Dark days – when the country goes up in smoke around me, what can I do?

It pains me to have to write this. I hope it will bring some hope to some of my clients and, to others, a sober warning about why not having insurance or going the self-insurance route may not be wise. Obviously, the loss of possessions is distressing, but these are material things and can be replaced. What causes me more distress is what the events leading up to the unprecedented looting and destruction will mean in the longer-term in terms of the disruption of people’s lives and the businesses involved.

What happened?

For those who live elsewhere, let me recap the last week in South African history: what should have been a triumph for the rule of law and the judicial system – the arresting and jailing of ex-president Zuma for contempt of the highest court in the land (the Constitutional court) – has sparked the worst unrest and civil disobedience that we have seen in our country since the years of Apartheid. I want to ask that, regardless of your background or beliefs, you hold our country and all her people up to the Light.

This is not the platform for me to unpack who is to blame and consider the deep roots of what lead to this moment. Suffice it to say that the reasons are complex. This did not ‘come out of nowhere’. The severe economic and social impact of the protracted lockdown due to the pandemic, ever-widening social and economic disparities and lack of political and fiscal will to bring about social change has created the perfect storm. And, of course, there is the matter that lit the tinder – differences in ideology, world view and opinion on dealing with State Capture and the degradation of the social fabric that this has caused as corruption seemed to go unchecked for more than a decade.

The reality is that we know who the ringleaders are. Their names have been made public. However, that does not alleviate the plight of the tens of thousands who will be going hungry tonight because their access to food stores have been destroyed.

At present, two provinces, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, have been affected. 25000 troops have been deployed in hotspots to support the South African Police Service. The rest of the country has been placed on high alert in case it spills over into other provinces.

What has been the result?

As reported on the 15th of July 2021, on the businesstech website (you can read the full article here) the chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa, Busi Mavusoof, estimates that the damages resulting from the looting and unrest of the past week amounted to more than R5 billion and counting for the retail industry alone. 200 Malls were targeted, a hundred of which were completely burnt. 800 stores were looted.

It is reported that in the economic zone in Durban, R1.5 billion in stock has been lost, and damages to property amounts to an estimated R15 billion. In the informal sector, 50,000 informal traders and 40,000 businesses have likely been impacted. This has placed as many as 150,000 jobs at risk, which translates to as many as 1.5 million homes that are without incomes.

There are real, immediate concerns about food security and shortages of fuel. Supply chains have been disrupted as has many critical services, including the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines.

What can I do if I am affected?

Claiming from insurance

Did you know that some short-term insurance policies will not cover any damages resulting from civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism? For this reason, the government has set up a State-Owned Enterprise, called the SA Special Risks Insurance Association (Sasria).

Sasria SOC Ltd

This the only non-life insurer that provides special risk cover to all individuals and businesses that own assets in South Africa, as well as government entities. Through your regular insurance company, you can access Sasria cover for an additional fee. This is a voluntary add-on service.

Here is the uncomfortable rub

Larger, respected insurance companies will add Sasria cover as a matter of course. BUT! A number of the smaller (and cheaper) insurance companies that focus on servicing the do-it-yourself market may not automatically do so!

This is the case for both vehicle and house insurance. They may not tell you this. Their defense would be that you did not ask for it. In order to provide you with cheaper cover, something always has to be cut. Unfortunately, this may be Sasria cover.

Businesses cover

Small businesses often struggle with cashflow and have to make difficult decisions about what kind of insurance they can afford. Many may think that events, such as those we have just witnessed, are not likely to happen often. However, if you need to do deliveries in an area where protests happen because people are unhappy about service delivery from a particular municipality and your vehicle is damaged or your stock is stolen, your short-term insurance will not cover it.

In the event of civil unrest, Sasria covers businesses for loss or damage to:

  • Material damage
  • Loss of money (think your petty cash)
  • Goods in Transit
  • Vehicles
  • Business interruption
  • Construction risk

Here is the uncomfortable rub for businesses

Although most business owners have Sasria cover, the do-it-yourself client may find that their lack of knowledge can cost them dearly.

The expensive lessons:

  1. You are putting your personal and business financial position at risk by not including Sasria cover – just because you think it is not ‘likely’ that you will need it.
  1. Even though Sasria cover is ‘usually’ added on to your insurance by your broker, you need to still have to make sure it is in place.

You are not an island

It has been a trying time for the people of our country. None of us could even imagine dealing with a pandemic, and yet, more than a year later, we are still living with restrictions necessitated by a third wave. When COVID-19 struck it seemed impossible for things to get any worse.

You may feel defeated and unsure of what to believe. You do not have to do this on your own. Surround yourself with people who are knowledgeable and are aligned with your vision of the life you want to live. Speak to an accredited Financial Advisor who can help you protect yourself and those you care about.

Now do something for others

Once you are secure and knowledgeable, pass the correct information on. Don’t stop there though. Look outside of your bubble. The taxi associations are pulling together to protect malls from looters. How can you contribute to ensuring that someone, somewhere can feed their families tonight?

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