OLD Mutual Insure says it is working around the clock to finalise looting-related claims – which it is mandated to handle on behalf of state-owned insurance company SASRIA – within three weeks so that affected small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
“These claims are our biggest priority right now because we want to get businesses back up and running not only so that they can contribute towards the economy, but so that jobs are secure and families can put food on the table,” said Hennie Nortje, Chief Executive: Claims, Sales and Service at Old Mutual Insure.
The company has pledged R10 million towards coordinating efforts to rebuild SMEs in affected areas. It aims to have all specified cars and trucks covered in terms of the SASRIA extension assessed this week and has further committed to settle and/or make interim payments for 80% of looting-related claims within three weeks.
This announcement underpins President Ramaphosa’s message delivered on Sunday night that the government will support SASRIA in whatever way necessary to ensure that SASRIA’s commitment to expedite the payment of all valid claims is met without delay.
“We believe the best way the insurance industry can contribute to rebuilding the economy is to commit to prioritising these claims and get them processed quickly so that there are no job losses and that we ultimately help save our clients’ livelihoods,” Nortje said.
“We therefore invite all other insurers, who are working with SASRIA, to join us in publicly pledging to settle and/or make interim payments for 80% of claims by latest middle of August 2021, as well as to match our relief efforts.”
The cost of damages resulting from the unrest action on insured and non-insured businesses is yet to be determined. However, Old Mutual Insure has had an influx of claims since Monday, 12 July, and judging from past catastrophe experience, anticipates a large volume of clams to still be reported.
The company has also announced a further set of relief efforts to help SMEs, including a 30% premium reduction to specific SME customers.
“For hard-hit SMEs, especially in the leisure, tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors, a premium reduction will go a long way towards easing the financial burden – and uncertainty – that this period has imposed on vulnerable businesses.”
The SME premium relief is currently being applied to Commercial and Agri policies in qualifying occupational sectors. It will be valid in August 2021 and applies to the monthly instalment paid by SMEs on policies opened on or before 1 June 2021. Identified customers do not need to apply for the discount and will automatically qualify if they meet the criteria.
These efforts form part of a broader set of Old Mutual Insure interventions aimed at helping South African SMEs weather successive COVID-19 storms. The short-term insurer has established a R50-million relief fund to help SMEs protect and progress their businesses. To date, the fund has paid out R32 million in interest-free loans, saving about 711 jobs.
The company has also published and made available a host of free resources, including an online business toolkit, to guide and empower small businesses to operate effectively and prosper in a digital age.
On the consumer side, Old Mutual Insure has allocated over R300 million to customer premium relief to date.