Discovery data: People starting to drive more, but Gauteng still cautious

Days of standstill traffic might not yet be in sight. But Discovery Insure says its clients are driving more now.
Days of standstill traffic might not yet be in sight. But Discovery Insure says its clients are driving more now.
  • Discovery Insure released its customers' driving data, showing the kilometres they drove during different stages of the lockdown.
  • Its business insurance customers drove 58% of their pre-lockdown milage by mid-July.
  • But clients driving their cars for personal usage are still driving less than half of what they used to and so are customers based in Gauteng.

People are starting to drive more, an indication that some normalcy is returning in South Africa to give the economy much-needed consumer expenditure.

According to data published by Discovery's short-term insurance arm, Discovery Insure on Monday, its business insurance clients drove about 58% of the mileage they used to in July. When the lockdown started towards the end of March, these business clients covered only 14% of the mileage they used to before the pandemic hit.

The data which Discover Insure collected from its client base in both the commercial lines – those using their cars for business purposes – and from customers who drive their cars for personal usage such as going to work and running errands, comes just two days before Statistics SA is due to release retail trade sales to confirm if economic recovery is indeed taking place.

Discovery Insure looked at driving patterns before the lockdown, between 2 and 26 March, and contrasted this with trips under Level 5 to mid-July under Level 3.

As the easing of more restrictions under Level 3 saw more businesses allowed to reopen, Discovery said its business insurance clients drove four times more than they did in lockdown Level 5, thus the recovery to 58% of their pre-lockdown milage.

However, the insurer also noted that while the re-opening boosted kilometres driven by its business customers, those driving their cars for personal usage still drove 45% of the kilometres they travelled before the lockdown between 1 June and 19 July. This was despite the fact that people were allowed to dine at restaurants again. Discovery attributed this partly to the fact that people were still encouraged to remain at home as far as possible during lockdown Level 3.

South Africa's economic hub, Gauteng, saw Discovery clients increase the distance they drove only by 46% compared to lockdown Level 4, much less than provinces like Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Free State. In the Western Cape, increased driving correlated with a spike in infections. When community infection spread was the highest, the province recorded a 70% increase in mileage driven by its residents.

Discovery Insure also noted that people who seem to be at high risk drove more when the country moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of the lockdown.

"It’s interesting to see, considering the risks identified in the general population, that drivers over the age of 50 appeared to be driving more during Level 4 and Level 3, than our younger clients. We noted an increase of 48% in mileage driven in older age groups," wrote Discovery Insure’s head of technical marketing and vitality drive engagement, Precious Nduli.

She said Discovery In surer also noted a 43% increase in males clients driving during levels 4 and 3, even though in South Africa has recorded more Covid-19 fatalities among men than women.

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