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Hollard to assist SMEs through COVID-related payments

27 July 2020 Hollard

The Hollard Insurance Group, one of South Africa’s leading short-term insurers, today confirmed that it would provide financial relief to qualifying small and medium businesses with contagious disease extensions to their business interruption policies with the insurer.

This follows Hollard’s proposal to regulators to provide financial respite to more than one thousand such businesses across all industry sectors, in attempting to alleviate some of the financial burden created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a notice sent to its brokers, Hollard acknowledged the severe economic damage caused by the national lockdown regulations, and their particularly devastating effect on smaller businesses. Willie Lategan, CEO of the insurer’s short-term business unit, acknowledged the complexity of business interruption cover, and highlighted Hollard’s recognition of its responsibility to pay all valid claims while maintaining a sustainable, stable and financially sound business for the good of all its policyholders.

“We remain of the view that nationwide government closures or lockdowns are not insurable risks and we believe that legal certainty regarding lockdown-related claims is urgently required. However, like the regulators, we are cognisant of the fact that this legal process is likely to take some time, and we’re concerned that many smaller businesses will be unable to survive until legal certainty is established,” said Lategan. “We are thus making these payments now, irrespective of the outcome of the legal process.”

“As the group of people who make up Hollard, we recognise the fear, pain and heartache experienced by so many of our fellow South Africans in this extremely difficult time. This spurred us on to move beyond policy wordings and legal processes in order to support the small business sector and hopefully save many jobs in doing so.

The insurer said that it will be easing some of its claims requirements to enable quicker payment to businesses that have sustained material losses over the lockdown period. The relief provided will be subject to clear criteria and maximum payment amounts, and will be offset against any potential further claims liabilities established through court processes. Lategan also confirmed that Hollard would proactively extend the scope of the relief to all businesses whose policies included the extension, and not just those that had already submitted claims.

“We continue to engage with the regulators in dealing with this unprecedented situation,” said Lategan. “We are confident that the process we’re following will ensure the correct balance between providing policyholder relief and establishing certainty through an urgent legal process.”

“Throughout this pandemic, we have endeavoured to enable more people to create and secure a better future and, while this constitutes the largest of those efforts, it is part of a holistic contribution” continued Lategan. “This includes donations to the Solidarity Fund, made both at a company level and through salary sacrifices by Hollard’s Board members, Executives, and other Hollard employees, as well as the donation of containerised COVID-19 testing stations for use in COVID-19 hotspots. Policyholders have been assisted through premium discounts and cover enhancements, while suppliers have been assisted through accelerated payments and direct financial assistance. Employees have been provided with financial assistance and counselling where required, while being enabled to work from home.”

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