Santam is rocking – despite paying out R29.9 billion

South Africa’s largest general insurer, Santam, reported strong results for its latest financial year, maintaining its market share and growing revenue and earnings substantially. 

Santam reported a 9% growth in its group insurance revenue to R46.88 billion for the year to the end of December 2023. 

Basic earnings per share shot up 65% to R2.97 per share, while headline earnings were up a more modest 27% to R2.31 per share. 

A final dividend per share of 905 cents was declared, with cumulative dividends declared amounting to R3.18 per share.

“This is despite the overall operating environment, with headwinds within the insurance industry,” Santam Group CEO Tavaziva Madzinga said. 

“Weak economic growth in South Africa, our largest market, and elevated levels of inflation and interest rates dented any prospects of a meaningful improvement in consumer disposable income.” 

However, he remained cautious regarding the increased cost of reinsurance in South Africa among elevated claims due to severe weather events. 

For 2024, the issue of fires will be a particular focus for the insurer, with the company looking at how this hazard can be better prevented and mitigated.

Economic growth and employment levels are also a major concern for Santam in South Africa. Moreover, the impact of load-shedding and transport constraints place severe pressure on economic activity and investor confidence. 

Santam is currently undergoing a transformation through its FutureFit2030 strategy, where it aims to streamline its business and diversify its client base. 

As part of this strategy, unprofitable business of more than R1 billion were not renewed during the year.

Furthermore, the company implemented several underwriting actions that include enhanced risk assessments, segmented premium increases, changes to excess amounts and increased security requirements for high-risk vehicles. 

The company also managed to double the investment return on capital to R1.1 billion in 2023. 

However, its Client Solutions business recorded lower-than-expected growth due to the increased pressure on consumers due to higher interest rates and cost of living. 

MiWay’s growth was also relatively flat, recording only 5% growth for 2023.