Remote / signal jamming has become a huge problem in South Africa. We know, just another big problem in our growing list of big problems. Schools, petrol stations, car parks, shopping centres – wherever you may park your car, the criminals are waiting. Purse snatching is so last season.
Since about 2011, a new trend has been taking over. The bandits have been using simple garage remotes to jam the signal when you push the button on your car remote / key fob to lock your vehicle. When you walk away, thinking that you’ve locked your car and that everything inside is relatively safe, it’s not.
A few years ago we covered this very topic in a different article. Back then, most insurers were still rejecting these theft-from-motor vehicle claims on the basis that there was no forced entry.
Now, it looks like they might be softening to our plight.
As briefly explained above, criminals have been using signal jammers to prevent your car remote from locking your car and setting the alarm. They monitor people in areas where they park their cars. They simply hold the button in on their remote, which operates on the same 433mhz frequency as your car remote. This signal effectively interrupts your own. You don’t hear a thing.
Victims stroll away from the car, unaware that they’ve just been jammed, and then the thieves swoop in on your valuables harder than Adele hitting a buffet after a bad breakup. There’s no trace left of them and no sign of entry – and that’s if they’re nice enough to leave the actual car behind.
Because of this, many insurance companies have refused to pay out any claims from the victims. They argue that it’s the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their car is locked before they walk away, and technically, in these scenarios – the owners have left their cars unlocked.
Despite widespread warnings and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of remote jamming, incidents have not abated. In fact, they seem to have increased. One thing that has changed, mercifully, is the way these claims are being handled by insurers.
A while ago, multiple insurance companies announced that due to the increased prevalence of remote blocking incidents and customer feedback‚ their policies now cover items stolen from unoccupied motor vehicles‚ even if there are no visible signs of forced entry. Provided, of course, that some conditions are met.
Those conditions include a maximum payout of R10‚000 for any one event‚ an excess of 10% on each item stolen and only items specified in the policy schedule will be covered.
Some companies have been compensating their policyholders for a few years now, even if there are no visible signs of forced entry. These include 1st For Women, DialDirect and Auto & General. However, these companies have a condition of their own.
You must be able to show, via CCTV footage or some other evidence, that you’ve made an attempt to lock your vehicle. Hollard also provides cover, up to a relatively small limit, should there be no forced entry in a theft-from-car incident. A higher limit, however, will apply if any proof of remote jamming can be provided. This could be CCTV footage or a reliable third party eyewitness account.
Not too much joy on that one, but at least it’s something.
Other insurers will settle your remote jamming-related claim only once. Their reasoning is that victims are generally more vigilant after the first incident and will therefore be on the lookout in the future.
It is preventable, simply by checking to see if you car is, in fact, locked. Just like us old-school people do, who still lock our cars with a good old-fashioned key.
We know; it’s pretty hard to pay attention these days. The complexities of pushing a button and then lowering your field of vision a few centimetres in order to ascertain whether your car is locked or not is too much for some people to handle.
Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Things like Table Mountain are distracting, and so, it helps to be vigilant. Ignore the mountains for the time being. Leave your phone alone. It also helps to invest in a device, something like the JamGuard – which will alert you if it picks up any frequencies held for an abnormal amount of time. Because, you guessed it – that means the scallywags are about. If it happens in a busy mall or casino parking lot – as is most likely – speak to management about their CCTV footage
It's generally not a great idea to leave your valuables laying about on the car seat or in the boot of your unattended vehicle. Things shouldn’t be this way, but they are, so it's also wise to find out if your policy covers you in the event of such an incident. Always read the terms and conditions. If you’re not covered, negotiate an amendment of your policy on the grounds that, hey, other insurance companies cover it. Why don’t you?
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