Insuring Your Sat-Nav

Motorists who are using a sat-nav system in their vehicle need to be aware of the category of insurance in which their system would be classed.

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The cost of motor insurance claims has increased due to a rise in SatNav theft. The average cost of a vehicle break-in continues to rise, with a high percentage of motorists now specifically claiming to replace stolen items such as Satellite Navigation systems. As many as 15% of vehicle owners leave their valuables in full view.

Some individuals are not so sensible when it comes to the latest in-car gadgets. Though they may hide their SatNav devices in the glove compartment, they leave tell-tale signs of owning these devices, such as the SatNav stand stuck to the dashboard. Raising awareness and Educating Customers is key in combating this problem.

Check your motor policy for clarification and to ensure you are covered should the system be stolen from your vehicle. A recent question posed by a UK insurer to the Financial Ombudsman Services (FOS) asked:

Question: “Should satellite navigation equipment be considered as ‘personal possessions’ under a domestic contents policy – or as a ‘vehicle tool’ under a motor policy”? The reply from the FOS was as given below:

Answer: We’ve seen only a very few cases to date involving insurance cover for satellite navigation (‘satnav’) equipment, although we are getting an increasing number of enquiries about it.

It is for insurers – not us – to define the nature and scope of their cover. If insurers state clearly that they do not cover satnav equipment, that is a commercial underwriting decision and not a matter in which we would intervene.

In the few complaints we have seen to date involving satnav equipment, we have taken what we believe to be the common-sense view, where it has been unclear whether the device was covered under the contents or the motor policy. This is that if the device can only be used – and is only used – in a car, then (unless the insurer can establish a valid reason why not) it should be covered under the motor policy.

However, a device that can be used – and has been used – outside the car (for example, by walkers using it as a ‘GPS’ – global positioning system) should normally be covered as a ‘personal possession’ under a domestic contents policy – unless the insurer can establish a valid reason why this isn’t appropriate.

In cases where an insurance policy fails to make clear which items are covered and which are excluded, we apply the interpretation most favourable to the customer, on the basis that the customer did not draft the contract. This is a long-established approach to the interpretation of unclear or ambiguous contract terms – set out both in common law and statutory regulations (for example, the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999).

We believe it important that insurers adapt to advances in technology and new consumer trends – and ensure their policies are updated regularly to define clearly the scope of the cover they offer.

Any changes to existing cover should, of course, be highlighted when the policy is renewed, so there are no nasty surprises for customers in the event of a claim.

Source: Financial Ombudsman News Service.