The type of vehicle you buy not only affects the likelihood of you being a victim of crime, but also the amount you pay in insurance, so think twice before buying a high-risk car.
The Crime Statistics report released in October this year found that the VW Polo hatchback and sedan are the most-stolen cars in South Africa, making up a third of all vehicles stolen.
There are various reasons for this. For one, they are the best-selling cars in the country, so it’s a simple matter of statistics that they are more likely to be stolen.
Because they are so common, they are also inconspicuous, which makes them a favourite for criminals wanting to use a stolen vehicle to commit a crime. White or silver-grey cars are the most sought-after by syndicates.
Also, their parts can be used in other cars.
Ernst North of app-based insurer Naked says that the increase in stolen vehicles relates to the current disruption in supply chains due to loadshedding, floods, and lockdowns in China.
This affects availability of parts and has an impact on which vehicles are more popular among thieves.
Certain Toyota vehicles are also high on the most-stolen list. These include the Hilux and Fortuner, as they have compatible engines with the Toyota Quantum taxi. The Ford Ranger is also popular among hijackers, as well as the Nissan NP 200.
In terms of entry-level cars, the Toyota Etios and the Ford Figo are among the most likely to be stolen. The cars that are the least likely to be stolen are Subaru, Volvo and Chrysler.
Find out if the car you’re eyeing is a high-risk car
Wynand van Vuuren, client experience partner at King Price Insurance says syndicates tend to work in certain areas targeting specific models.
He recommends that before you buy a vehicle, find out from your tracking company or local security company which are the high-risk cars in your area. He also recommends that if you are looking at several car options, first ask your insurer for comparison quotes on each vehicle.
Van Vuuren says premiums are likely to be higher on those cars that are targeted by criminal syndicates as the claims have increased, yet for other, less-targeted cars, policy holders could see lower premium increases.
North says that while the risk of a car being stolen may affect the premium, theft and hijackings make up a relatively small percentage of what you are paying for when you buy insurance. The bulk of the premium is to cover accidents and related repair costs.
Your premium will also depend on what area you live in and where your car is parked both during the day and at night. “If you are parked in a garage for example, you will pay a lower premium than someone who parks on the street,” explains van Vuuren.
Some insurance companies may require you to have a tracking device on your vehicle if it is considered a high-risk car. Van Vuuren says the amount you will pay for the tracking device depends on what package and additional services you include but they start from around R60 up to R200 a month.
If you are driving a high-risk car, it is advisable to put a tracker into the car and opt for additional benefits such as a “jamming alert” which detects if someone has jammed your locking system. This is a common practice used by criminal syndicates who use jamming devices to prevent your car from locking.
According to van Vuuren, the criminals can also duplicate the signal of your remote key and use that to unlock the vehicle.
If you do drive a high-risk car, you do not need to panic and sell the car. According to North, statistically a high-risk car is only around 10% to 20% more likely to be stolen and you can put additional security measures in place such as tracking devices. It matters more where you drive and where you park your car at night.
You cannot afford not to have third-party insurance
Being uninsured is the one of the biggest financial risks a motorist can take. Only an estimated 30% of motorists on South African roads are insured. That means if you are in a car accident, there is a 70% chance that the other motorist is uninsured.
It is important to note that if you have a financed car, part of your agreement with the finance house is to have a fully comprehensive insurance policy in place. If you do not, you are in breach of the contract.
Some motorists, who drive low-value, unfinanced cars may feel that insurance is not worth it. They believe that the car is unlikely to be stolen and they believe they are good drivers. But if you cause an accident, you will be fully liable even if the other person is insured, costing you tens of thousands of rands.
Van Vuuren says that not only is the motorist liable to pay for the damage to the car but they may also have to foot the bill for any legal expenses.
For only around R100 a month you can get third-party insurance which will cover both the repairs and legal bills. That is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing you are covered in the event of an accident, and you can hand over the matter to your insurer rather than getting into legal disputes with another driver.
This article first appeared in City Press.