Insurance Claims Africa (ICA), a specialist public loss adjustment firm, has expressed its disappointment at insurer Santam’s decision to outright reject a settlement proposal from hundreds of tourism and hospitality businesses.
These businesses had purchased BI policies that included extensions for claims arising from infectious or contagious notifiable diseases from Santam and a number of other insurers.
“COVID-19 qualifies as a declared notifiable disease, yet insurers are either rejecting the claims, or frustrating the process by making it near impossible to claim,” said ICA in a statement.
Santam has said that it will go to court to fight the claims, which ICA says may lead to a drawn-out process that will spell certain disaster for the industry, and lead to mass job losses across all sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry.
According to ICA, South Africa’s tourism and hospitality sector sustains over 740,000 direct and 1.5m indirect jobs, and contributes 8.6% to the GDP. The loss adjuster pointed out that the sector is also the lifeblood for many micro and small enterprises, creating mass employment opportunities for men, women, and youth across the country.
“A settlement would allow these vulnerable businesses to survive, and importantly, to pay their staff and operating costs. We are disappointed that Santam has turned down this sensible and responsible solution,” said ICA CEO Ryan Woolley.
“If our clients are being forced to fight this in court, we hope that Santam agrees to this being done on an urgent basis, rather than adopting a cynical and drawn out legal strategy, which will mean many of these businesses will no longer exist before any resolution is achieved. Time is of the essence. We are now waiting to hear if Santam agrees to an expedited court process.”