What you need to know about vehicle tracking devices and insurance
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By: Karabo Kopeka
Given the high incidence of hijackings, accidents and vehicle thefts reported in South Africa each year, it's unsurprising that tracking devices have become a relatively commonplace in recent times, with many insurers requiring that certain vehicles be equipped with one in order to qualify for cover.
While these devices aren't always obligatory for vehicle owners, they can have a significant impact on one's monthly premiums, given their ability to facilitate the retrieval of stolen vehicles and to incentivise more sensible driving habits.
It's important to remember that not all tracking devices are created equal. While some are optimised to track speed, others are specifically designed to monitor impact and positioning. Given the differences in modality and functionality, you'd be well advised to do your homework before arming yourself with a new device, as your choice could impact both your monthly premiums and any future insurance claims.
Whether you're already in possession of a tracker or contemplating the installation thereof, here's a handy checklist of things to keep in mind to ensure you're both adequately protected and constantly covered:
Opt for the latest technology
Make sure that your tracker can be linked to your mobile phone, enabling you to receive warning messages should you enter a zone that might be considered high risk. Furthermore, a credible tracker should also offer sensor-based functionality that allows your insurer to be notified immediately in the event of an accident, and to dispatch appropriate resources to assist you.
Ensure you're insured
Before installing a device, consult with your insurer to ensure it meets the standards outlined in your policy. Given the various forms of functionality available, the installation of the wrong type of tracker could end up invalidating future claims. It's equally vital that you keep tabs on your tracker, performing regular checks to ensure it's functioning as it should. A faulty tracker poses safety risks and could also end up being problematic in the event of a claim, as your insurer won't be able to verify the details thereof.
Understand your options
Over and above the functionality of your device itself, it's vital that you understand the various ways in which your insurer can utilise it to provide you with additional protection and peace of mind. From roadside assistance to impact alerts, insurers offer a gamut of services to keep you safe and reduce your risk profile. It's equally important to understand exactly how these offerings work - whereas some require manual activation, others are equipped to trigger automatic alerts to your insurer in the event of an emergency. Familiarise yourself with the functionality of the various offerings before making any potentially risky assumptions.
Sound the alarm
While today's trackers are increasingly efficient, there's no substitute for human intelligence. So, if you've been hijacked or had your vehicle stolen, don't make the mistake of thinking that your tracker will immediately detect what's happened. Provided you're able to do so, it's best to call your insurance company and the relevant authorities as soon as possible in the event of any form of emergency, to reduce response time and better your chances of having your car returned to you.
When it comes to tracking solutions, information is all-important. Before arming your vehicle with a new or replacement device, ensure you understand all the various options available to you, making sure to consult your insurer to secure the solution best suited to your individual needs.
Karabo Kopeka is Head of Claims at MiWay Insurance