Big SA insurers face R4bn in claims from 500 virus-hit firms

Small businesses are counting on their business interruption cover to help them survive the crisis.
Image: Reuters

Virus-related claims from just over 500 small South African firms battling insurers who have rejected them are worth up to R4 billion ($232 million), the firm representing the businesses has calculated.

Loss adjustment firm Insurance Claims Africa (ICA) is pushing a host of big South African insurers including Santam , Old Mutual, Hollard and HIC Underwriting Managers to make payouts under business interruption policies sold to its clients.

They are firms in the hospitality and tourism industry now on the cusp of closure after virus restrictions bought their businesses to a standstill.

Faced with national lockdowns, unprecedented during peacetime, small businesses around the world have turned to their insurers hoping such business interruption policies will cover losses and help them survive the crisis.

But in countries including Britain and the United States some of these claims have been rejected, prompting lawsuits or forcing regulators to step in to the fray.

Ryan Woolley, ICA CEO, told journalists on Wednesday that its calculations showed their claims amounted to be between R3.5 billion and R4 billion in total, though it had offered the relevant insurers reduced amounts to settle the matter.

“We will continue to discuss it with all the insurers,” he continued, though he said ICA would definitely launch legal action against Santam and HIC and could do the same against several others.

Santam and Old Mutual did not immediately provide a comment. HIC and Hollard did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.

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