South Africans could soon be paying as much as 5% more on their premiums as insurers face growing global and local risks.
According to Paul Hanratty, chief executive officer at Sanlam, the country is now considered “very risky” due to mounting flood and fire dangers and risks to people and infrastructure following last year’s deadly riots.
Africa’s biggest insurance group has seen rising claims stemming from rolling blackouts and growing costs relating to crime.
Half-year results on Thursday showed a 7% fall in net operational earnings, dragged lower by a 57% slump in general insurance net earnings.
“I think it could push premiums anything up to 5% depending on the type of cover that you have, and doesn’t sound like a lot but remember when you’re already facing big inflationary increases, and you have to add that on top, it can be quite debilitating for consumers,” Hanratty said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The situation is made worse by reinsurers raising the price of coverage, particularly in South Africa, where they have lost money since the start of Covid-19, Hanratty said.
“None of 30 reinsurers that Sanlam works with have pulled out, but the biggest and most important ones have indicated that they are not going to provide as much cover to us, and some have indicated as much as a 50% reduction in the cover that they will provide to South Africa,” he said.
For the rest of the year, Sanlam expects the difficult operating environment to persist, while customers will feel the full impact of repricing in 2023.
“I think the economy will recover slowly, and I expect to see some growth coming back, but the problem is the surge in inflation, energy prices and so on is putting consumer incomes under pressure,” Hanratty said. “Consumption, as well as the savings rate, will come under enormous pressure.”
Sanlam climbed as much as 1.2% before paring gains to trade broadly flat by 10:36 a.m. in Johannesburg.