if it’s a new purchase, ask the seller before you buy.

If you’re still unsure, a mechanic will be able to tell you whether the vehicle has an immobiliser, and if not, can help fit one.

How else can I lower my insurance quotes?

Improving your car’s security is just one way to help lower your premiums.

You could also look at:

  • Paying a higher excess: Although this can keep premiums down, you’ll have to pay more in the result of a clam
  • Building up your no-claims bonus: If you can show a good record as a driver, then insurers will reward you over time
  • Paying annually: Paying your insurance upfront and not spreading the cost via a direct debit is likely to be cheaper
  • Compare insurers for a better deal: You might be able to save hundreds of pounds by shopping around

Compare car insurance

Finding a cheaper quote for car insurance takes just minutes with MoneySuperMarket and will help you to find the cover you need at an affordable price.

Just tell us about yourself and the car you want to be insured on, and we’ll search the market for a list of quotes tailored to your needs.

You’ll be able to compare policies by the overall cost, the cover you’ll get and the excess you’ll need to pay to make a claim. Once you’ve found the deal you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.

As with any kind of insurance, keep in mind the cheapest option isn’t always the most suitable – we recommend balancing the cost with the cover you’ll get, so you know you have the protection you need at an affordable price.