The latest article on Santam’s stance on paying COVID-19 business interruption claims has prompted a detailed response from the company, South Africa’s largest general insurer.
South Africa’s largest general insurer, Santam, has acknowledged that it is liable for business interruption claims resulting from COVID- 19 after unsuccessfully arguing that the pandemic and the lockdown response were separate events.
The reaction was prompted by an article by Africa Report. It says it will offer hospitality and leisure customers a “full and final” settlement to cover three months of losses. Yet many policyholders have cover, which they believe run for six, 12 or 18 months.
“The policyholders have, in our view, misread their contracts. “What they believe their contracts to say and what is actually written in the documents are two very different things,” says Thabo Mabaso, Santam’s head of corporate communications in Cape Town. If large numbers of policyholders are misreading their contracts, then that is a problem for Santam.
A well-established legal principle is that any ambiguity in insurance contracts must be decided in the favour of the policyholder.