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Stopping tool theft in your business

As a tradie, the tools of your trade are essential. Without them, you can’t run a business, which is why it’s critical to have excellent security measures in place. Here is a checklist for theft prevention, which can also help keep the cost of your insurance premiums down, as well as make a successful claim in the event of an incident. Print it out and ask your team to do a quality check once a year.

1. Do you have the right locks in place?

Do you secure your toolbox with a lock and key? Ensure they're the type that bolt cutters and grinders won't open. Keep your toolbox locked as often as possible, whether it's in your garage or vehicle.

If you prefer keeping your tools in your vehicle, rather than moving them into your house or garage when not at work, consider engaging a truck outfitter to install a locking cabinet. It should have heavy-duty hinges and locks, to deter thieves who would need to make a lot of noise to access your tools.

Also check out hardened-steel security chains and high-quality padlocks. They're ideal for ladders and heavy-duty electric and petrol-powered equipment.

2. Are your tools engraved with your personal information?

You might be surprised how few tradies engrave their details onto their gear, be it glass, metal or plastic. Think about the kind of information that would help someone identify you in the instance that your stolen tools were recovered – in the very least, a name and phone number.

Avoid label writers to do this job, as they can be easily removed or obscured. Be sure to permanently engrave a unique marking prominently on your tools. Engraved tools often have a lower resale value, and they do decrease the risk theft.

Also be sure to log equipment serial numbers, and keep copies (and photos) of your receipts, owner manuals and original packaging materials (where possible) because insurers often want to see evidence of ownership. 

3. Identify your more expensive tools and tag them with GPS trackers

Use epoxy, screws, or rivets to attach GPS trackers or AirTags to your power tools. You'll be able to track them via a smartphone app and they take time to remove, so thieves tend to go for easier targets.

4. Do you have an alarm on your work vehicle?

Work trucks are more vulnerable to thefts from Friday night until Monday morning. An alarm system gives you two-way communication to show it's armed and you'll receive phone alerts when the doors open. Adding a sensing module means you'll know if someone's broken glass or attempting to jack up your vehicle.

5. Do you have the right insurance cover for your tools?

Your tools are your livelihood. So, when they go missing, your productivity is affected.

Your work tools will not be covered under a home contents policy – you will need to secure a separate business or tradie insurance policy, which includes options for tools and equipment cover.

Insurance can help cover the costs of tools and portable items that are lost, stolen or damaged. Your policy can be customised to your needs and even include stock. Usually, this type of cover includes your equipment up to five years old, mobile equipment and small tools.

A broker who specialises in insurance for tradies can also advise you on risk management, how to keep your premium costs down, and give you insights on which policy options – such as new-for-old replacement – could best work for you.

It’s also important to ask your broker about the circumstances in which you will be covered. Typically, a policy covering tools and portable equipment will help protect you from loss or damage due to:

  • Fire, storm, explosion, water, malicious damage or impact
  • Theft after a forced entry into your locked vehicle/building
  • Theft of equipment that had been securely attached by locks or padlocks to a vehicle.

Understandably, there are some situations in which your tools and portable equipment insurance won’t cover you. Make sure you ask your broker about exclusions to any of your policies, but some general circumstances include:

  • Employee theft
  • Faulty materials/workmanship
  • Unexplained inventory shortage
  • Theft from your unsecured vehicle
  • Wear and tear, gradually developing conditions, gradual cracking or scratching, even rust, oxidation, mould, insects, vermin, dry rot, mildew, contamination or pollution
  • Processes of drying, heating, dyeing, cleaning or alteration to an insured item.
For additional cost savings

Tools and equipment cover will help protect your gear if you’re a contractor or tradie.

If you’re not sure whether your toolbox is fully protected, it might be time to talk to a broker who has trades expertise – they can review your insurance at no extra cost to you, and provide recommendations on better cover options and prices.

Need help?

If you have any questions about the content covered in this article or the risks and insurance coverage requirements for your business, reach out to your Marsh risk advisor today or contact us.

This publication is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable, but we make no representation or warranty as to its accuracy. Marsh shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting, or legal matters are based solely on our experience as insurance brokers and risk consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax, or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors.

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Marsh Ltd (NZBN 9429040918792)(“Marsh”) arranges insurance and is not an insurer. This webpage contains general information, does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs and may not suit your personal circumstances. For full details of the terms, conditions and limitations of the covers and before making any decision about whether to acquire the product, refer to the specific policy wordings and/or product disclosure statements available from Marsh on request.