Crime stats on the rise in an underinsured South Africa

29 September 2015 Helen du Toit, Santam
Helen du Toit, head: Audit and Forensic Services at Santam.

Helen du Toit, head: Audit and Forensic Services at Santam.

In response to the latest crime statistics released today by the South African Police Services, South Africa's largest short-term insurer, Santam, has said collaboration and partnerships between the Police and a host of business stakeholders is crucial in the fight against crime. Santam is involved in a number of partnerships to reduce economic crime and raise awareness around crime and crime prevention.

Amongst some of the more startling stats reported today were the 14.2% increase in car hijackings and the 8.5% increase in robberies with aggravating circumstances. The statistics released mirror trends identified in Santam’s own claims data for 2014/2015 which have shown:

o A 21% increase in reported commercial vehicle hijacking claims
o A 21% increase in reported household robbery claims (theft by use of force or violence)
o A 19% decrease in domestic house breaking claims (breaking and entering a property)
o A 13% decrease in the theft of private vehicles
o A 13% increase in reported business robbery claims
o A 4% decrease in reported commercial vehicle theft claims

“The alarming increase in the reported incidence of domestic and business break-ins and the frequency of hijackings remains a big concern,” says Helen du Toit, head: Audit and Forensic Services at Santam.

“While the promotion of safety awareness and the adoption of effective crime prevention strategies are helping to save lives and deter criminals, more needs to be done,” says du Toit.

Du Toit explained that Santam has been working alongside entities such as the South African Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB), the SAPS and other stakeholders on numerous initiatives aimed at raising awareness around crime and crime prevention. Santam’s Economic Crime Forums (ECF) in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban has over the past five years achieved positive results in terms of the innovative work done to reduce economic crime in partnership with the SAPS, the Asset Forfeiture Unit, SAICB, the criminal justice system and with other insurers. Examples of this work include insurance fraud training to SAPS and the NPA and removal of blockages experienced in the investigation processes.

According to Du Toit, underinsurance is still common, “in the face of these troubling statistics and the detrimental impact on the people and economy of South Africa we recommend that consumers make sure that they are adequately insured against the growing risk of criminal acts. Aside from psychological trauma associated with burglaries and hijackings there is also the risk of an unforeseen financial setback.”

“When it comes to protecting assets, the focus should be on maintaining the right insurance cover whether this be for personal possessions or assets associated with a business enterprise,” maintains du Toit. In terms of house burglaries many of the claims received by Santam relate to theft of electronic equipment such as TV’s, computers and cell phones as well as jewellery items. Claims against the theft of cash and moveable electronic goods have been more prevalent in business break-ins.

The theft of such items or the loss of a vehicle or delivery truck due to theft can have a detrimental outcome for a family or business. Specific policies to cover such unforeseen losses can offset the financial loss and cost to a business when it comes to business continuity. Policyholders are encouraged to ensure that valuable items are specified, particularly when it comes to moveable assets – and to ensure that they have sufficient cover in place when it comes to their household or business insurance.

Santam regularly shares advice and valuable safety tips with consumers and business owners, encouraging policyholders to take all necessary precautions to avoid becoming victims of crime. To this end, Santam launched the Santam App with Be Safe earlier this year, which allows family members and friends to see where their loved ones are located at a specific time. The app will also notify family or friends via a sms alert once you arrive at your destination. More than 34 000 people have downloaded the app since March of this year.

In promoting increased safety, Santam along with other industry groups and suppliers offer discounts on vehicle anti-theft devices such as gear-locks, immobilisers and tracking devices. Such measures can also help consumers save on their vehicle policy premiums.

“The adoption of a more vigilant approach to crime awareness and securing assets and possessions via the appropriate insurance cover can reduce the debilitating impact of criminal incidents within our communities but the responsibility towards combatting crime remains a shared one”, says du Toit.

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