South African car owners face an increasingly high risk of vehicle theft or hijacking, and many insurers now insist that certain vehicles have tracking devices installed before granting cover.

But even if one isn’t compelled to by an insurer, consumers and businesses should consider the substantial benefits these devices offer.

The advantages of tracking devices far outweigh their relatively low monthly cost, especially in high-crime areas.

“Car hijackings have been on the rise since 2020. According to the latest SAPS crime statistics, there were 5 973 carjackings in the fourth quarter of 2023. This equates to about 66 cars being hijacked per day, which represents an increase of 34% over pre-pandemic levels,” says Marius Kemp Head of Personal Lines Insurance at Santam, South Africa’s largest short-term insurer.

Gauteng is the worst region in South Africa for this type of crime. Of the almost 6 000 cars hijacked in the fourth quarter of 2023, half (3 010, or 50.4%) were from Gauteng. The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were the next worst-hit provinces, at about 14% each.

“These statistics are only for hijackings, involving some sort of violence or coercion against the driver. Total vehicle thefts are around 10 000 per quarter or about 40 000 annually,” Kemp says.

A hijacking trend highlighted in the 2022/23 Santam Insurance Barometer Report showed that there has been a shift away from older, low-value vehicles with limited security features towards more expensive double cabs and SUVs.

“The hi-tech features on newer, higher-end cars often aren’t the deterrent one would think. For example, cars with keyless entry have become specific targets for criminals, who are able to intercept the signal coming from the driver’s remote,” Kemp says.

Facing a post-pandemic spike in car theft claims, insurance companies, including Santam, were left with no choice but to introduce mandatory hijacking and theft countermeasures.

These measures proved effective. Santam’s personal lines hijacking claims were down by 24% for the first half of 2023, and vehicle theft claims down by 19%.

Kemp says having a tracking device won’t prevent a car from being stolen, but will, in most cases, ensure a rapid recovery.

Apart from the high chance of recovery, installing a tracking device has the following benefits:

– Reduction in insurance premiums. “The reduction will depend on your risk profile, type of vehicle and where you live, but all other things being equal, a car owner with a tracking device will pay a lower premium each month than a car owner without one,” Kemp says. “In some cases the monthly discount on the premium will be higher than the monthly cost of the device.”
– Less downtime. Quick recoveries mean that, in many cases, consumers and businesses are not left stranded without transportation for long periods.
– Roadside assistance. The tracking subscription may include a roadside assistance service in the event of a breakdown, although insurers generally offer this service on vehicle policies weather there is a tracking device or not.
– Additional features and services. Depending on the option, the service may include app-based tracking in real time, a trip logbook and, for businesses, fleet management.

“The more South Africans can be proactive in thwarting criminals, the more we can bring down the crime levels in our country, and one way to do that is by installing a tracking device in your car,” Kemp concludes.

Article credit Insurers urge customers to install trackers as high-end vehicle theft increases (

Insurers urge customers to install trackers as high-end vehicle theft increases image