Following the looting that took place during the civil unrest of mid-July in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, insurance experts advise that claimants ensure they have proof of damage or loss or destruction of stock, to ensure they are able to submit claims within the 30-day threshold.
During a webinar hosted by the Durban Chamber of Commerce and the Graduate Institute of Financial Services on July 23, Insurance Institute of Gauteng executive committee member Carla Jordan said claims related to the unrest would be processed by the relevant insurance companies and brokers and filed to State-owned South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria).
Private insurance companies cannot pay out for damages and losses incurred as a result of rioting, with Sasria having the sole mandate to fulfil such claims.
This means that any claimant will have needed to be covered by Sasria prior to the unrest to be able to claim from the association.
She explained that Sasria appoints private sector insurance companies to act as its agents, and that insurance brokers will subsequently issue Sasria coupons and collect Sasria premiums, to be paid over to Sasria for such cover to take effect.
In that way, Jordan said, insurance brokers are classified as intermediaries in the Sasria cover process.
In terms of the recent unrest and claims thereto, she said insurance brokers had been given a mandate from Sasria to expedite and settle claims up to a certain amount.
Sasria insurance operations executive manager Fareedah Benjamin confirmed that this threshold was currently R50 000, a figure that should help to accelerate the processing of and payment of small claims to help individuals get items such as vehicles or windscreens repaired.
In terms of further mandates, she said Sasria was in negotiations with insurance companies, about the processing of larger claims. Sasria indicated that it was able to give a mandate of R1-million on commercial lines and R500 000 on personal line claims, on a claim-by-claim basis, through some of Sasria’s agent companies. This would be dependent on the insurance company’s appetite to assist in terms of settling such claims, said Benjamin.
Nonetheless, Jordan said unrest-related claims would have to follow the normal claims procedure, meaning such claims need to be lodged directly with a broker, or in cases where a broker had not been used, directly with the insurer.
Before filing a claim, she said, it was essential to ensure claimants have a claim, and in cases where a claim exists, it had to be filed within 30 days of the incident taking place.
Once a claimant verifies they have a claim, it is important to gather the relevant documentation and register a case with the South African Police Service to get a case number.
Jordan added that it was also important to start gathering any documentation or evidence to substantiate a claim, such as photos, stock records and yearly financial statements.
In this regard, Marsh Africa sales and distribution MD Zuriel Naicker said that, in terms of the documentation required, there would be a communication from Sasria coming out later on July 23 stating what documentation it needs.
He said it was essential that accurate and complete information be provided to insurance companies.
As for supporting documents, he said these would help to substantiate any proof of loss or damage that could help the insurer or Sasria expediate pay-outs.
These could include financial statements, photos (preferably before and after), drone footage showing the extent and enormity of the loss, as well as newspaper articles illustrating the localised impact of the unrest.
Naicker added that closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage was also helpful. In many instances, he said, family-operated businesses that do not have security guards rely on CCTV as a first line of defence.