Consumers to ensure they are adequately protected to avoid financial loss
Crime statistics published yesterday reveal that carjacking has spiked over the 2014/15 year, increasing by 14.2% in comparison to the previous year. The province which has witnessed the most significant increase is the Western Cape (60%), followed by Mpumalanga (41,8%) and Limpopo (38.6%). According to Dawie Buys, Manager of Insurance Risks at the South African Insurance Association (SAIA), these statistics highlight the extreme financial risks that consumers are exposed to if they do not have comprehensive motor insurance cover in place.
Buys says that in a challenging economic environment consumers often see insurance as a ‘grudge purchase’ and one of the costs which can be cut when facing financial troubles. He explains that these statistics demonstrate exactly why insurance should not be considered in this light, and why it should be the last cost to cut, especially when facing financial difficulties.
“Often consumers do not realise the dire financial consequences they may face should they become a victim and not have the adequate protection in place. As many vehicles are financed through financial institutions, uninsured individuals will be in a worse situation than before, indebted to banks for the foreseeable future,” says Buys.
“We also urge consumers to ensure that they have the correct type of insurance in place and to be 100% certain that they are covered in the case of a carjacking. As some cars are more prone to theft than others, insurers may require additional security features or tracking devices to be fitted. Consumers should consult their insurers or brokers to find out if this is applicable to their policy, as should the correct security features not be in place, the insurance provider may not provide financial compensation. Always make sure that you are fully aware of what your insurance policy includes and if there are any exclusions to take note of.”
Buys says that in addition to the financial protection that motor insurance policies provide, many also provide cover for trauma counselling and any related medical costs. “Consumers should consider these value added services when selecting motor insurance as it can provide much needed counsel post a traumatic incident. A carjacking is so much more than a financially traumatising experience, and these value added products can be very useful for individuals and their families.”
He says that carjacking remains a serious concern for the South African insurance industry, and is a rising concern that both insurers and consumers need to take note of. “Besides the traumatic experience, a carjacking incident has the potential to ruin an individual financially. We therefore urge consumers to recognise that this is a rising risk in South Africa, that they need the necessary protection in place.”
Buys provides the following tips for consumers to prevent a potential carjacking situation:
- Always be alert of your surroundings and ensure that you are not being followed. If you suspect that you are being followed do not turn into your driveway or garage, and instead drive to a place of safety or to the nearest police station.
- Carjackers often select a location for a very specific reason. Traffic lights, intersections and parking lots are often targeted by criminals as vehicles stop for a few minutes and are therefore an easy target. Always be alert at traffic lights and ensure that all valuables are out of sight.
- Ensure that you do not always make use of the same routes home or to work as carjackers often pick up on routine. Change your route home every now and then to avoid the possibility of this occurring.
- Ensure that driveways and garages are well lit and not surrounded by too much vegetation as carjackers can make use of shadows and dense bushes to hide in.
- Consider fitting smash and grab safety film on your vehicle’s windows as it can often prevent criminals gaining access to the vehicle.
- A risky time for drivers to be alert is when they are getting in and out of a vehicle. Always try to park in busy areas that are well-lit, and immediately close the door and lock it.
- It is essential to physically check if the vehicle is locked as criminals also make use of jamming devices which can prevent the vehicle from being locked. This enables criminals to either steal the contents in the vehicle or steal the vehicle itself.
- In a potential carjacking situation always remain calm, never try to attack and keep your hands where the attacker can see them.