Does my insurance cover damages due to public unrest and strikes?

“With all the civil unrest caused by striking workers, political rallies and student actions such as #feesmustfall, I was wondering whether insurance companies are required to pay out insured persons or companies whose property is damaged by these incidents?”

Most insurance policies have a clause that excludes the liability of the insurance company when property is damaged due to civil unrest, war or terrorism. A typical exemption clause in you insurance contract would read 

“This policy does not cover loss of or damage to property related to or caused by civil commotion, labour disturbances, riot, strike, lockout or public disorder or any act or activity which is calculated or directed to bring about any of the aforegoing.”

Given that your insurance policy probably excludes liability for this particular risk, it is important to add SASRIA cover to your short-term insurance policy to cover the eventuality of this risk. SASRIA stands for South African Special Risks Insurance Association and is a state-owned short-term insurance company, established in the late 1970’s following the increase of political unrest in South Africa after the 1976 uprisings. SASRIA provides cover for special risks other insurance companies do not cover like riots, strikes, terrorism, civil commotion and public disorder to corporate, commercial and individual policyholders. SASRIA is the only insurer in South Africa that provides cover for damage caused during these kinds of incidents.

SASRIA cover includes amongst others:

 • Additional cover for business interruption; 
 • Cover for damage to vehicles;
 • Insurance cover against material damage, which includes anything that isn’t covered by other categories.

SASRIA does not however do business directly with the public, and provides added cover to an existing short-term insurance policy. However, most insurance companies add SASRIA cover to their policies for a very low additional fee. 

In order to claim the damages through SASRIA, the incident that caused the damage must be reported to the police and the incident must have occurred in South Africa. For any policy holder to claim for damage under their SASRIA cover, they will have to claim in the same way as with any other claim from their own insurer. Their insurer will in turn liaise directly with SASRIA on their behalf to ensure that the claim, if valid, is paid out.

Although most policies include SASRIA cover, it would be advisable for any short-term insurance policyholder to check their policy conditions or inquire from their insurance broker whether they have SASRIA cover.

August 9, 2017

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