Car owners in South Africa need to get trackers installed – or risk losing their insurance

 ·15 Mar 2023

Old Mutual Insure says that drivers of high-risk vehicles in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and smaller inland provinces need to install vehicle tracking devices or risk losing their insurance coverage.

This follows a rise in the number of insurance claims for certain vehicle types due to theft and hijacking.

The group and its subsidiaries issued a warning specifically to owners of newer and late-model high-end vehicles – especially bakkies and luxury vehicles – as these vehicles are being increasingly targeted in South Africa, it said.

The insurer reported increased claims for these vehicles, with criminals seemingly even being able to bypass keyless entry systems.

“From our investigations, it appears that syndicates have found ways to seamlessly access vehicles with keyless entry systems. The theft rate is particularly high in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and some of our smaller inland provinces,” the group said.

In an effort to curb the increased risk, Old Mutual Insure and Elite Risk Acceptances now require the fitment of approved early warning/active tracking devices on higher-risk vehicles covered under Commercial Lines, Agri and Personal Lines policies.

Vehicle owners are urged to ensure the fitment of good-quality tracking devices before 15 April 2023.

The provinces that are affected:

  • Gauteng
  • KwaZulu Natal
  • Limpopo
  • Free State
  • Mpumalanga
  • North-West

This does not apply to vehicles in the:

  • Western Cape
  • Eastern Cape
  • Northern Cape
  • Botswana
  • Namibia

“Although it seems like traditional tracking devices are becoming less effective, they still assist in mitigating the risk as they do provide an advantage in the early stages of theft and hijacking,” the group said.

The companies warned that if policyholders do not comply, they will no longer be insured against theft and hijacking.

“We are living in unprecedented times where vehicle syndicates have learnt how to use sophisticated means of technology to access a vehicle. We remain committed to the safety and security of our customers. It would be amiss of us not to take drastic action in this climate,” it said.

Old Mutual Insure and Elite Risk will discount vehicle premiums, if not already discounted, due to the reduced risk, it said.

Tarina Vlok, MD of Elite Risk, a high-net-worth insurer and subsidiary of Old Mutual Insure, said the company is trying to make the process as easy and seamless as possible for policyholders.

“We have partnered with several tracking companies to help clients with high-risk vehicles access tracking and stolen vehicle recovery service,” she said.

However, she noted that it remains the customer’s decision as to which tracking device they wish to fit from an approved list by the insurer.

“We further encourage all policyholders to have a tracking device fitted, regardless of the type of vehicle. It is also imperative that customers regularly check and ensure that their tracking devices are in working order.”

Vlok said that it is also the vehicle owner’s responsibility, amidst this climate, to ensure they are proactive in mitigating the increased risk of theft and hijacking.

The group said that vehicle owners can take to secure their vehicles against theft:

  • Park your vehicle in well-lit, busy areas. Avoid leaving your car in isolated areas or places with poor visibility.
  • Install an alarm system or immobilizer, which can deter thieves and prevent them from starting the engine.
  • Use a steering wheel lock, which can make it more difficult for thieves to drive away with your vehicle.
  • Consider using a faraday bag for relay/hacking attacks as this blocks the key signal that certain syndicates use to jam vehicle remotes.
  • Fit more than one tracking device into the vehicle to make it more difficult to steal and easier to recover.

Read: Shocking number of hijackings in South Africa – these are the worst areas to own a car

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