Claiming for damage caused by looting? Here's what you need to know.

Updated: Feb 28

The past week’s unrest has taken a profound toll on small and medium businesses in our all-important retail sector, a critical provider of employment and driver of economic activity. However, with the national cost of the past weeks unrest exceeding 50 billion rand, many business owners have turned to their insurers in hopes of reviving their critically damaged or destroyed businesses. Those business owners who have been able to purchase insurance policies to safeguard their businesses against physical loss and damage and the resultant monetary loss that flows therefrom would, at this point, be well aware that only a single South African insurer covers damage caused by civil commotion, vandalism, riots and public disorder, the state owned company; South African Special Risk Insurance Association SOC Ltd (“SASRIA”).

South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where businesses face the latent possibility of incurring loss from these special risks – and as such, SASRIA cover exists to mitigate these harms. A critical point to note, is that while business owners may not have directly sought SASRIA cover, many business insurance policies tack on SASRIA cover as an additional value offering so in the event that you do in fact, have SASRIA cover in place, here is what you’ll need to know in order to successfully claim from SASRIA:

  1. Do not waste any time. SASRIA requires notification of loss within 30 days of the loss making event, however, due to the fact that businesses are seldom insured directly with SASRIA, you must allow time for your broker to submit a claim, first to your insurer and then for the claim to later be referred to SASRIA.

  2. Gather as much information as you can, the evidence you provide will be assessed by SASRIA appointed assessors and loss adjusters so it is crucial that you be honest in all of your disclosures. It is also important to understand that while you may have suffered financial loss and damage in an event that was witnessed nation-wide, the success of your claim will still depend entirely on your ability to evidence the cause of your loss and prove that it was in fact caused by the widespread unrest.

While it is understandable that in a contracting, pandemic economy, one of the first expenses to be deemed a luxury by business owners is insurance cover – the past two weeks have vividly illustrated the ongoing importance of taking any available steps to mitigate one's own losses, even in the face of unforeseen events. Should you require any legal assistance regarding insurance and other related matters and disputes, give us a call at 010 001 2002. Authored by: Boitumelo Mpakanyane - Legal Assistant at Gittins Attorneys Incorporated.

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