SA Insurers Wont Pay For Earthquake Damages: Study

At least five  South African insurers will not pay for damages to houses caused by the recent earthquake that hit the country, according to a study released on Wednesday.

“We approached some of the major building insurance providers in SA and found that five out of 17 providers could reject claims relating to the Orkney incident if it was found to be linked to mining activities,” Justmoney editor Angelique Ruzicka said.

The five are three of the four major banks – Standard Bank, Absa and Nedbank – and two specialist insurers, MUA and Addsure.

 “Nedbank provides cover for mining-related damage but not if earthquakes result from acid mine drainage (AMD), specialist insurer MUA Insurance Acceptances offers standard earthquake cover, but if it’s mining-related it won’t uphold the claim,” she said.

Ruzicka said Standard Bank’s policy stated that “you must prove that the damage was not caused by mining operations; and you must pay the first R2500 or 1% of the loss or damage (whichever is higher) if it was caused by mining operations.”

Justmoney is a website offering financial advice to consumers. Other companies surveyed included Telesure, Santam, and Hollard.

A 31-year-old man was killed, at least 34 miners were injured and more than 600 houses damaged. According to the water and sanitation department, AMD is generated when sulphide-bearing minerals, often in the form of pyrite (found in reefs mined for gold), are exposed to oxygen and water.

This process, termed pyrite oxidation, is characterised by the generation of sulphuric acid and dissolved iron.

Mandy Barrett of Aon SA pointed out that many South Africans were under-insured.

 “Financial times are tough and many households have reduced their sums insured in a bid to try and cope with skyrocketing living costs. What most forget to factor into their decision is the fact that you will most likely have to replace all your household content and possibly even the entire structure of your home in the event of a catastrophic event,” said Barrett.

Poor workmanship could also contribute to claims being rejected.