Safire Insurance Newsletter 2015


May 2016
Good news and bad
El Nino has ended. The tropical Pacific Ocean is in a neutral state and outlooks suggest little chance of returning to El Nino levels, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has announced. That means mid-May marks the end of the event that reduced Indian rainfall, parched farmland in Asia and curbed cocoa production in parts of Africa. However, Australian and US weather agencies have issued La Nina watches, based on climate outlooks that show La Nina may develop between June and August this year. La Nina is a cooling of the tropical Pacific sometimes thought of as El Nino’s opposite. La Nina can also change weather, with the pattern typically contributing to more hurricanes in the Atlantic and heavy rain in Indonesia and India.
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Consumers urged to retain insurance cover
Times are hard and SA’s consumers are constantly tightening their belts. “Household expenditures are continually being scrutinised in order to make ends meet,” says Vivienne Pearson, CEO of the South African Insurance Association (SAIA). “One of the areas most affected by consumer cut-backs is risk expenditure which includes medical aid contributions and short-term insurance premiums”. Justus Van Pletzen, CEO of the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA), explains that short-term insurance is often the first expense cut, as its benefits are not always apparent. He warns that many consumers don’t realise how devastating the financial consequences can be following a car accident or burglary.
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Canadian wildfire sets grim records
On 1 May 2016, a wildfire broke out in the Alberta city of Fort McMurray. The fire is set to become the costliest ever Canadian natural disaster for insurers, with an initial 1,600 buildings destroyed and damages now estimated at 2000 homes and businesses. The entire population of almost 100 000 people had to be evacuated. Smoke from the fire could be seen as far south as Iowa. In the first four months of 2016 there were 15,485 wildfires in the US, about the same as the 15,327 that burned in the first four months of 2015. However, in 2016 wildfires have burned 1.5 million acres to date, compared with 316,000 in 2015.
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Be honest!
When submitting an insurance claim it is vital to give clear details and honest facts. While leaving the scene of an accident might ensure that a driver who is under the influence of drink or drugs escapes testing for these substances by the authorities, there may be financial implications, as in non-payment of a claim. If the circumstantial evidence establishes on a balance of probabilities that a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of an accident, the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance will support the insurer’s decision to reject the claim.
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Smartphone security threat
Smartphones will become the number one target for cyber criminals within five years, according to police and security experts. Hackers are developing viruses to by-pass phone security, including the latest biometric systems. The malware 'Trojan horse' gives cyber-criminals undetected access to a phone's internal systems, where they can see every key stroke entered by users. This has serious implications for those who use phones to access bank accounts and apps that hold sensitive or personal information. Read more…
Taking flu medicine?
As winter approaches, the number of people suffering from flu and common cold symptoms increases. Beware if you have been taking over-the-counter medication for your sniffles. A report in the UK reveals that ‘drug driving’ offences have increased in the country by 144%, from 691 in 2014 to 1686. Apparently one in eight motorists felt affected by prescription drugs while driving. Pharmacists say that drivers could also be impaired by over-the-counter medicine with one in 15 hay-fever victims saying their driving has been affected by their treatment.
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Fuel efficient driving
With the high cost of fuel it makes sense to develop driving skills that stretch the fuel-economy of your vehicle. According to, there are basic measures to focus on, including the obvious ones such as driving slower, and braking and accelerating steadily rather than in a hasty, jerky pattern. Use speed control if your vehicle has it, and now that we are heading into winter, make less use of air conditioning. Avoid excessive idling – turn off your engine if you intend being stationary for longer than a minute. The maintenance of the vehicle also makes a difference to fuel consumption: a vehicle running at optimal levels will perform better in terms of fuel economy.
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Fire control this winter
In the cooler months, we tend to turn on heaters without considering the hazards that these handy heating systems might pose to the home and household. To avoid high risk situations, make sure that portable heaters are kept at least 2m from flammable items such as curtains, and never drape clothing or towels over heaters to dry. Never leave heaters on when you go out – even for a short period. They should also be turned off at bedtime. If you have an open fire in a fireplace, ensure that burning embers are put out before leaving the fire, even if this requires dousing them with a little water. Fire extinguishers should be readily accessible and checked regularly – at least annually - to ensure they work properly.
Safire Insurance King of the Seas
The Safire Insurance King of the Seas fishing competition took place on 20-22 May near Hibberdene south of Durban. The competition was a great success, with PJ Botha walking away with the main title, thanks to his monster 28.2kg Couta. He took home prizes to the value of R60 000 including R20 000 cash and tackle and holidays to the value of R40 000.
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Morse code anniversary

According to the 2015 Victims Crime Survey, the criminal incidents that are more likely to be reported to the police are murder (95.7% were reported to the police), car theft (88.9%), and car hijacking (85.8%). Sexual offences (63.0%), housebreaking (51.8%) and theft of personal property (34.2%) were less likely to be reported.

Morse code has been an essential part of long distance communications during the past century or so. On 24 May 1844, Samuel Morse sent the first Morse code message, “What hath God wrought?". Morse patented a working telegraph machine in 1837, and used a dots-and-spaces code for letters of the alphabet and numbers.

In 2009, the Forensic Science International: Genetics journal showed that using basic equipment and minimal forensic knowledge it was possible to falsify saliva and blood samples containing DNA that could be planted at crime scenes. An Israeli test now differentiates between false and true DNA samples as false DNA lacks certain molecules.

Counting down to the Safire Baynesfield MTB Classic

It’s almost here! The increasingly popular family-focused MTB race of the year, the Safire Baynesfield MTB Classic takes place on Sunday 12 June at the Baynesfield Estate near Pietermaritzburg. In addition to the carefully planned routes of 10/20/45 and 65 kilometre options to suit all levels of riders, there is also a 10km fun run trail for those not keen to ‘get on their bike’. For details, contact Sean Stanton at Safire on or 033 264-8500. Have a look to whet your appetite… To view ...

Economic Tidbits
Economic Tidbits
Economic Tidbits
• R184.4 million – what the Ombudsman for Long-term Insurance says was recovered in the form of lump sums for consumers from long-term insurance companies during 2015, making it the country’s most complained about insurance sector.

• R90 billion – the accumulated surplus of the Unemployment Insurance Fund that Joan Fubbs, an ANC MP and chairwoman of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry said could be used for debt forgiveness programmes.

• R100 million – the total amount of money recovered for consumers in 2015 according to the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance‚ Deanne Wood. That’s down from the R116 million recovered in 2014.

• $459 billion – what the US Insurance sector has invested in fossil fuel investments. A recent study says the sector needs to divest or face increased threats to its financial stability.

• $400 million+ - the profit made annually by insurance firms after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Insurance companies are coming under increasing criticism for profiting off natural disasters.

• £60 billion – value of the London insurance market which insurance firms say will be damaged if the Brexit movement is successful in getting Britain to leave the EU.

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