Santam has started demanding that some of its insurance clients with cars often targeted by thieves and hijackers install a second tracking device in their vehicles.
MyBroadband became aware of the development after a Santam customer informed us the insurer recently told him about the requirement for his 2018 Toyota Fortuner.
The additional tracking device needed to be from a different Santam-accredited tracking company than his first device.
The 38-year-old reader had a relatively low-risk profile, having only ever claimed for minor dents and windscreen damage, with no history of falling victim to vehicle theft or hijacking.
The vehicle’s “sleeping” address was also in a highly-secure residential estate in Centurion.
Several insurers require that customers install a tracking device for certain high-risk vehicles, like the Toyota Fortuner or Hilux, Volkswagen Polo, and Ford Ranger.
However, it was the first time MyBroadband had heard of one demanding multiple working trackers from different companies.
Santam executive head of intermediate business Andrew Coutts confirmed the insurer had communicated the requirement with intermediaries and a small portion of its motor policy clients.
“From 15 December 2022, some motor clients will be required to have installed a vehicle tracking device that meets Santam’s requirements,” Coutts said.
“In some cases, for the very high-risk and high-value vehicles, we will insist on a second device to also be installed.”
Coutts said the tracking devices must be operational and have an active tracking service subscription.
“Santam believes that this approach is necessary given that trends in vehicle theft and hijacking have changed significantly in recent months and will provide a further level of comfort to affected vehicle owners.”
Coutts said the measures focused on only 4% of Santam’s total insured vehicle base, which accounted for 50% of the value of its theft and hijacking claims.
Coutts said Santam had observed a significant increase in both the frequency and average value of stolen and hijacked vehicles in recent months.
“While older vehicles with less sophisticated alarm systems were targeted in the past, 2022 has shown a significant shift towards newer and more expensive vehicles being stolen, resulting in the average value of stolen vehicle increasing by more than 75%,” Coutts said.
“Specific types and brands of vehicles continue to be targeted, with a shift towards newer models and SUVs, especially vehicles with keyless entry, with an increasing shift towards robberies rather than the theft of unoccupied vehicles.”
Toyota South Africa recently announced it would start providing South African customers with free anti-theft security updates for certain newer models to counter tech-savvy criminals.
Its research found that these perpetrators were using three new methods to steal cars:
- CAN Attack — The vehicle’s Control Area Network is infiltrated using highly sophisticated electronic equipment to gain entry and then access the computer system to start the engine.
- Fob Relaying — High-tech receivers and transmitters are used to remotely read the vehicle’s security key while in the owner’s possession, thereby allowing the attacker to unlock and start the car.
- Forced Entry and Key Cloning combo — using advanced techniques and equipment to disable the vehicle’s alarm system and then cloning its security key.
Location, location, location
Coutts said the customer’s geographic location was another element that factored into the need for a secondary tracker.
He explained that vehicle theft rates differed substantially per geographical area.
In Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, it is three times higher than in the urban areas of the Western Cape, but thefts in Mpumalanga and Limpopo are showing notable increases too.
“This targeted approach has resulted in the likelihood of theft of certain selected vehicles in the high-risk geographies being more than ten times that of the national average,” Coutts said.
Coutts said Santam opted to make clients aware of the risks and looked into alternatives to help reduce the likelihood of theft, rather than simply increasing premiums to avoid its cover regime becoming unsustainable.
He added that a secondary vehicle tracking device significantly improved vehicle recovery rates.
“The installation of a tracking device not only aids in faster recovery of the vehicle but also results in less damage, quicker repairs, and less inconvenience to our clients,” Coutts stated.
“Santam’s claims experience indicates that very often vehicles are recovered without any damage.”
With the necessary devices installed, Santam waives the payment of an excess in case of theft or hijacking and gives the customer a premium discount.
MyBroadband asked several other vehicle insurance companies whether they required multiple trackers in their clients’ cars.
At the time of publication, Hollard, Outsurance and Naked Insurance had confirmed they do not require multiple trackers for any customers or car models.
Hollard added that it was exploring additional security measures that can be taken by policyholders as it has also seen a big increase in vehicle thefts, while recoveries of stolen cars have dropped.