South Africa’s largest insurer Santam is expected to present its argument in the Western Cape High Court today for leave to appeal against the full bench judgment that recently ordered it to pay out restaurants’ business interruption insurance claims.
The court early upheld COVID-19 business interruption insurance claims by Ma-Afrika Hotels and Stellenbosch Kitchen in all respects after the insurer initially refused to pay out. This after the restaurants filed insurance claims against Santam in the Western Cape High Court in late 2020.
Insurance claims Africa, the specialist loss adjustment firm that is representing more than 850 claimants in the tourism and hospitality sector in their battle to get large insurers to pay out on business interruption claims, said it believed that businesses were “a step closer” to having their claims resoled by Santam.
ICA said Santam had in its court papers abandoned all targets of its intended appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, except for the length of the indemnity period.
Santam makes concession regarding claims
According to ICA Santam had made a number of material concessions in its court papers, including dropping its demand that Ma-Afrika’s COVID-19 claim be settled on a three-month take-it-or-leave-it basis. ICA had last month asked Santam to consider converting its ‘full and final’ settlement offer to an interim payment of three months, leaving the balance of the 18-month policy to be dealt with after the SCA appeal. Santam has agreed to do this.
ICA said Santam had also agreed to pay the full costs of the proceedings, and of its application for leave to appeal, including the costs of three counsel for Ma-Afrika. Santam had also agreed to include foreign guest income in the quantum calculation. For some of Santam’s policyholders, the exclusion of foreign guest income would have reduced their quantum by over 50%.
ICA Africa CEO Ryan Woolley welcomed the latest developments.
“While it’s taken a lot of pressure, time, money and effort to get here, we are extremely pleased that our claimants are closer to a fair and reasonable resolution to their Business Interruption claims.”
The firm earlier defended home and business owners against insurers who incurred losses during the Cyclone Domoina floods in 1984 and in the Knysna fires in 2017, the worst wildfire in the country’s history. It also acted for claimants in the Mozambique floods caused by Cyclone Idai in 2019.