Insurers now insist on two tracking devices as hijacking claims skyrocket in South Africa

 ·25 Oct 2023

Vehicle hijacking and theft claims have skyrocketed to unsustainable levels, and insurers are insisting certain clients now install two tracking devices as they try to mitigate the cost of these claims.

This is according to Santam, which recently released its Insurance Barometer report for the 2022/23 financial year ending in the first half of 2023, highlighting that hijackings and vehicle theft claims have increased by 32% and 92%, respectively.

Additionally, the insurer noted that high-value vehicle theft claims shot up by 128% on the commercial side, with criminals targeting delivery trucks.

Commenting on these alarming trends, Santam’s Head of Commercial Lines, Thabo Twalo, explained that if you take 2019 as the base year, Santam’s incurred claims for high-theft-risk vehicles increased sixfold and more than doubled the incurred claims for 2021 – a trajectory that is unsustainable.

Santam’s report noted that the experience was so poor that several corrective actions were needed to minimise exposure – including doubling up on vehicle trackers, discussing tech-linked weaknesses with vehicle manufacturers, and promoting Faraday pouches to prevent the cloning of keyless access signals.

“In some instances, we [Santam] insist – depending on the make and model of the vehicle – that clients install two tracking devices in their cars to try to mitigate the increase in the cost of claims,” said Twalo.

He explained that clients may have two tracking devices from the same company, but it is actually preferred if two devices from two separate companies that use different technologies are installed.

“Criminals have become experts at blocking the signals of certain tracking devices, but having two with different technologies complicates their efforts,” he said.

Twalo added that installing an additional tracking device also reduces your premium. This is also true even if you install one tracking device.

Santam noted in its report that it has seen a shift away from older, low-value vehicles with limited security requirements to more expensive double cabs and SUVs. This aligned with the experiences of private security companies such as Fidelity ADT.

According to Fidelity, vehicles under the Toyota, VW, Ford, and Nissan brands continue to be common targets among criminals, and the specific models include:

  • Toyota Hilux, Fortuner, and Corollas
  • VW Polos
  • Nissan NP200s

However, much like Santam’s experience, Fidelity noted that high-value cars such as Toyota Prados and Toyota Landcruisers are among the most popular models for criminals, along with the Hilux bakkie and Fortuner SUV.

The issue is so persistent with Toyota vehicles that the automaker developed numerous safety upgrades for models with the keyless entry ability, which it started providing to customers free of charge in December 2022.

Santam added that these vehicles, along with other high-value targets, are up to 20 times more likely than similar-priced models to be hijacked or stolen. Unsurprisingly, it added that the two most high-risk provinces for vehicle hijackings and theft are Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Read: Warning over car repossessions in South Africa

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