If insurance companies insist on installing a tracker or home alarm — be concerned

Insurance companies are well within their rights to request that their clients install trackers in their cars, and customers should view the requirement as bolstering their safety on South Africa’s roads.

This is according to AMI CEO Christelle Colman, who said motorists should be concerned about their road safety if their insurer asks them to install a tracking device.

“There has been a massive spike of hijacked vehicles and stolen vehicles in recent times, and almost all insurance companies have made the installation of tracking devices in certain areas and for high-risk vehicles a minimum requirement,” she said in an interview with CapeTalk.

Colman likened the trend to insurers requiring homeowners to install alarm systems for home contents insurance coverage.

“If an insurance company is saying they won’t cover your vehicle for a theft risk, or they will put a very high premium on it because they think it is going to be stolen, then you as the driver and the owner should be concerned,” she said.

“There’s a personal threat to your safety if you don’t have that device installed.”

Referring to her own experience in the insurance industry, Colman said tracking devices offer massive relief to insurers and their clients.

“Over the years, I have had so many instances where someone has been hijacked, and the relief when you realise that the vehicle has a tracking device and we can work with the tracking companies to recover the vehicle and possibly help that person to safety is huge,” she said.

“Don’t see this as insurance companies being difficult. We together [with tracking companies] work to identify what are the problem vehicles and [determine] how to mitigate this risk.”

“[There are] vehicle makes and even certain colours of vehicles that are more attractive. These syndicates have got shopping lists of cars that they go after, and no one is safe,” Colman added.

She described the trend of insurers requiring tracker installations for specific vehicle makes and models as “proactive risk management measures”.

“Insurance companies fundamentally have the duty to manage the pool of premium that they get paid by their policyholders so that there’s enough money in the pool to pay claims,” Colman said.

“This has become a massive problem, these thefts and hijackings, so it has to be managed by the insurance industry, and a very simple way to do it is to take proactive risk management measures.”

Big Brother’s watching

In response to a question over concerns about insurance companies knowing a policyholder’s whereabouts and driving habits, Colman said insurers have to treat clients fairly when considering rejecting a claim.

“The Big Brother in the car concern is something that everyone is worried about. I see this from a positive perspective. Insurance companies have to treat customers fairly. It’s a principle engrained in all that we do,” she said.

“You can’t be unfair towards your clients when it comes to rejection of claims. The ombudsman stands very strongly on these issues.”

“I really do think the benefit of being safe far outweighs the possibility of your claim being rejected because you overtook someone on the highway,” Coleman added.

She explained that tracking companies can access more than just data on hijacking incidents. They gather data on motorists’ driving behaviour as a whole.

“If you are a good driver, you’ve got nothing to fear. You should be concerned about the safety that you as an individual have on the roads in South Africa,” Coleman said.

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If insurance companies insist on installing a tracker or home alarm — be concerned