An empowered answer to insurance

07 February 2005 Simon Phage

A new insurance company, which brings truly Black-empowered insurance products to the South African market, has been launched. Unity Insurance Limited is a 49.9% Black-owned enterprise that offers a full set of short-term insurance products and caters for

Shareholders in Unity Insurance that are Black-owned or that represent the interests of Black clients include Amalgum Investment Twenty, Assupol Life, Embomini Holdings, MBF Investments, Motse Capital and Mpande Investment Holdings, while the controlling stake of 50.1% is held by Auto & General's holding company, Telesure Investment Holdings.

CEO of Unity Insurance, Simon Phage, says that in terms of the Financial Sector Charter, and the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act (Act Nr. 53 of 2003), financial services companies must achieve 25% Black ownership by 2008.

"We're delighted to enter the market well ahead of this target with a range of insurance products to cover the needs of all South Africans," he says.

"Unity Insurance is committed to transformation within the short-term insurance industry and to increasing the participation of Black businesspeople in the financial sector. This approach is reflected in our clearly defined, well-implemented empowerment policy," Phage says.

In developing its empowerment policy, he explains that the company took into account the Employment Equity Act, the Financial Sector Charter, as well as the right to equality advocate in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.

Phage notes that Unity Insurance is following an empowerment model that requires real contributions from all shareholders. "We believe this is an example of real empowerment that allocates shareholding on the basis of performance. Each shareholder is obliged to participate meaningfully in the company - no tokenism or window dressing is entertained," he explains.

"We believe in creating employment equity to produce a diverse workforce representative of South African demographics, with the understanding that diversity brings strength and depth to our workforce," says Phage.

Unity Insurance has introduced a 360-degree lifestyle solution, adding refreshing innovation and value to the South African short-term landscape.

Its portfolio of traditional policies consists of the following cover:

Motor Comprehensive, Balance of Third Party Fire and Theft, Third Party Only, Off-Road Comprehensive and Motorcycle; Home Contents; Buildings; Portable Possessions; Trailer; Caravan; Loose Contents of Caravan; Watercraft. These lifestyle products can be purchased on either stand-alone or package combination basis.

Each insurance package automatically includes a Siyabonga Bonus which pays the client back in cash either 25% of premiums paid over the term or the entire first year's premiums - whichever is the lesser - after four years of claim-free, uninterrupted insurance.

He notes that because it is taking its products to market through a national network of brokers, the company is implementing the vision of broad-based empowerment, rather than concentrating wealth in the hands of an elite few.

"Through an active programme of partnering and training emerging Black brokers, Unity intends to broaden the participation of the previously disadvantaged in the financial services industry."

While providing its products to all individuals in South Africa through its national network of brokers, Phage says Unity Insurance is also geared to address government and parastatal markets.

"Unity's strategic positioning enables it to source and service business across the entire scope of generation channels, including direct sales, extensive national broker networks and a broad base of affinity partners," he adds.

As a subsidiary of Auto & General's holding company, Telesure Investment Holdings (one of the most successful providers of short term insurance solutions in South Africa), Unity Insurance is backed by over two decades of experience. It also benefits from the world-class technologies and best practices that underpin Auto & General.

"We believe our strength and prospects for growth are based on a fine balance between people, innovative products and services, competitive pricing and state-of-the-art technology. The successful combination of these factors enables us to address the market's requirements for complete, personalised and cost-effective insurance solutions," Phage concludes.

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