A recent surge in car hijackings, particularly targeting high-value vehicles such as bakkies and SUVs, has been reported in the latest Insurance Barometer by Santam. This alarming trend has been attributed to the advanced security features in newer vehicles, making older cars less appealing to criminals.
According to the report, the shift in criminal preference is causing an unsustainable spike in theft claims. As a result, insurance companies are contemplating measures to counteract this trend, including the potential increase in premiums. Another proposed solution is the installation of tracking devices on vehicles. Interestingly, the report suggests the possibility of installing not one but two tracking devices in clients’ vehicles. This has raised questions about whether these devices would be from two different tracking companies or the same one. The rationale behind this suggestion is to provide added protection against sophisticated criminal syndicates.
Previously, criminals would target the most at-risk vehicles, which were typically older models with less advanced technology. These vehicles, still reliant on traditional keys for ignition, were easier to break into compared to their modern counterparts equipped with features like fingerprint ID. However, this trend is rapidly changing. Criminals, armed with advanced technology, are now undeterred by the type of vehicle, making even the latest models vulnerable to theft.
High-value SUVs, in particular, have become prime targets for these criminal enterprises. Once stolen, many of these vehicles are believed to be transported outside of South Africa. Specific vehicle models that have been frequently targeted include the Toyota Hilux, Toyota Fortuna, Toyota Corolla, VW Polo, and Nissan NP200.
Geographically, some provinces have been identified as higher-risk zones for theft and hijacking incidents. Gauteng and the Western Cape, for instance, have reported higher incidents compared to other provinces.
The report also delves into the potential implications for insurance premiums. There might be a differentiation in charges based on the risk profile of the vehicle. High-risk vehicles, such as SUVs or 4x4s, might attract higher premiums. However, the introduction of security interventions, like the aforementioned tracking devices, could potentially mitigate these risks.
Thabo Twalo, Santam’s Head of Commercial Lines, emphasized the importance of sustainable premiums for both customers and insurance companies. He suggests that vehicle owners, especially those with high-risk models, should consider additional security measures, including the installation of a second tracker.
As the country grapples with this rising menace, vehicle owners are advised to remain vigilant and explore all available options to safeguard their assets.