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Motor Insurance
Sunday, February 1, 2004
Steering clear of problems

Tracker says it has overcome certain grey areas that would otherwise preclude motor manufacturers and insurance companies from endorsing the fitment of electronic tracking systems in South Africa.

“We believe that the simplicity of our installation combined with the non-interference with any vehicle’s on-board electronics gives Tracker a leading edge when compared to other tracking products,” comments sales and marketing director Koos Radebe.
He says his company is the only South African tracking business that has earned the internationally recognised European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI) certificate. “This confirms that our installations do not interfere with sophisticated vehicle electronic and computer systems. This is a major breakthrough for us.
“The ETSI compliance is one of the crucial reasons for the acceptance by all the major South African motor manufacturers, importers and dealers, and provides them with high levels of confidence when it comes to the installation of the Tracker Vehicle Recovery System to a new car,” he explains.
Tracker technical director Clement Olivier says that one of the problems faced by vehicle recovery systems was the highly sophisticated electronic and computer engine management systems fitted to modern cars. Any interference with these systems can lead to potentially dangerous situations, and costly repair bills in case of engine and other component failures.
“One problem for the vehicle owner, even if the vehicle was still under warranty, was that a manufacturer or dealer could claim the failure was caused by interference to electronic management or other systems by the fitting of a tracking device. “Most tracking devices interface with engine management and other systems, and it is here that you can create problems.
“The beauty of the Tracker system is that through our own technology, we have only two wires to connect before the vehicle is protected, and neither of these wires interferes with engine management computers or any other electrical system.”
Apart from warranty claims from dealers and manufacturers, other potential grey areas for tracking and recovery devices are insurance claims. “Who carries the liability, whether or not the vehicle is under warranty, if a poorly fitted tracking system causes electronic failure in a vehicle that leads to an accident?”
Comments Tracker national insurance manager Michael Nieuwoudt, “The situation becomes more complex if the vehicle is under warranty. If the fitment of a tracking device causes a breakdown, does it become a warranty repair or not?
“The bad news is that if it can be shown the fault was as a result of the tracking system, the manufacturer could refuse to pick up the tab for repairs. Then comes the issue of whether the fitment or tracking company is liable.”
Mr Nieuwoudt adds that insurance companies are increasingly insisting that owners fit tracking devices, but are not cognisant of the potential dangers inherent in the installation of such systems. “Vehicle manufacturers also carry huge public liability in terms of defects and product recall; but they do not cover after market fitments.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:17.1 1st February, 2004
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