The recent student riots have highlighted the issue of who will cover the costs of damage to personal property that may result from this type of social upheaval.

According to Christelle Fourie-Colman, MUA Insurance Acceptances Chief Executive Officer, it is important to note that insurance policies typically do not cover this type of damage and people must therefore ensure they have Sasria (South African Special Risk Insurance Association) cover added to their insurance policy.

She says that damage to personal property can easily happen during events such as the student protests. “We often find that people’s cars are unintentionally damaged as the protestors stampede and run over the car damaging the body of the car and breaking windows. Sometimes the cost to repair the car is so high it is cheaper to have the car written off entirely.”

A home can also suffer significant damage as a result of a protest, says Fourie-Colman.

“For instance, a group of protestors could walk alongside a residential area and let a flare go off which lands on the roof of a house, causing it to burn down. Should the homeowner not have Sasria cover included in their home insurance policy, they will suffer a huge financial loss, as it is unlikely that their insurance company would pay out the claim.”

SASRIA is a state-owned short-term insurance company that provides cover for riots, strikes, terrorism, civil commotion and public disorder to corporate, commercial and individual policyholders. It provides cover for material damage, business interruption, money, goods in transit, motor and construction risk. Sasria was formed in 1979 due to the reluctance of the short-term insurance to pay for damage as a result of political risks and has since expanded its cover to include other events listed above.

When handling a claim related to social unrest, policyholders must follow the same claims procedure as they usually would with their insurance provider, explains Fourie-Colman.

“They will report the claim directly to their insurance provider who will then liaise directly with Sasria on their behalf to ensure the claim is paid out.”

She says policyholders must note that Sasria coverage is limited to events that take place in South Africa.

“For those travelling to neighbouring countries is it necessary to check what cover is offered by those countries in case there is unexpected social unrest.

“While it is not compulsory to have this cover in place it is actually very cheap and worth it in the end. It is important that policyholders are aware there is this special insurance available and the fund is well preserved and can afford to pay out,” concludes Fourie-Colman.

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