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Claim settlement delays and frustrations

Occasionally, parts of South Africa are subjected to extreme conditions and occurrences bringing about unusual amounts of property loss and damage. At these times most of us are grateful that we bought and paid for that insurance policy. Unfortunately, that relief sometimes turns to frustration when claims are not processed or settled as quickly or satisfactorily as we would like.

Recently, on 9 and 10 October 2017, the eastern parts of South Africa were struck by extreme weather. While Gauteng was hit by hail storms, Durban and parts of the south coast in KZN experienced cyclonic type conditions including gale force wind and driving rain. Damage in many areas was equally extreme and the weather left a trail of destruction in its path.

Insurers were initially quick to respond and had loss adjusters and assessors on site within a matter of hours. For many property owners that is where the sense of expediency appears to grind to a halt. In between the initial damage and the repairs to damaged property, further inclement weather only succeeded in making matters worse by adding to the damage.

In time of extreme conditions that cause unusually high amounts of damage, the limited resources available to the insurance industry become stretched beyond capacity. As a result, we experience delays in service delivery and claim settlement that become the cause of much frustration.

Loss adjusters are called upon by insurers to act on their behalf as experts who can inspect the damaged property, identify the cause and differentiate between what is insurable and what is not. The loss adjuster may also be directly involved in acquiring the necessary quotations for property repair and reinstatement from suitably qualified contractors which is then scrutinised and validated. Their role is one of quality control and validation of a potential claim before submitting recommendations and reports to the insurer. Their aim is to satisfy the insured while protecting the insurer against uninsured losses.

Extreme conditions and the resulting dramatic increase in insurance claims places significant strain on the pool of loss adjusters who is under huge pressure in these unfortunate circumstances to complete far more inspections and reports than usual. The insurer is also unlikely to act without the appointed loss adjuster’s report and is therefore compelled to wait.

Furthermore, where a large amount of damage occurs, the need for suitably qualified and competent contractors increases accordingly. Again, the available resources are stretched to their limits and beyond. Contractors are expected to issue large quantities of quotes but may only receive a few appointments. Established and experienced contractors will be inundated with work. Depending on the type and quantity of damage, a shortage of materials in an area may also be expected. All of this leads to further delays in property reinstatement.

Therefore, when such extreme circumstances arise it is sensible to exercise patience in having your claim settled and your property repaired or replaced. With a specialised property insurance broker and a well-organised managing agent appointed to look after your interests, they will usually be able to ensure that their clients claims are prioritised and dealt with as expeditiously as possible.

At Addsure, we believe the utmost satisfaction of the insured should always be the primary aim of all relevant parties but like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady is sometimes better. Correct procedures, processes and communication are key in maintaining satisfaction and realising an acceptable outcome.


Author: Bruce Gibson

Contact Addsure – The Leaders in Sectional Title Insurance – to get fit and proper advice from advisors who understand sectional title. Contact us in Johannesburg on (011) 704-3858; in Durban on (031) 459-1795 and in Cape Town on (021) 551-5069