Are You Covered for Damage Caused by Riots and Looting?

Closed shop sign due to protests and riots in South Africa


Not sure if your home, car or business is covered for damages caused by riots and looting? SASRIA provides cover for exactly those kinds of events – and if you have existing short-term insurance cover, it's possible that you have it already.


These are deeply uncertain times. Hundreds of people have been arrested and dozens killed or injured as riots sweep through South Africa. Many businesses – especially in hotspots like Durban and Johannesburg – have been disrupted, as shops and warehouses have been looted and damaged, stock stolen and operating hours severely impacted.


If you're a business owner or homeowner who's been affected, you're probably wondering if your insurance policies will cover the losses.


What many business owners don't know – or didn't know until this week – is that SASRIA (the South African Special Risk Insurance Association) exists for this exact purpose. SASRIA is a state-owned entity (SOE) that provides special cover to South African individuals and businesses against risks like civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism. (Its origins date back to the 1976 Soweto uprisings, and South Africa is actually one of the few countries in the world that provides this kind of insurance.)


SASRIA cover excludes theft and looting, but these damages are covered if they occur during an active peril for which SASRIA accepts liability. These events include acts of terrorism, public disorder, strikes, and both political and non-political riots.


How Riot-Related Insurance from SASRIA Works


The information in those two previous paragraphs may be completely new to you, but just because you don't know about SASRIA doesn't necessarily mean you don't have SASRIA cover. Most South African short-term insurance policies include SASRIA cover either automatically or as an optional extra.


Speak to your insurer or check your policies to see if SASRIA cover is included as part of your current car, household, buildings or business insurance. Some of the insurance companies included in our insurance quote comparison tool offer it as a default; while others have it on some policies but not on others. For example, one partner offers it, but only if you request it when you take out the policy.


If you do have SASRIA cover, you should submit your claim as you normally would with your insurer, who will then hand it over to SASRIA for processing. If you do not have this cover, be sure to include it as soon as you can. (Just remember that claims will only be valid if the cover was activated before the incident occurred.)


The good news – if times like these have any good news – is that SASRIA has assured the public that it can and will honour claims related to the recent unrest, based on the cover a customer or business has in place. Speaking to the media as looting spread across South Africa's major centres, SASRIA MD Cedric Masondo warned that the total claims from July's riots could reach as much as R7-billion.


"Business owners who have SASRIA cover and had their premises, equipment, vehicles and/or merchandise destroyed or looted as a direct result of the violent riots, can claim from SASRIA," he said, adding: "We won't go to court or spend money on lawyers to decide if your claim is valid or not. We are not going to define what a 'riot' means and reject claims if they fall outside of the riot definition. From our point of view, these are all SASRIA-related claims, and payments can be made within a week."


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

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