Cyclops puts cheap insurance within sight

THE problem of finding insurance for high-risk vehicles at reasonable rates, which even some insurers have described as ridiculous, may be eased by the adoption of clear rules for vehicle security by insurance companies.

Insurance for theft-prone vehicles may be more easily obtained under a new system of compulsory car security installations adopted by Winterthur Swiss Insurance Asia.

Most insurance companies do not specify a particular make of alarm, but Winterthur has put its weight behind the Cyclops alarm and immobiliser.

The Swiss insurer now demands that all high-risk vehicles insured with the company are fitted with the Cyclops alarm and immobiliser, and advises other clients with lower-risk cars to install the anti-theft system.

The insurance group will consider requests for insurance coverage that it would otherwise have turned down, provided the Cyclops alarm system is fitted.

Cyclops is available to Automobile Association members for $3,800 and to other buyers for $4,700.

Mr Randolph Wein, managing director of Winterthur, said: ''We are very confident in the Cyclops system. We believe we can offer our insurance as a better deal with this system, especially for established clients''.

The company does not offer any discount for cars fitted with the approved alarm, but Mr Wein is confident motorists will approve of the rates.

''We do not call it discounting, but you will see if you compare our rates in the market, especially with the leaders in the market, our rates are more favourable''.

All S-class Mercedes-Benz and BMW 5 and 7-series cars insured with the company, and all vehicles worth more than $500,000 must be fitted with the Cyclops security system.

Less expensive and less theft-prone vehicles were not compelled to to be fitted with the Cyclops system, but Mr Wein said it was advisable.

''For the other classes of vehicle we make a strong recommendation. We want to make sure the car does not leave the place where it was parked.'' Ivor Metlitzky, director of Dynamico, maker of the Cyclops security system, described his company's product as a significant advance on the present generation of immobilisation systems.

''It is a sophisticated system, it is a low cost system, and we believe it to be the most secure system available,'' he said.

James Middleton, director of Management Answers Company, the Hong Kong distributor of Cyclops, said that of the 30,000 cars in Australia fitted with the Cyclops system only three had been reported stolen.

In two of those cases, it was proven in court that the owners had attempted to defraud the insurers, and the third vehicle was stolen as a result of the owners negligence.

The strength of the updated Cyclops Ultra Fibre Optic (UFO) system lay in its advanced electronics and use of light as a message carrier, Mr Metlitzky said.

''The thief can spend two days trying to locate the connection between the alarm and the immobiliser and, even when the fibre optic cable is found and cut, the car will not start without the correct light pulse code.'' It is claimed that the Cyclops UFO is also immune to code-grabbing, a form of car theft in which sophisticated thieves use a special device to read the code as the owner primes the system and leaves the vehicle.

The code is played back when the owner is out of sight and the vehicle opens without the need for the thief to break in.

Mr Wein said all vehicles fitted with the Cyclops UFO would be considered for insurance coverage by Winterthur.

''We would consider a new client with no other insurance business. Although this policy is especially favourable to existing clients, we feel a certain obligation to existing customers''.