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Civil unrest due to striking workers, political rallies and mass student actions, like #feesmustfall, is nothing new to South Africans. As a business owner, you may be wondering what this means for your Business Insurance Cover – is your insurance company obliged to pay out should your business’ property be damaged by strikes or civil unrest?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Most insurance companies insert a clause in their policies that excludes themselves from being liable should your property be damaged during civil unrest or due to acts of war or terrorism. Typically, this exemption clause in your insurance contract would read:

“This policy does not cover loss of or damage to property related to or caused by civil commotion, labour disturbances, riot, strike, lockout or public disorder or any act or activity which is calculated or directed to bring about any of the aforegoing” (Van den Berg 2017).

How to ensure that your business is still covered:
Seeing that most business insurance policies exempt themselves from being liable in these instances, it is important that you as business owner add South African Special Risks Insurance Association (SASRIA) cover to your short-term insurance policy. Doing this will cover your business in the eventuality of these risks.
SASRIA is a state-owned short-term insurance company that was founded in the late 1970’s after the rise of political unrest and uncertainty in South Africa after the mass student uprisings in 1976. What differentiates SASRIA is that they provide business cover for special risks that other insurance companies often avoid, including riots, strikes, terrorism, civil commotion and public disorder to corporate, commercial and individual policyholders. They are the only insurance company in South Africa that provides this type of cover.
Business cover from SASRIA typically includes:
  • Cover for damage to vehicles
  • Cover against material damages, including everything not covered by other categories
  • Added cover for the interruption caused to your business
How it works:
SASRIA does not work directly with the public – they only provide added cover along with an existing short-term insurance policy. When doing research on possible insurance policies or your business, make sure whether they include SASRIA cover to their policies, as most insurance companies add SASRIA cover for a low additional fee.
If you want to claim from SASRIA, the incident that led to damages being caused should be reported to the police first. The claim will only be successful if the event occurred in South Africa. The next step would be to claim from your insurance provider in the same way you would for any other kind of damages – your insurers will then liaise with SASRIA on your behalf to ensure that the claim is paid out if found valid.
If you own a business in South Africa, it is advisable to get in touch with your insurance company to ensure that you have SASRIA cover. This could save your company large sums of money should civil unrest, protests or strikes happen in or near your company.

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