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The Car Wash Conundrum: How to avoid South Africa’s latest crime trend


By: Nthabiseng Moloi, MiWay head of marketing & brand

South Africans are well aware of the perils of car theft, with crime rates continuing to soar, particularly in large metropolitan areas. But while we are vigilant when it comes to hijacking and remote jamming, crime can happen when we least expect it. Over the course of last year, car washes have become an increasingly popular target for would-be criminals, who have been able to capitalise on drivers’ relative nonchalance.

The modus operandi typically follows a similar thread: the car owner drops off the vehicle and goes shopping or runs errands for a few hours. With the car now unmanned, criminals falsely identify themselves as its owner, and drive away in plain sight.

So, before you set off on a Saturday shopping spree and leave your vehicle in the supposedly safe hands of a car wash, here are a few things you need to consider:

Take the necessary precautions
Leaving your car to be thoroughly cleaned while you shop and run errands is an admittedly irresistible plan, but checking your car in on a busy Saturday morning creates easy opportunities for opportunistic criminals. A busy mall means a flurry of customers, making it less easy for car wash owners to remember the identity of every vehicle owner.

So if you’re unable to check your car in for a wash during a less crowded time, be sure to let the car wash owner know that you will be collecting your vehicle, and that you will never let somebody else do so on your behalf. It’s also worth checking up on the car wash’s collection procedure, double checking what kind of identification is required in order to collect the vehicle.

Make sure you’re covered
Most car wash businesses do not have their own insurance in place to cover damage or theft, meaning customers essentially leave their cars in their care at their own risk. But be sure to ask. As such, it’s important that you understand the terms of your own vehicle insurance and check with your provider whether or not your cover extends to car washes. By ensuring your vehicle is covered no matter what, you’ll be able to shop till you drop with a clear conscience.

Additionally, it’s important that you understand the potential consequences of theft or damage, particularly if you’re not appropriately insured. If your car is still financed by the bank, you will not only need to replace it, but also continue to pay your existing monthly installments. Is that worth the inconvenience of giving your car a good scrub in the driveway?

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

Date Posted: 2017-08-17
Posted By: MiWay Insurance Limited
Listed under these Business Listing Categories: Financial services,

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