Safire Insurance Newsletter 2014


March 2015
Suicide on the rise
The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately one million people die from suicide each year, representing a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. What is significant locally is that the suicide rate in South Africa appears to have increased dramatically, with a 20% surge in claims arising from suicide, according to Momentum Myriad. Momentum paid out R1.9bn in death claims, with 18% of unpaid claims repudiated due to suicide. South Africa’s appalling road accident rate resulted in 49% of all unnatural deaths being claimed through life insurance in 2014, according to Momentum, with critical illness again the second largest claim category. Even though the “Big 4” (heart attack, heart bypass, cancer and stroke) accounted for 71% (down from 78% in 2013), of all the critical illness claims, 29% of claims were as a result of conditions that fall outside of these categories.
Charka synergy
Safire Insurance Company Limited recently became the major shareholder of the country’s leading charcoal and briquette manufacturer (producer of the country’s first SABS-approved charcoal), Suiderland Charka, soon to become Charka Limited. With over four decades of successful fire-making to its name, the acquisition of Charka is an interesting balance of “good fires” versus “bad fires” that destroy timber plantations – Safire’s first area of insurance back in 1987, when the company started as a timber insurance co-operative. Safire CEO Pierre Bekker says, “It is primarily this synergy between plantation insurance against fire and the salvage of burnt plantations to be used for charcoal production that caught our attention. Finding raw material to consistently supply the charcoal and briquette manufacturing process at cost-effective prices is a major constraint in this business, and we believe that the association with Safire will allow this business to expand an already prominent brand.”
To read more…
Catastrophic hail damage
The KZN Midlands has been battered by extreme hail storms in the past few weeks, and the fury of the first of these storms on 6 February 2015 was dramatic. In Pietermaritzburg, the hail was not only large in terms of the size of the individual hail stones, but the hail stones were jagged in shape, causing exceptional damage to property and vehicles. At Safire, every available resource has been applied to help process the large number of storm-related claims, and while significant progress has been made there is still some way to go. A sincere thank you to those clients and brokers who were involved, for understanding the pressures of this unusual situation. Our staff members have worked tirelessly to accommodate the additional workload and we thank them too. As we head towards the autumn-winter months we hope that such extreme weather is a thing of the past, for a while at least.

Upgrade insurance
When a home-owner undertakes an upgrade of their home or other property, it is important to reassess their short-term insurance to ensure that the various new features and improvements are covered. Experts calculate that renovations on a home can increase a house’s value by more than 20%, so the value of a property should be re-estimated. Also, before beginning work on the project, make sure that you are covered if someone is injured while working on your home or other property. Check with all building contractors that they have adequate insurance cover for workers. In addition, a contractor’s liability insurance covers the contractor for any damage to your property during the renovations.
Hijacking hints
Carjacking is the fastest growing and potentially the most dangerous of street crimes in the world today. According to USA police reports, 54% of car-jackings are by two or more attackers, 77% of the time a weapon is used, and in most instances, the weapon used is a gun. Hijackings are planned, so that ambushers are one step ahead of the startled driver. Being prepared might give drivers an advantage. Some of the most obvious things you can do are to always keep your doors locked and your windows rolled up when in "high threat" areas. Some little known tactics include:
  • Positioning side mirrors about 10 degrees further out than normal. Carjackers know the vehicle’s blind spots and how to attack from the rear without being seen. Use the rearview mirror for seeing directly behind, and side mirrors for seeing further away from the vehicle.
To read more
Why claims are rejected #11

The rights of consumers in South Africa are protected by the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance, who provides an independent, fair and cheap dispute-resolution service to those contesting decisions made by their insurance company. The latest in our series of why claims might be rejected is not revealing to your broker that your vehicle will be used for business purposes. Non-disclosure might result in a claim being repudiated. Insurers seldom overload the costs of cover in this case so honesty is the best policy.

Scottish shock
Fire damage
Truffle trophy
There must have been an outcry in Scotland when Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, supposedly the world’s leading whisky authority, voted the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, made in Japan, as the best whisky in the world. After researching a staggering
4 700 different whiskies from around the world, Jim Murray, who compiles the Whisky Bible, scored the Yamazaki at 97.5 points out of 100, describing it as “near incredible genius”. Murray accuses the Scottish whisky industry of having “begun to believe their own PR hype” and having “taken their eye off the ball”, ignoring changes “which have altered the face of whisky”.

While on the subject of alcoholic beverages, a possible side effect of the tragic fires that have caused so much destruction of property and tragic death in Cape Town recently, is the potential influence of the fires on future grape crops and the resulting impact on wines produced from these grapes. According to, “The problems lie with the black grapes used to make red wine. Smoke covered pretty much all the vineyards in Constantia and Cape Point at some point, and that smoke can give unwanted flavours to the wine such as burnt toast, smoked fish, ashtray and other unpleasant tastes”.

Truffles are a rare and very costly delicacy, highly prized by connoisseurs across the globe. Gram for gram, truffles are the world’s most expensive food, with a white truffle costing up to $3600 a pound in Europe. Truffle harvests across the world are down this year yet global demand by truffle fans remains high, resulting in this fungi being traded much like an illicit drug or illegal diamonds. Now a valuable black truffle mushroom, the so-called “black diamond” of the truffle industry and the first in South Africa, has been discovered at a farm in KZN, spawning interest in local truffle production.

Double eclipses

On the morning of 20 March 2015, Europeans were able to watch a partial solar eclipse. The ESA Sun-watching Proba-2 mini-satellite, which orbits the earth every 100 minutes, was able to record two examples of the eclipse, as shown here....

Economic Tidbits
Economic Tidbits
Economic Tidbits
• R157 billion – the estimated national health expenditure for this year, a 9% rise on last year.

• R450 000 – insurance premiums for obstetricians and gynaecologists this year. Government faces contingency liabilities of R25 billion for medical malpractice lawsuits, according to the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development.

• R15 billion – what Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is hoping to release from the financial surplus of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). He has suggested temporarily reducing employer and employee contributions to the UIF to do this.

• 11% - the percentage of taxpayers responsible for bringing in 61% of personal taxes according to this report which asks, “Is South Africa heading towards a tax revolt?”

• 200 days – the average time it takes a South African company to realise it has an online security breach as the trend for cyber insurance policies grows.

• R6,5 billion – the cost of Steyn City, insurance magnate Douw Steyn’s huge development in Fourways, Johannesburg. Steyn’s own 3000m² villa is, at R250 million, SA’s most expensive home, edging out Nkandla.

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