South African Insurers Urge Mandatory Auto Insurance

By | October 16, 2014

South African insurers have called on the government to start compulsory motor cover to reduce the cost to motorists and companies from the country’s millions of drivers taking to the roads without protection.

In South Africa “up to 60 percent of cars aren’t insured, so with 12 million vehicles, only 4 million are insured,” Gari Dombo, managing director of the insurance unit of Johannesburg- based Alexander Forbes Group Holdings Ltd., told reporters in the city. “Those who are insured are heavily subsidizing the uninsured.”

Vehicles account for about 60 percent of the property and casualty insurance industry in South Africa, with accidents making up more than 80 percent of claims insurers pay out in a year, according to Dombo. Insurers in the country can’t currently claw back their costs from a guilty third party who isn’t covered. Legislation forcing car owners to have third party insurance would help the industry expand.

“Insurance is about numbers: if you bring in numbers, premiums should go down,” Dombo said. “It may cost about 100 rand ($9) to 130 rand a month for third party. It would also help panel beaters and assessors to come into the mainstream industry. We’re talking with National Treasury about compulsory insurance.”

The earnings of the country’s five largest short-term insurers dropped 12 percent on average in 2013, partly because of weather-related claims, including golf-ball sized hail stones that damaged thousands of cars, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Industry profits may remain depressed, primarily because of motor insurance, Dombo said, adding that Alex Forbes is factoring in two significant hail storms this year.

Vehicles worth 8.5 billion rand were stolen in South Africa in the year through February 2013, the South African Insurance Crime Bureau said in a statement. Car hijackings made up 15 percent of the 66,360 cases of vehicle theft in the year.

Alex Forbes is the continent’s largest independent retirement fund administrator.

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