Car theft victims are getting a payout from insurers every eight minutes, according to new data.

Around £108 million - or £1.2 million a day - was paid out in claims in the first three months of the year, according to the Association of British Insurers.

This was up 22 per cent on the same period in 2018 and comes as campaigners and politicians call on car companies to improve security, especially for keyless cars.

There was also a big jump in payouts for car damage, with insurers blaming the expensive technology used in newer cars.

The Home Office recently revealed that vehicle thefts over the last five years have jumped 50 per cent, with keyless cars being targeted by tech-savvy criminals who can gain access in as little as 20 seconds.

In total, 16,000 claims were settled by insurers during the period, compared with 14,000 a year earlier, making it the highest quarterly figure in seven years.

Laurenz Gerger, ABI's motor insurance policy adviser, said: "The continued growth in car crime must be reversed.

"Car security has come on leaps and bounds but needs to keep pace with the ingenuity of car criminals."

The cost of repairs to both the vehicles of policyholders and third parties during the quarter was £1.2 billion.

This was the highest quarterly figure since the ABI started collecting such data in 2013.

The ABI put this down to higher costs for parts and technology.

For example, the cost of a headlight for one of the most popular cars - a Volkswagen Golf GTI - has jumped 400 per cent from £163 on older models to £840 on newer ones.

The cost of a Ford Focus windscreen has also risen from £147 between 2008-09 to £468 for post-2015 models.

Despite the cost pressures from increased theft and more expensive vehicle repairs, the average price paid for motor insurance is at a two-year low of £466.

The ABI said this is likely to be due to insurers passing on cost benefits from new legislation and new car purchases typically made by older, lower-risk drivers.

How to avoid keyless car thefts

There is growing concern about car thieves hacking keyless entry systems to steal vehicles parked on driveways.

About £108 million was paid out in claims to car theft victims in the first three months of this year, according to the Association of British Insurers, a rise of 22% on the same period in 2018.

A device can be used to relay the signal from the key to the car.

This tricks the car's system into believing the key is closer than it is, resulting in crooks being able to unlock the doors and start the engine before driving off.

Here are seven tips on how to avoid keyless car thefts at home:

1. Keep keys inside a closed drawer and away from windows and doors.

2. Buy or make a bag or container which acts as a Faraday cage. This will help block a key's signal from being transmitted to a relay device.

3. Check your vehicle manual in case it is possible to temporarily turn off the key's wireless signal.

4. Do not forget traditional measures such as a steering wheel lock or car alarm.

5. Make your driveway as secure as possible. Consider installing a bollard or lockable gates to prevent the car being driven off while you sleep.

6. Deter crooks by fitting CCTV cameras to the outside of your home. Keeping the inside of your car tidy and removing signs of expensive equipment such as mobile phone charges will also make your vehicle less of a target.

7. Add a tracking device to your car so it can be recovered in the event it is stolen.