Rating of your car’s security system is available – for a fee
The security systems that motor manufacturers fit to vehicles are rated, and the rating is one of the factors that influences the premiums that your insurer charges. But, as Neesa Moodley-Isaacs reports, the ratings are not freely available.
Insurers use, as an underwriting tool, a list that rates the effectiveness of the factory-fitted security systems of cars manufactured since 1996. However, you, the consumer, have to pay a monthly fee of R70 to access the list.
Charles Pillai, the Ombud for Financial Services Providers, says it is ridiculous that you have to pay for a copy of the list, as any arrangement that affects consumers should be transparent.
Last week, Pillai criticised the insurance industry and motor manufacturers for the ambiguity over anti-theft devices required for insurance and the absence of a common list of the security devices required by insurers.
“Such an opaque arrangement only lends itself to the confusion surrounding car insurance and the different security measures required by different insurers. Considering the millions of cars on the road, it is clear that it is in the consumer’s interest to have such a list made public so that consumers can make informed choices when purchasing vehicles,” Pillai says.
The vehicle security system (VSS) list covers 95 to 100 percent of cars currently on the road.
AFFECT ON CLAIMS
You need to be aware of the security devices required by your insurer when you buy a car or when you switch insurers. If, for example, your insurer asks you to fit a gearlock to your car and you fail to do so, this could result in your insurance claim being turned down.
When you take out car insurance or switch insurers, you may be asked to take your car to an auto assessment centre, where the security features are verified.
The cost of the assessment when you switch insurers is usually covered by the insurer.
Last year, the South African Insurance Association (Saia) outsourced the administration of the VSS list to the South African Independent Accreditation Services (Saias).
Trevor Devitt, the communications manager of Outsurance, says he agrees with Pillai that there is a definite need for proper advice about anti-theft devices.
Devitt says Outsurance is particular about giving clients specific details of any security requirements and how these requirements affect their cover. It also follows up with clients to ensure that any terms and conditions have been met so that the client is covered, he says.
“The VSS list is not really a uniform list, and not all insurers use it as the absolute guideline. Insurers also take into account the data at their disposal and their own claims history on a particular car model.
“When deciding on the security requirements, each case would also have to be assessed individually, based on factors such as the area where you live, where you park your car at night and whether or not you use your car for business ,” Devitt says.
Refilwe Moletsane, the deputy chief executive at Saia, says the VSS list was never intended for public use but is an underwriting tool drawn up in terms of an agreement between the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) and Saia.
Nico Vermuelen, the director of Naamsa, says the VSS list was introduced in 1996 amid growing pressure from insurers.
“We (car manufacturers) were told in no uncertain terms that insurers were prepared to insure cars only if an approved security system had been installed, due to the high levels of theft and hijacking in South Africa,” he says.
Vermuelen says manufacturers responded to this demand by installing security devices at manufacturing level, because this proved more cost-effective than installing a security system as an “add-on” feature.