From the Desk of the Chief Executive: Viviene Pearson
The government kicked off its phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccinations in earnest during May 2021, with minimal people in the 60+ age group registering discontent. It is pleasing to know that the government had progressed from the “talk and planning” to execution mode. As the non-life insurance industry body, and a member of Business Unity SA (BUSA), we support the collaborative effort between the public and private sectors to roll out the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme and will certainly play our role in encouraging all South Africans to vaccinate.
However, the third wave has crept in and infection numbers are peaking necessitating all South Africans to take every precaution. A return to Level 3, or anything above that, will not only further devastate our economy but will also erode consumer purchasing or spending power, further jeopardising growth prospects for our economy. However, I was pleased with the feedback from the revelations of the South African Reserve Bank’s Financial Stability Review (FSR) on Thursday 28 May, where the bank stated that profitability across both the banking and insurance sectors has been materially lower, but remained positive in 2020, which played an important role in bolstering capital levels. The report further noted that South Africa’s financial institutions remain “well capitalised”, which in itself must give our policyholders confidence in the ability of the industry to meet its obligations.
The non-life insurance industry is constantly confronted by a need to continue to review and evolve its risk management strategies and solutions to remain relevant. In the last year, our industry, alongside many others, witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic ushering in several new policies in the world of work that involved either working from home, or at the office or a hybrid that involved the combination of both. This meant that companies have had to spend more on technology infrastructure for business continuity. Consequently, this has also come with several security risks for most businesses that needed mitigation strategies.
As more business operations migrate to online models, the threat of cybercrime increases, and a greater need for cybersecurity comes into play. The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has shown that South Africans lose in excess of R2.2bn to internet fraud and phishing attacks annually. Although there are products available in this space, there remains an opportunity to further emphasise the role of insurance in the cyber risk and security space.
Following the recent re-launch of a revised SAIA Code of Conduct, SAIA hosted several workshops in May aimed at creating deeper awareness and promoting compliance to its provisions among SAIA members. Further Workshops are planned for this year to discuss changes to the current Audit Template and how best to manage compliance following the collation of results that form the basis for the Annual Certificate of Compliance Reports, from the Certificate of Compliance exercises.
SAIA welcomes the Finance Minister, Mr Tito Mboweni’s appointment of the first Ombud Council Board and a Chief Ombud for the Council, Ms Eileen Meyer. We look forward to working with the Council soon.
In conclusion, on behalf of SAIA, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to one of SAIA Board Members, Mr Thusang Mahlangu and his family, on the passing of his beloved wife, Mrs Cecilia Mahlangu. Our thoughts continue to be with him and his family at this challenging time.
Viviene Pearson SAIA CEO
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