At Lockton, we understand the passion for cars. We know that people work hard to be able to buy their dream car and they use Lockton to provide the best protection should the unthinkable happen.

Our policy is designed to provide the best possible cover for your pride and joy and we've outlined the various benefits in some detail in other articles.

However, we also believe that it's equally as important to try and prevent a loss from occurring – whilst the policy will respond, your car might be off the road being repaired for some time and, in the case of theft, you could have to wait for a replacement model to be available,. Indeed, if your car was new and built to a particular specification, then that wait might extend to several months for a replacement to be built.

We thought it was a great idea to give you some tips and hints to help you protect your cars even more.

Theft

Let's begin with the car itself. Almost all modern cars are fitted with an alarm and immobiliser, usually coded to your key or fob. In many cases, auto locking is also a function, so when you exit the vehicle, it locks automatically, setting any security system at the same time.

The keys work by bouncing a signal between them and the car and thieves can intercept and replicate this by using software to trick the vehicle into “thinking” that it's being unlocked legitimately using the keys.

So what can be done to try to prevent this?

Firstly, keeping the keys in a Faraday pouch is sensible and something we recommend. This will block their signal and prevent it being captured by a would-be thief.

Secondly, keeping the keys in a safe place. If you have several vehicles, all with spare keys, then a purpose built key safe is a good idea. This should be mounted somewhere hidden and bolted solidly to a timber or concrete joist.

There are countless tracking systems available and an increasing number of cars now include the capability to track your vehicle from your smartphone. Insurers generally only recognise systems which are Thatcham Approved.

Moving to your garage next, it's good practice to look at this as a bubble and focus on protecting the access points for both vehicles and people. Slowing down intruders and removing the conditions which are ideal for theft are good practices.

In terms of physical security, you can look at how your garage is secured. The main door(s) should be fitted with a good quality lock and this can be enhanced by using a hasp & staple securing the door externally to the frame or internally to frame or garage floor. A closed shackle padlock approved to BS standard will complete the picture.

If you have an electric roller shutter type door, then a cut-off switch isolating the door is a good start and adding bullet locks through the door and into the metal frame will strengthen the door further.

Personal doors can be fitted with added locks and steel plating if they're wooden and glass fitted with anti-shatter film.

Windows can be fitted with grills or bars internally; these should be secured to the masonry and not the frame.

If you have a burglar alarm fitted to your house, then consider extending this to the garage.

Intruders like darkness so consider installing exterior lighting. This is also a good measure to aid safety when returning to your home in darkness.

Fire

The most likely cause of a fire within a domestic garage is a vehicle fault so here are some tips to help reduce this risk.

  • Ensure that your battery is in good working order and consider isolating or disconnecting it when the vehicle is left unused for extended periods.
  • Use a good quality trickle charger with a thermal cut-off switch. The best chargers automatically shut down when the battery reaches full charge or when they detect a heat increase.
  • Always maintain at least a quarter of a tank of fuel in the vehicle – empty tanks will be filled with petrol vapour which is considerably more flammable than fuel.

In terms of the garage, you should also consider other potential sources of ignition so if you store any flammable or combustible items (paint, thinners, white spirit, even spare petrol for vehicles, mowers etc.) then keep them in a closed metal cabinet.

Remember too that some cleaning products contain flammable substances so similar precautions should be taken.

If you have a waste bin, then think about replacing it with a metal bin with a lid and regularly empty it.

As for the garage building, faulty wiring is a factor in many fires. Unlike a commercial building, there are no regulations as regards mandatory and periodic testing of fixed wiring (although there are of course rules in place regarding the replacement and maintenance of electrics). It is good practice to have wiring checked by a qualified electrician to ensure that it remains safe – as much for your personal safety as to protect your car.

Fire extinguishers. Should you try and fight a fire yourself? Should you install them? What type do you need?

Firstly, we'd always strongly recommend that you do not attempt to fight a fire yourself. Ensure that you and your family are safe first, then dial 999 and await assistance. Do not endanger yourself under any circumstances – if the fire has taken hold, your priority is your own safety and Lockton will be there to make sure that your claim is handled swiftly and efficiently.

Beyond this, they're certainly an excellent idea. You should familiarize yourself with how to operate them.

They should be mounted using the correct brackets and adjacent to doors. This will remove the temptation to go any further into the garage than necessary should there be a fire.

As for type, consider that a water filled unit will be of almost no use for a vehicle fire. Powder, foam or CO2 are the suggested type. Speak to a supplier and seek their guidance.

We hope that these tips will help you safeguard your cars. If you need any further advice then please talk to us today and we'll be happy to assist.