If criminals steal items from your car without visible signs of forced entry, like with car remote jamming, you will not get any money from your insurance company.
This is feedback from three of South Africa’s top car insurance providers — King Price, OUTsurance, and MiWay — who were responding to questions about how claims in car jamming incidents are handled.
Car remote jamming occurs when criminals block, or jam, the locking signals of remote locking devices on vehicles.
Modern remote controls work with radio waves that use a frequency specifically allocated for their purpose, namely 433MHz.
This makes them vulnerable to jamming attacks, which can be as simple as holding down the button of another remote using the same frequency in the vicinity of the key fob you are trying to jam.
When a remote control button is pressed, it sends a message on the allocated frequency to a receiver in the vehicle to perform an action: lock or unlock the vehicle.
At the other end, the receiver is “listening” for a specific message that it can interpret to perform a required action.
When a button of another remote is pressed in close proximity, the receiver receives two messages simultaneously.
The two messages are scrambled, which means the receiver cannot interpret the message and no action is initiated. The vehicle is therefore not locked.
The criminals often use standard gate or garage remote controls to jam the signal, but there are also more powerful professional jamming devices available on the black market.
The image below provides an overview of how car remote jamming works.
Law enforcement agencies have warned South Africans to be vigilant when locking their car because of widespread car remote jamming.
Earlier this year, Hilcrest SAPS communications officer, Captain Linzi Smith said car remote jamming incidents were on the increase.
Smith has urged motorists to ensure their vehicle doors are locked before walking away.
While this is a common crime, it is not trivial for victims to get money from insurance companies for items stolen out of their car.
Aon South Africa said there is generally no cover if there is no evidence of forced entry into your vehicle. This was confirmed by prominent vehicle insurance companies.
Wynand van Vuuren, client experience partner at King Price, said if your vehicle was stolen via a remote jamming incident, they will pay out the claim.
It is, however, a different story when possessions inside the vehicle being stolen via remote jamming.
“Remote jamming is not an exclusion on vehicle theft claims, but most insurers are excluding cover for all-risk items stolen from a vehicle if there were no visible signs of forced entry,” he said.
Karabo Kopeka, MiWay’s head of claims, said they require visible signs of forced entry for a claim where portable possessions were stolen from a vehicle.
“Remote jamming is cited as an example for this exclusion under our policy wording for portable possessions,” he said.
MiWay’s insurance policy clearly states: “If I got car jammed and as a result items were stolen from my vehicle, I will not be covered as it is my responsibility to ensure my car is locked”.
OUTsurance also said its clients are covered for vehicle theft via car remote jamming, but not for unconcealed possessions stolen from inside the vehicle in this scenario.
“Our requirement to have cover for theft out of a vehicle is that there must be visible signs of forced entry into the vehicle and the items that were stolen must have been concealed,” it said.