From the Desk of the Chief Executive: Viviene Pearson

02 February 2021 South African Insurance Association

Let me start by welcoming you all to a new year, 2021. The year 2021 started off somewhat different from 2020, with an acceptance of the new ‘normal’ of working remotely, juggling a host of virtual meetings and webinars, as well as learning to use the vast array of technological applications to get our jobs done.

Overall, there is a sense of preparedness, even though most organisations may have to cope with the challenge of constantly finding new ways of engaging their teams, motivating them, and ensuring that they keep their eyes on the ball.

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to pound global economies, South Africa included, with millions of job losses suffered across the globe. To date, South Africa has registered over 1.43 million positive cases, with 1.26 million recoveries and close to 43 000 deaths. This is a fraction of the severity of the pandemic in other nations, like the United States, India, Brazil and even the United Kingdom. However, this does not, by any chance, make our position any better as our health system continues to buckle under the immense pressure of the pandemic. Given the unprecedented global demand for vaccine doses, combined with the far greater buying power of wealthier countries, the SA government has opted to directly negotiate with manufacturers to secure enough vaccines to reach the adult population. It is our sincere hope as business, that the government expedites the vaccination programmes with an aim to achieve the recommended herd immunity by the end of 2021.

Extreme weather pattern changes remain a challenge. On the morning of Saturday 23 January 2021, cyclone Eloise hit Mozambique's Sofala coastal province before weakening and heading inland to dump rain on Zimbabwe, Eswatini and SA. The severe winds and heavy rains wrecked thousands of buildings, ruined crops and displaced almost 7,000 people in Mozambique, leaving behind close to 15 people dead. Cyclone Eloise is hailed the strongest cyclone to hit this part of the continent, since cyclone Kenneth in 2019. The frequency of such extreme weather occurrences, including extensive drought periods, costs global economies billions of dollars annually. However, it is too early to quantify the amount of damage caused by cyclone Eloise in the region. SAIA continues to participate in various global platforms and forums, as well as within national, and local government structures aimed at minimising the impact of these weather pattern changes.

The non-life insurance industry continues to settle business interruption claims and would like to reaffirm that the process of assessing and paying claims is ongoing within various SAIA member companies. SAIA members have committed to settle claims as efficiently and speedily as possible, however, it needs to be acknowledged that this process is likely to take some time to complete.

We have also noted the recent media articles around the Vehicle Salvage Database (VSD). The concerns raised by the motor body repairers and various other stakeholders who may be of the view that publishing this database will be the silver bullet to the challenges consumers face in the accident damaged vehicle buying and selling space are also noted. Whilst the VSD only contains 33% of the data while the remaining 67% of vehicles remain uninsured on our national roads, SAIA’s philosophy has always been that of collaboration and cooperation, and as such, the concerns and issues raised will be discussed and considered within SAIA structures in the coming months.

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