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27 January 2012 at 16:19 - Posted by Anonymous

Jammer theft could mean no payout


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Motorists victimised by car jammers, who remotely break into their cars and steal their belongings, could have their insurance claims refused because their cars were technically unlocked.

And while unhappy claimants are fighting their insurers’ decisions at the ombudsman, claiming they fell victim to the jammer scam, insurance industry experts say the decision to repudiate a claim lies with individual insurers.

Most insurers have policies which insist that theft-out-of-car claims will be paid out only if there is proof of forcible entry into the vehicle and there was no negligence on the side of the motorist.

The car lock jamming scam involves criminals using domestic remote controls to interfere with the signal of the car remote, preventing the car from being locked electronically. When the motorists are out of sight, they then access the vehicle and steal the motorist’s personal possessions.

High-end shopping malls across Gauteng have been hard hit, and of late, criminals have been targeting primary schools when parents park to take their small children to their classes.

Three suspected car jammers were to appear in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Friday after being arrested in Rosebank earlier this week. They were found with one laser jammer and suspected stolen goods in their possession.

Their arrest happened in a week when a shootout occurred at Bryanston Parallel Medium Primary School when police tried to apprehend a man in a black Subaru suspected of car jamming.

Darpana Harkison, senior assistant ombudsman at the office of the ombudsman for short-term insurance, said they had received numerous complaints of insurers refusing to pay out.

She would not give details or statistics of caseloads.

Harkison said most policies required evidence of violent and forcible entry into the vehicle in order for the insured to enjoy theft cover in respect of the contents in the vehicle.

But she said each matter was dealt with on its own merits, depending on the circumstances and the provisions of the policy’s wording.

Viviene Pearson, from the SA Insurance Association, said it was the prerogative of the various insurers to decide whether they wanted to cover such claims.

She said insured motorists had a responsibility to check their policy documents to see how they were covered, and they had the option of changing insurers if their needs were not met.

“There is no regulation that would set a standard policy. It’s part of the competition in industry. Make sure that your insurance suits your needs,” said Pearson.

She said insured motorists had the responsibility of exercising due care by double-checking whether their cars were locked and not leaving their belongings visible.

The Compass insurance company, whose portfolio is managed by Motor Insurance Underwriters, offers R5 000 cover for instances where a person falls victim to the scam and their vehicle’s contents are stolen.

MIU’s Christelle Fourie said they added that cover to the insurance after many claims were submitted with clients complaining about having their vehicle’s contents stolen while there was no forced entry.

Fourie said they had seen an increase in these occurrences, and that not having cover for it left motorists exposed. For the past six months they had been getting reports of these incidents, she added.

“We pay R5 000, subject to a policy excess of R1 000. As there is no forced entry, we just have to trust our clients if they say that’s what happened. Everything is done in good faith, but the police have to be informed and a sworn statement made,” she said. - The Star

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