Insurers pitch in to cover Cape disaster costs

Johannesburg - Several insurers have started processing claims for the damage caused by the Cape storm and Knysna fires, this is in addition to corporates which have set up funds to aid those in need.

The storm, described as the worst natural disaster in the Western Cape for 30 years, and Knysna fires have resulted in a rising death toll, displacements and damage and loss to property.

Up to 20 suburbs were affected by the fire and more than 10 000 people were evacuated by late Thursday, Fin24 reported.

Several banks and corporates have donated funds to support victims. Banks FNB, ABSA and Standard Bank donated R10m each.

READ: Banks, big business give millions for Knysna fire victims

ABSA also donated 5 600 tents, while FNB opened the doors of all of its branches and corporate buildings in the affected areas as drop-off points for public donations of relief supplies.

Standard Bank’s teams in the area have been rallying drives for donations of food and blankets and are offering alternative accommodation for the displaced, said chief executive Ben Kruger. The bank’s insurance teams have also been assisting with claim requirements.

Short-term insurer Santam had received in excess of 1000 claims by Friday. The 24/7 call centre had been receiving calls related to claims since Tuesday, said Fanus Coetzee, head of claims adjustment services.

Santam had deployed its whole Western Cape team and contracted additional resources to assist with claims processing. “The majority of the damage is wind related although we do have some water damage claims as well,” he said.

Santam has also deployed a team to deal with larger structure losses, such as roofs being blown off and collapsed buildings. Manageable claims have been treated on a digital basis, managed by desk-based assessors in Johannesburg, he said.

As for the Knysna fires, Santam had in excess of 40 complete losses of houses, which is in excess of R300m, said Coetzee. A temporary office was set up in Knysna with a 24/7 call centre. Santam deployed a catastrophe team to the site.

“We have an arrangement where if content is insured with Santam, R50 000 is deposited into the client bank account for essentials like school clothing, food, and [so that] alternative accommodation can be secured,” he explained.

Santam donated R1m to support disaster relief in the Western Cape. This is part of Santam’s disaster management support in a number of municipalities nationally, explained Coetzee.

Our first priority is to help people find alternative accommodation in the interim and get bare essentials. Then we will start a process of support with clients, in rebuilding homes,” he said.

Alexander Forbes Insurance had received 37 claims by Friday. Of the claims, estimates of the damage were under R1m for the storm and R22m for the fire. Damage from the storm had been more superficial compared to the extensive damage caused by the fire, a spokesperson explained.

Discovery Insure has deployed a special disaster team to assist clients on the ground, said chief executive Anton Ossip. This is in addition to repositioning assessors across the country to the affected areas to process claims. Following the disasters, Discovery Insure offered emergency accommodation for the displaced.

The insurer had sent out warning SMSs to clients ahead of the storm in an effort to minimize damage, explained Ossip.

Discovery Insure is also supporting non-government organisations which are supplying necessities to those affected as well as firefighters in the region, this includes a R750 000 donation to Gift of the Givers. The insurer also made a financial commitment to the Western Cape Disaster Fund and has extended an invitation for members to make contributions.

A poll ran by Fin24 on Friday indicated that of the 57 users who voted, only 2% said their damaged property was covered by insurance. 

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