By: Alex Terblanche, Head: Business Insurance & VAPS Auto & General
2020 has truly been a watershed year for all of us. Not since the global market crash in 1987 has a year had such an impact on our generation. Looking back, one’s first reaction is simply to want to forget it ever happened and move on, but if there was one thing that 2020 taught us, it was to evaluate and do some introspection.
From a personal point of view, it’s taught us the importance of health, family, friendship and compassion.
From a business perspective, it has made us question everything, from what we do, to how we do it.
It has taught us that all businesses face unforeseen risks, no matter how big or small. It has highlighted the importance of understanding how to capitalise and insure your personal belongings or your business against both physical and financial risks. It also taught the critical importance of the role that insurance plays.
And, finally, it taught us that no person or business is immune to unforeseen black swan events.
The fact is that the future is unpredictable and change is inevitable. Whether from a personal or business point of view, one always has to be responsive to changing conditions, be flexible and be set up in such a way that it is easy to adapt to change. Businesses who were able to digitise and create new markets quickly, were less affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.
From an insurance perspective, as for many other industries, it’s been a tough year. Consumers are struggling financially, with many cancelling their insurance policies, regardless of the risk and purely with the aim to make ends meet.
During a time where especially small businesses struggled, we were proud to be one of the first insurers to pay-out on business interruption claims.
Insurers have also had to adapt. We believe we need to create better value for our brokers and customers.
The first step would be to provide clear and understandable wording that is easy for brokers and clients alike, to read and understand. Secondly, we need to ensure that our digital partner support remains a key priority. Thirdly and from a Commercial Insurance perspective, we need a larger focus on creating financial risk lines such as Business Interruption cover, what it means and how it works, as well as specialised liability lines of insurance that can support a new world.
What is important to us is to remember that business is not only about profit. We have to give stakeholder capitalism concrete meaning, by moving beyond our legal obligations and upholding our duty, as a business, to society. This will bring the world and our country closer to achieving shared goals.
It’s been a trying time, but also a transformative time and a time of remarkable compassion, with countless instances where we’ve come together as a nation for the good of our most vulnerable.
At the time of writing this article, South Africa was in the midst of its third investment conference. With political and business leaders coming together to create a better South Africa, by attracting much needed investment to the country.
From an Auto & General perspective, social responsibility is therefore a cornerstone of our business proposition. We believe that businesses who do not take their role in the community seriously, will likely fall out of touch with the community at large and be less like to succeed in the future. During 2020 we have seen how many businesses supported each other, even those that are in competition. But, they did it purely to survive 2020.
We responded with our Food Security Programme in Diepsloot and through our parent company, TIH, we took up the President’s call to unite in the fight against Covid-19 with a pledge of R320 million to the established Relief fund, thereby having the true privilege and honour of being able to do our part in giving back to our communities and country.