Insurance Claims Africa (ICA) CEO Ryan Woolley says it is clear from new research released on July 6, that the short-term insurance industry (STI) earned record profits during the pandemic.
He states that the STI therefore has “no reason” to further delay the settlement of all outstanding Covid-19 business interruption claims.
ICA is representing over 850 claimants in their ongoing fight to receive final payments from insurers.
The research – conducted by Optimum Investment Group economic adviser Dr Roelof Botha and Gordon Institute of Business Science representative Keith Lockwood – exposes the vast disparity between the substantial financial gains achieved over the past year by short-term insurers and their customers, says ICA.
These customers/businesses are, because of the nonpayment of claims, desperate for any lifeline that will enable them to survive and retain thousands of jobs, says Woolley.
He says many such businesses have already closed, resulting in a negative impact on the economy, thereby adding to an already “alarming” unemployment rate.
According to Woolley, insurers continue to frustrate the process. “We are finding that insurers are adopting long, overly pedantic processes, and doing everything in their power, it seems, to delay payments. We are very concerned about some insurers attempting to limit the quantum that is due to policyholders yet they have been sitting on the funds for over 14 months, earning interest.
“The gross inequity of the situation is blatantly prejudicial to claimants who are still awaiting settlement more than a year after the start of the pandemic. We believe insurers are ignoring their clients’ extreme financial anguish and are underestimating the level of dissatisfaction and loss of trust from the delays in settlement,” he argues.
Woolley suggests it may not be too late for insurers to redeem themselves by finalising these claims quickly, ethically and fairly. “We are urging insurers to make interim payments to customers while they resolve the current bottlenecks within their systems that are preventing payments.”
For too long, he says, the ICA has seen claimants struggle to survive financially. “I can only hope that the board members and shareholders of these insurers are alive to the difference between their financial positions compared to that of their customers.”