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.

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPASTIMES -

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.

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