New research from insurer Ageas shows that half of Brits prefer to use their garage for its intended purpose, as car theft continues to rise nationwide
Half of British households keep their car in the garage overnight, despite the twenty-first century trend of garages being repurposed as storage, hobby, living or work spaces. This is according to a survey[i] commissioned by Ageas, one of the country’s largest[ii] motor insurance providers.
With a quarter of respondents also stating that garage size is a make-or-break factor when buying a house, the research appears to dispel the myth that traditional garage usage is dead.
One possible reason that more people are choosing to put their cars in garages than previous studies have indicated is the marked rise in car theft nationwide since 2014. Ageas’ own data show a 28% increase in the number of car theft insurance claims between 2015 and 2018, and new ONS figures released this week highlighted a rise of 10% in theft of vehicles in the last year[iii] .
Cars or cinemas?
Four fifths of those not keeping their car in the garage leave it on the driveway overnight. One in ten respondents noted that their car is simply too big to fit in to the garage.
One in twenty has turned their garage into a dedicated hobby space or workshop, and just 3% have embarked on fully-fledged conversions to a gym, office, extra living accommodation or home cinema.
A further 10% said they have repurposing plans in place.
Robin Challand, Claims Director at Ageas UK says: “It seems that the demise of the garage has been overstated. We know from our claims data that very few cars are stolen from locked garages and so it’s certainly one of the best ways of protecting your vehicle from thieves. Half of the British households we surveyed now seem to be taking full advantage of this by parking their car in their garage overnight, acknowledging that it’s the most secure option particularly when car theft is rising across Britain.“
Richard Billyeald, Chief Technical Officer at Thatcham Research comments: “Out of sight is often out of mind for car thieves. So, if you’ve got a garage, using it and making sure it’s securely locked will help reduce the risk of your vehicle being stolen.
“Whether you have a garage or not, don’t leave anything valuable on show in your car. Check that your vehicle is locked before leaving it by listening for the locking noise, watch for the lights to flash or mirrors to fold, or simply pull the door handle. Make sure that your alarm or immobiliser is enabled when you leave your car, and if your car doesn't have one, think about buying an approved aftermarket alarm, steering wheel lock or other locking device. These are proven to deter thieves.
“Then once inside your house, always store your keys away from household entry points, and report any unusual activity to the police.”
Other interesting findings from Ageas’ research:
- 10% of respondents said they have 3 or more cars in their household
- More men keep their car in the garage than women (54% compared to 46%)
- Three quarters of the 55+ age group keep their car in the garage every day, compared to the all-respondent average of 57%.
- London has the highest proportion of households who keep their car in the garage (62%). But of these, 17.5% have plans to change this, and the majority of their plans involve creating business workspace.
 An RAC study from 2014 found that 62% of people no longer store their car in the garage.
[i] OnePoll was commissioned to carry out a study among 1000 UK residents who have access to a car and a garage. The fieldwork was carried out in November 2018.
[ii] Ageas was ranked as the fourth largest Domestic Motor insurer in the ABI’s General Insurance Company Rankings by Gross Written Premium published in September 2018.
[iii] Office for National Statistics Police recorded crime by offence, year ending March 2003 to year ending September 2018 and percentage change between year ending September 2017 and year ending September 2018. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingseptember2018#toc