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What crime means for SA insurance consumers and how to protect your assets

What crime means for SA insurance consumers and how to protect your assets
14-08-23 / Tommy Jackson

What crime means for SA insurance consumers and how to protect your assets

Johannesburg - The most recent statistics released by the South African Police Service have shown several notable decreases in certain types of crimes. While these findings paint an encouraging picture, crimes like household robberies are on the rise. Efforts made by the Minister of Police to “put more boots on the ground” are a welcomed development in the fight against crime, but there is much that South Africans can do to safeguard their own assets in a high-crime environment.

Providing guidance on this, is Karen Rimmer, Head of Distribution at PSG Insure. As she points out, there are numerous strategies that South Africans can implement to safeguard their assets, including their vehicles, as well as any residential or commercial properties from unnecessary risks.

Car theft: how to protect your vehicle

“Available data suggests that vehicles with keyless entry systems are becoming a common target for criminals. This feature allows drivers to access their cars without the use of a key, using technology that relies on short-range radio signals which are constantly conducting scans to detect when the driver is within range. But, while this has introduced a new level of convenience for drivers, keyless technology systems are particularly vulnerable to relay attacks,” says Rimmer.  

There are several vehicles that have been identified as common targets for this type of crime. To counteract the increased losses on these high-end vehicles, some insurers have stipulated that motorists should install two tracking devices as a safety measure. In these cases, it is essential for drivers to ensure that their tracking systems are fully operational at all times, to avoid their claims from being rejected if an unexpected issue should occur.

Adding to this, Rimmer advises on another good practice for drivers, which is to keep their key fob as far away from their vehicle as possible. Storing the key fob in a Faraday pouch, which blocks any external signals is also highly recommended. “Drivers are also advised to ensure that no items are left on their backseats or are in any way visible while their car is parked or stationary. In general, drivers need to remain vigilant and keep an eye on their surroundings at traffic lights or during any occasional stops.”

In tandem with these risk mitigation methods, drivers can also take out comprehensive motor insurance policies. Some insurers provide for additional benefits, such as trauma counselling and personal accident cover.

How to keep your property safe and secure

According to the most recent statistics, robberies of residential properties has increased by just over 6%, with 5 578 cases being reported during the first quarter of 2023. The ongoing electricity crisis means criminals can take advantage of power cuts to prey on vulnerable households and insurers have seen an increase in residential robbery claims over the last year.

With this in mind, homeowners and commercial property owners need to take extra care to ensure security systems are working properly. Before leaving the property, the alarm should be set. And as an extra layer of security, measures such as installing padlocks, burglar bars and deadbolts can go a long way in preventing break-ins.

In addition, Rimmer suggests that, where properties are secured by electric fencing, it’s important to ensure that the back-up batteries used to power these systems, in the event of a cut in the energy supply, have enough reserve power to sustain the system for at least four hours. “The use of LED lighting systems and solar-powered lights for the perimeter of the property, as well as any outdoor areas, is also advised.”

Torches that are solar- or battery-powered should be stored in multiple, easily accessible locations around the property, as well as a spare set of batteries. Keeping your mobile phone fully charged is also vitally important, especially in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, if the gate to your property needs to be manually opened or closed, you could also request your security company to provide you with an escort when accessing or leaving the property during quieter periods.

As Rimmer concludes: “In a high-crime environment, insurance underwriters apply more stringent criteria to policies in order to prevent excessive losses. It is therefore important for South African consumers to ensure that they understand any conditions that are included as part of their policies and that they have a full view on what their responsibilities are in keeping their assets safe.”

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