COVID-19: Non-life insurance (short-term) industry committed to assist

06 April 2020 The South African Insurance Association (SAIA)

The non-life insurance industry is fully committed to supporting the measures put in place by State President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, together with the Government of South Africa to protect South Africans and attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The industry plays an important role in the economy and commit to support staff, clients/policyholders and suppliers to the industry as much as possible during these difficult times.

The industry remains committed to providing the required services to its clients during this period as the insurance industry has been deemed an essential service in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

All valid and essential claims that policyholders may have will continue to be processed during this period. However, it should be understood that claims processing will be limited to the extent that the activity is classified as “essential” under the latest regulations on essential services. Any other claims will be resolved only once the lock-down ban has been lifted (for example, repair/replacement of certain insured items/assets).

Premium collection remains an integral part of ensuring both the operational sustainability of insurance companies and their ability to settle any valid insurance claims made by policyholders. However, the industry also recognises that the current circumstances are not business-as-usual, and therefore requiring a more pragmatic approach. Policyholders who experience financial difficulty due to COVID 19, and the national lock-down, are strongly encouraged to speak to their financial intermediary (broker) or insurer, who will do their utmost to assist customers in good standing on a case by case basis.

Insurance companies also appreciate the value that suppliers of goods and services provide in safeguarding the sustainability of the industry as well as services their policyholders, and therefore, the commitment to assist suppliers, in particular small businesses (SMMEs), as much as possible during these difficult times. The industry will continue to procure services from suppliers as and when they can, depending on the nature of claims received and within the provisions of the recently promulgated Regulations on the classification of essential services. Insurance companies will also expedite payments for work done to assist with the cash flow of their suppliers, whenever possible.
The sector is committed to support local industry, wherever possible, in the interest of job preservation as well as a sustainable economy.
In order to safeguard the health of the employees in the industry, insurance companies will adopt a ‘work from home’ policy, in support of the call from Government, to assist in containing the spreading of the COVID-19, except for staff that need to maintain essential services as per the Regulations published by Government.

Insurance companies will support their employees in terms of their health and safety, but also their financial sustainability without impacting the individual company’s financial stability and liquidity. Staff will be paid their salaries, including a living wage for variable paid staff whose salaries are not fixed, which may be impacted as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Insurance companies will do their utmost to preserve jobs impacted by the crisis.

Individual insurance companies have already, and will continue to, put different measures in place to assist policyholders who are impacted negatively by COVID-19 and the resultant lock-down, on a case by case basis. Policyholders are advised to look out for information on such measures or contact their broker or insurer directly for more information.

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