South African insurers deny using trackers to spy on drivers

Vehicle tracking devices are capable of collecting a wealth of data about your driving habits, location, and activity, although South African insurers state that they do not use this data without the driver’s permission.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Santam, Discovery, and Dialdirect said that this information would not be used to repudiate an insurance claim and would only be used if the driver gave permission.

Insurers can reject claims due to dangerous driving or speeding, and tracking devices allow these companies to collect this information and check whether the driver was at fault.

Dialdirect said this information does not influence the processing of claims, however, as the purpose of the insurance product is to cover the driver whether at fault or not.

These companies do have the legal right to use this data to repudiate a claim, however, as long as it is outlined in the contract between the driver and the insurer.

Instances where insurers have reportedly used driver telematics to verify a claim include occasions when the company suspects fraud or misrepresentation of the facts.

Driver concerns

The amount of data collected by insurers using drivers’ telematics devices may still be concerning, however, as one driver complained to the Sunday Times that his tracker was functioning as a “spy device”.

He said the device would collect data every 30 seconds, and this information would be sent to the tracking company where it would be stored for three years.

He added that when he asked his broker why he needed a telematics device fitted to his vehicle, he was told that his insurer might be prejudiced against his claims if he refused.

Tracking units can also cause trouble if installed incorrectly, as demonstrated in the recent case of a MyBroadband reader whose tracker was draining his car’s battery.

This was a result of tracking companies failing to remove an older tracking unit and wiring another one into the vehicle, resulting in unusually high battery drain due to the monitoring hardware.

In this case, the removal of the tracking units was not covered by the driver’s warranty, and the dealer who sold the reader their car admitted that this was a relatively common issue for drivers with tracking units installed.

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South African insurers deny using trackers to spy on drivers