A flood gate of final demands were allegedly issued on Friday and on Saturday against insurance giant Santam in respect to ‘Business Interruption’ claims from insured business owners and respondents across South Africa that Santam refuse to pay out despite the insurance regulatory authority’s direction to do so.
All business owners that served Santam with final demands are prepared to take the insurer to court on a urgent basis should the insurer not assess and pay out the claims the FSCA have deemed valid in the next seven days.
This also comes in the wake of the recent of Santam’s fellow insurer Guardrisk’s loss against a Cape town restaurant in the Western Cape High court whose claim was repudiated based on the same principle that Santam has not honouredl its obligations to its clients.
Owner of Bellezar Restaurant, in Umhlanga, Duncan Heafield has said that Santam’s lack of empathy and disingenuous play on words in order repudiate his and over 2000 other Santam claimants across country wide is basically like holding a barrel of the gun against heads of those hospitality establishments trying in the current climate to purely survive.
“We have also already seen the mass effects of the carnage in the hospitality industry due to the current government regulations and Santam might as well convert our current policies into those of funeral cover as their repudiations has tantamount to putting the final nails into the coffins for already ailing and dying hospitality businesses”Heafield adds.
“’We have already seen actual suicides and closures of business take place ( not to mention mass unemployment that has ensued, and all as a direct cause of the many of the insurers dragging their feet and not treating insured fairly by paying out their righfull claims during the midst of this pandemic.
Durban Law Firm RMB Attorneys who have taken on the mammoth task of fight the 5 main insurers has confirmed that they are currently representing approx 300 claimants on a contingency basis against insurance giants that include Santam, Old Mutual, Hollard, Bryte and Gaurdrisk.
They also confirmed that he is currently in discussions with other institutions who represent another 200 claimants to combine their legal efforts against the insurers into one massive class action suit. RMB’s principal Ryan Botisis, added that the attitude and stance of the insurers is totally unsympathetic and unconscionable to the needs of their customers that have for years supported them unconditionally.
‘’Now that their clients need their cover, the insures are doing everything in their power to renege on their obligations. Our mandated clients range from fast food franchises, luxury game lodges to big restaurant and hotel groups, all who have seen their insurer let them down diabolically in their time of need” he added
The FSCA who is the regulatory body of the insurance industry has made it was very clear in their directive issued last week that insurance companies must stop coming up with lame excuses to not pay it’s claimants with valid claims.To date only OUTsurance has been proactive and paid out its Business Interruption Claims setting aside R 220 million to settle these claims.
On Friday the Prudential Authority issued a statement reiterating the FSCA’s stance that the COVID pandemic and the claims arising from it pose little systematic risk to the local insurance industry further bolstering the FSCA’s warning that the insurance industry must stop broadly rejecting claims from businesses related to the lockdown.