Answering your questions during lockdown


20 April 2020

Q: I must tighten my belt at this difficult time, even after lockdown. What can Safire do to help?

A: The simplest way of reducing your premium during this time is to restructure cover to cater for any current reduction in risk. To assist our clients, we have waived some of our usual underwriting rules to allow policies to be restructured, even if this results in the following:

  1. Premiums below our minimum premium levels
  2. Motor-only cover
  3. Liability-only cover 

Policyholders continue to have the usual mechanisms available, for example changing comprehensive cover to Third Party, Fire & Theft (TP, F & T), increasing excesses, deleting car hire options during lockdown, etc. Please contact your broker to discuss your needs. 

It is VITAL that you reinstate these cover options after the lockdown to avoid any unforeseen gaps in cover when our lives return to normal. 

Q: Can I ask for a ‘payment holiday’ and not pay anything at all during lockdown?

A: We understand that some of our clients are experiencing financial difficulties during this time. Unfortunately, due to our risk financing obligations, we are not able to offer a ‘payment holiday’ on the payment of premiums whilst enabling our clients to keep full cover in place. Our recommendation is that you contact your broker to discuss restructuring your policy for the immediate future to reduce the premium to a level that is more in line with what you can afford at this time.

Q: Do I automatically qualify for discount because my vehicle is at home during this period?

A: As required by law, we may not alter a client’s coverage without their consent. However, as mentioned, Safire has elected to offer certain discounting and policy restructuring options to help alleviate the pressure of the Covid-19 epidemic. Please contact your broker to ask about the possible restructuring of your policy and discounting options available for so-called ‘stowed vehicles’. 

This option only applies to sedans and LDVs that are comprehensively insured and insured for private use. The security arrangements around business vehicles, the sites where they are kept and the individuals who are responsible for looking after these vehicles, differs substantially from private-use vehicles, and we therefore cannot adopt the same approach. If clients wish to reduce the premiums they are paying for business-use vehicles, they have the option of amending cover to TP, F & T. Please note that if ‘stowed cover’ has been selected, the client may not use the vehicle at all.

Q: If my car is financed can I reduce my cover?

A: Please contact your Finance House to confirm your options before instructing your broker to reduce cover and therefore prevent any contradiction to your contract.   

Q: Am I only able to insure certain items during the lockdown?

A: Safire has elected to take a lenient approach when considering the restructuring of policies during this lockdown period.  Thus, our normal minimum rates, covers, or policy structures will not apply during this period. Please contact your broker to enquire about the possible restructuring of your policy for the immediate future.

Q: What happens to my claims during this time?

A: Safire is processing all claims as normalremotely, however the lockdown period will inevitably affect the processing and finalisation of claims, something which is sadly beyond our control. We have contacted our service providers and we have been informed of the following changes insofar as their operations are concerned.

Q: Will the services offered through the Safire Assist app still be available during lockdown?

A: All the Safire Assist emergency services are operational, except for Home and Convenience Drive, which is seen as a non-essential and non-emergency service, will only become operational again after the nationwide lockdown. The emergency services that will continue include:  

  • Roadside Assistance (Accident Towing, Road Patrol Services and Breakdown Towing)
  • Emergency Medical Services (excluding face-to-face counselling)
  • Legal Assistance (excluding consultations)
  • Crime and Security Assistance
  • Home Assistance – for home repairs that affect safety and security: gate motors, alarm systems, electrical faults posing a danger or no power supply; geyser repairs; water supply faults; serious resultant damage; structural collapse such as roof or wall repairs that cannot wait; flat glass where safety/security are at risk.

Q: Why does my insurance policy not cover loss of income due to COVID-19?

A: Short-term insurance was predominantly built on people’s need for cover as a result of losses where assets are damaged or lost, or cases where a policyholder is held legally liable for damage. Insurance as we know it today has expanded to a vast extent, but the general principles such as “indemnification and not compensation”, material/physical losses, and providing cover for sudden and unforeseen, once-off occurrences”, has largely remained the same.

Loss of income on most short-term insurance policies, insurable under the Business Interruption section, is linked to a valid claim under the Fire, Office Contents, Buildings Combined sections, or any other material damage insurance. This means that your business cannot operate because of a fire, storm or similar circumstances which resulted in material damage to your insured property property.  If there is no valid claim under these sections, the loss of income insurance cover will not apply. In addition, an epidemic such as Covid-19 is unfortunately a general exception under all policies and will therefore not prompt a valid ‘loss of income’ claim.

Q: What will happen if I cannot pay my premiums due to my loss of income?

A: Unfortunately, due to our risk financing obligations, we are not able to offer full cover without the appropriate premiums being paid. We encourage the same principle for each of our policyholders: if you are unsure how your finances will be affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, it would be our recommendation to have a discussion with your broker and look at the possibility of restructuring for a short period to reduce the premium. At all costs, avoid the situation where your policy is cancelled through non-payment and you are exposed to a situation where enough cover is not in place to offer protection for risk.

Q: Who can I ask about details of the pandemic?

A: Contact the national COVID-19 hotline on 0800 029 999 or the WhatsApp number: 0600 123 456.