Many motorists fit tracking devices to their vehicle, either as a requirement on the part of the insurer or in order to lower their monthly premiums.
However, for many it is very much a “fit and forget” kind of device that you might not really think about much until the unthinkable happens.
But can an insurer reject a claim if your tracking device was not working at the time of the theft? And are consumers responsible for making sure it’s in working order?
We spoke to a few insurance companies and a vehicle tracking company to shed some light on the topic.
Wynand van Vuuren, client experience partner at King Price Insurance, says it is essential that customers read their policy wording and schedule as this will detail all obligations and responsibilities.
“If an insurer makes the installation of a tracking device a condition of cover and the device is not in working order at the time of the car being stolen, it may very well affect the outcome of a claim.”
But what steps can a client take to ensure that it is in working order?
“Some devices will tell you if there’s something faulty, while for others you need to call the tracking company to test if the device is still working,” Van Vuuren added.
“However, the onus is on the client to ensure that the tracking device is installed, if the insurer makes this a condition of cover, and also to ensure that it's always in working condition and the monthly payments to the tracking provider are up to date.”
Keletso Mpisane, head of MiWay Blink, reiterated that tracking units must be paid up and in working condition at all times.
“However, we take all factors that come into play when making a decision on a claim where the unit was not in a working condition at the time of the loss,” Mpisane added.
Although most MiWay clients are not required to have a tracking device, those that do are also required to keep their MiWay Blink App active via Bluetooth and must agree to tracking permissions. The app can also detect if a client is in an accident.
Tracking company weighs in
Tracker, a leading tracking company in South Africa, says that while its clients are obliged to ensure their units are in working condition, the company does regularly engage with customers to assure them that all is in order and also contacts clients to resolve issues when its device health checks indicate a problem with a device.
“Depending on device type, the bulk of our customer base is able to verify a device is in working condition purely from their regular app view, which shows their vehicle location and status (dot-on-map),” a Tracker spokesperson said.
“For devices using radio frequency technology, which does not reflect on an app view, these undergo quality assurance checks confirming that a device is in working order, or not as the case may be.”
If any device is found to not be in working order, the customer is contacted.
Tracker says it follows rigorous processes in conjunction with car companies to ensure its trackers are compatible with modern vehicle electronics, and devices fitted since 2017 have a lifetime warranty.
“That said, certain incidents may affect the workings of the device, so we ask customers to ensure that they test their device is still in working order following any repair work done to their vehicles, or following any accidents their vehicles may be involved in.
“Our customers should also ensure that they maintain and update their contact details on our system whenever necessary, via phone-in, email or updating their profile on our web portal.”
Bottom line: make sure you know the wording of your insurance policy and make sure to regularly test your tracking device, either through an app or making contact with the tracking company.