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Insurers applaud statistics showing decrease in property and vehicle related crime

27 September 2011 Santam
Louise Pharo: Head of Commercial Lines

Louise Pharo: Head of Commercial Lines

Shehnaz Somers: Head of Personal Lines

Shehnaz Somers: Head of Personal Lines

Increase in crimes against business remains a concern

Santam, South Africa’s leading short-term insurer today said that the overall decrease in crime reported for South Africa in the period April 2010 to March 2011, compared to the previous years, is encouraging.

The company said that although property related crime (which includes burglary at residential and non-residential premises and theft of vehicles in the absence of the victims) accounted for 25.8% of all reported serious crimes during this period, the remarkable decreases of -11, 3% in motor vehicle theft and -4.8% in burglary at residential premises was promising.

These statistics are noteworthy for the insurance industry and for us, as the biggest insurer of car and household insurance. Industry bodies such as the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) and the Insurance Crime Bureau have been pivotal in decreasing vehicle theft by putting pressure on motor manufacturers to improve vehicle security measures. We have been advising our clients to manage their risks proactively to ensure that their assets are safe. We hope that the consistent decline we recorded in motor claims over the past few years, decreasing by an average of 3% in the last year, is an indication that our clients have acknowledged our advice by implementing safety measures to protect their assets,” says Shehnaz Somers, Head of Personal Lines at Santam.

Not only do safety measures increase the safety of vehicles and homes and make it harder for criminals to take advantage of them, they also lower insurance premiums for policyholders. “The decline in motor claims we have observed in the last year has allowed us to offer our policyholders lower premiums, a benefit that comes with adopting proactive risk management behaviour,” continues Somers.

The insurer said it is confident that South Africans are starting to take steps to mitigate risks such as car theft and burglaries by taking simple measures such as fitting tracking devices or gearlocks in vehicles and installing enough safety measures for their homes such as alarms, safety gates and burglar bars.

The increase in crimes against businesses remains a concern for Santam, which also offers commercial insurance for both large and small businesses. The report showed that for the period between April 2010 and March 2011, business robbery increased by 0.9%.

Whilst various business groupings and associations such as Business Against Crime have indicated a decrease in business robberies, smaller businesses remain vulnerable to crime. Accounting for 22.7% of overall robberies against businesses, Spaza’s (township shops) and Tuck shops remain the hardest hit by robberies. These smaller enterprises are targeted as they mainly run their stores on a cash basis.

“The bigger businesses are fortunate enough to adopt risk mitigating strategies such as on-site cameras and tightened security but single and start-up business owners remain vulnerable to having assets such as cash on the premises, computers, cell phones and other small items that can easily be informally traded by robbers,” says Louise Pharo, Head of Commercial Lines at Santam.

Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, confirmed the difficulty in managing the robberies leveled against small business but announced that a National Small Business Robbery Strategy, which would be finalised by the end of the year, would be rolled out nationally to combat the problem.

Santam welcomes the announcement by the Minister: “Working together, insurers and civil society, in partnership with government and the police force, can do more to mitigate and decrease the risks posed by crime,” concludes Pharo.

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