Absa waives excess payments for flood-hit customers in KZN

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Heavy rain in parts of KwaZulu-Natal has resulted in widespread flooding, collapsing roads and death.
Heavy rain in parts of KwaZulu-Natal has resulted in widespread flooding, collapsing roads and death.
Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Absa, one of South Africa's largest banks and financial services groups, is waiving excesses for flood-related claims to provide relief for its customers affected by the disaster is KwaZulu-Natal.

"Given that we have a crisis, it will be not prudent as people deal with [losses suffered owing to flooding] and then also worry about excesses," Faisal Mkhize, managing executive for relationship banking at Absa Retail and Business Bank, told Fin24 on Monday.

"Some of the waivers that we've implemented is to allow people to go through the claim processes as easily as possible, where we take away some of these costs that are associated with insurance claims. That is one of the things that we're doing and it's deliberate, because we think we need to be treating the current situation as abnormal," he said. 

The waived excess fees are likely to amount to millions of rands, Mkhize said, although he noted it is early days yet as claims are expected to still pour in the days and weeks ahead.

On Monday night President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that a national state of disaster has been declared in the wake of the floods that have claimed the lives of 443 people to date. Nearly 4 000 homes have been completely destroyed and around 40 000 people have been displaced. Critical infrastructure, including the Port of Durban, schools, courts and police stations have been affected. 

"The damage caused to businesses in the area have not been fully quantified, but assessments so far suggest that the Ethekwini metro accounts for nearly half of all the reported damage," Ramaphosa said.

Holding hands

In recent days, Absa has received 2 000 claims nationally with 1 634 of those being in KwaZulu-Natal.

"My reading of this is that we are going to still see an uptick in terms of claims because some people are in hospital, or are figuring out how to just find shelter," Mkhize said. "The bottom line is that we are committed to this, to ensure we can hold hands with our clients as they navigate this very painful and unthinkable situation." 

Mkhize said it is especially devastating for those businesses, and the employees dependent on them, which has only just begun to recover from the impact of riots and looting that gripped the province in July last year.  

In anticipation of a capacity constraint on the ground, Absa has sent a dedicated team to KwaZulu-Natal to respond to an influx of claims and ensure backlogs are avoided.

The bank has also earmarked R8 million for community relief efforts and another R2 million dedicated to provide relief for Absa employees impacted by the disaster.

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