Trades: Top tips for keeping your tools safe and your business running
For many tradespeople, their tools are essential for their job. Without their toolkit they can’t work and make a living.
In research conducted by the Federation of Master Builders, it was discovered that eight out of ten builders surveyed had been victims of tool theft, with some builders having lost in excess of £20,000 of tools in the past 10 years (1).
While according to a survey by Powertools2U, the average tool theft claim in the UK prior to the pandemic was estimated to be £1,692 per claim and that the volume of tool theft claims had increased by 15% (2).
1. Ensure you have adequate trades insurance protection in place
Whilst their may be temptation to save money and purchase the cheapest insurance policy, your tools are key to your livelihood and as such you should ensure they are covered to replace them as new should they be stolen.
Our Tradesman Insurance will provide cover for potential issues including property damage, accident and injury, and for the theft or damage of tools and trade materials.
- Retain all receipts for your tool purchases in case you must make a claim.
- Keep a log of all the tools you store in your van.
- If possible, note the serial number of each item.
These three tips will help you identify what has been taken if you become a victim of theft.
2. Prevention is better than a claim
Van stickers warn potential thieves that there are no tools left in this van overnight, yet tools are still left in vans overnight due to tiredness or lack of access to secure storage space elsewhere. Thieves are opportunists, and thefts can occur during the day with tools being taken during your lunch break.
Try and create a good habit of storing your tools in your home or work office overnight and locking your unused tools in a van vault during the day.
3. Secure your work van
Van security must be one of your priorities. Thieves are sophisticated and if they want to break into your vehicle they will do. From replicating your key fob, to door peeling (folding the top of the van door open), there are many ways a thief can enter your van, no matter how careful you are.
To ensure your van is safe consider fitting some of the following deterrents:
- An alarm
- An immobiliser
- Deadlocks for all the doors
- Slam locks
- A lockable toolbox or tool safe.
- A solid bulkhead or mesh grille between the cab and the load area.
It is also worthwhile remembering that a glazed rear door is also a security risk. Before purchasing a van, read the online reviews to discover which models are viewed as being the safest.
4. Make your tools more difficult to sell on
Personalisation can make your tools easily identifiable and harder for thieves to sell on. Marking your tools with permanent marker or paint, or adding a name stamp, or scratching your initials into them can help and costs little to apply.
Please note: Altering your tools with any form of personalisation could annul the warranty for them as you could be deemed to “have made significant alterations to the product” (3). Please check your warranty first before personalising your tools.
5. Register your tools online
Add a list of your tools on a national valuables and property register (such as thenmpr.com or immobilise.com) and marking your tools as registered is a good measure to take. This may not prevent theft but could help ensure your tools are found and returned.
6. Plan ahead
Plan ahead and only carry the tools you need for the job at hand. If you genuinely need all your tools, then make use of the secure site box that is typically located on-site.
7. Think carefully about where you park your van
Van theft can occur in any location, but parking in a well-lit area can make thieves think twice. If you park your van in your own driveway, think about installing CCTV and gates with locks. This will not stop a determined crook but will make them think twice.
8. Don’t let your guard down
Tools can be pinched at any time of the day, so it pays to be vigilant. Each time you leave your vehicle, make sure you lock the doors and shut all the windows and ensure your other security features are on. This will help prevent an opportunist taking advantage of a potentially easy theft.
What does tradesman insurance cover?
Tradesman insurance offers protection for tools and trade materials, public liability cover and employers’ liability insurance.
Cover for your tools and trade materials is available when public liability insurance is purchased. It offers five levels of cover for lost or damaged tools and trade materials for which you are responsible.
The public liability policy will cover anyone who must visit client’s premises or who receives visitors to their own premises from claims made against you from a client or member of the public if you damage their property or injure a member of your clients’ staff.
If you employ staff, the employers’ liability policy will provide cover for your businesses against its legal liability for loss, damage, injury, or disease caused to an employee as a result of their job.
1. Tool theft affects 8 in 10 builders | FMB, Federation of Master Builders
2. The £100m Robbery: Tool Theft In The UK | Powertools2u
3. What Will Void a Warranty? - FindLaw
Top tips for keeping your tools safe | Caunce O'Hara
Tool theft claims rise 54% in two years - Professional Builders Merchant
Builders' Merchants News - The £100 million robbery: Tool theft in the UK (buildersmerchantsnews.co.uk)
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