SAIA Bulletin: From the Desk of the Chief Executive: Viviene Pearson

03 June 2020 SAIA


From the Desk of the Chief Executive: Viviene Pearson

For the past seventy (70) days, the global village has been experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on socio-economic activities. Almost the entire world came to a standstill in the months of March and April 2020 as each country concentrated on ensuring that their citizens survive the deadly virus that was spreading through the world like a wildfire. In the process, the economic standstill has claimed thousands of companies that were economically active during the pre-COVID-19 era, while millions of jobs stand to be lost.
South Africa went into a full national lockdown on 26 March 2020 and, like other countries, suffered immensely because of the need by the government to find that fine balance between continued economic activity and loss of lives. As most of the economy grounded to a halt, including any inter-provincial travel, the government began a painstaking process of understanding the local strain of the pandemic while also mobilising health resources in hospitals in a bid to slow down the rate of infections across our nine provinces. During that period, our economy experienced an unprecedented choke, which has heavily impaired various industries and dented our gross domestic product (GDP).
This balancing act has been a challenge, not only for us as South Africa, but also for other countries in the developing and the developed world. As our country slowly emerges from the clutches of severe lockdown alert levels, it got its first taste of Alert Level 3 on 1 June 2020. This will also mean that the economy is further opened to many more industries and a lot more people will be allowed movement from their homes to their workplaces, and back. We are pleased by this gradual re-opening of our economy, and we hope that South Africans of all walks will continue to observe health protocols introduced by Government to help preserve lives. We must also remember that our State President, Cyril Ramaphosa, emphatically made it clear that the fight against this invisible enemy was now in the hands of all South Africans.
To date, South Africa’s financial services sector has suffered income losses running into billions of rands. While this is so, the sector has remained steadfast in its support for the government’s decision to impose a nation-wide lockdown while also coming up with a myriad of debt and premium relief measures aimed at assisting Government, SMMEs and policyholders through COVID-19 related financial challenges. As the non-life insurance industry, we have remained sympathetic to the financial wellbeing of all our stakeholders, collectively pledging around R1.4 billion in relief funding within six weeks of the declaration of the national disaster. The funding was available for the provision of relief through premium reductions, premium deferrals as well as direct support to insurance industry business partners and Government initiatives.
We would like to further encourage policyholders who continue to experience financial difficulty due to COVID?19, and the national lockdown to speak to their financial intermediary (broker) or insurer, who are prepared to do their utmost to assist customers in good standing, on a case by case basis.
Viviene Pearson
SAIA Chief Executive
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