(Reuters) – South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that Santam will cover the effects of COVID-19 restrictions on the Ma-Africa hotel group for 18 months, and rejects the insurer's request for a shorter time frame for the claim, Santam said on Thursday.
Globally, companies such as Ma-Afrika have fought against insurers' rejection of claims made under their business interruption policy after they were forced to close when the pandemic took hold. In South Africa, insurers said their insurance policies did not cover national suspensions.
The court had already ruled that Santam could pay Ma-Africa's claim. Santam accepted the verdict but appealed the damages claim, claiming that it would only be liable for three months.
Santam said that Thursday's decision also affects certain policies that are structured in the same way as Ma-Africa holds, but noted that these accounted for less than a third of the 3,200 such claims it had received.
"Santam will now settle the claims directly affected by … the judgment," the insurer said.
No changes were expected from an estimate made in June that claims would cost Rs 1
The insurer has already paid Rs 2.1 billion in connection with such claims.
Insurance Claims Africa, a loss adjuster representing Ma-Afrika and other companies fighting with their insurance companies on the matter, said in a statement that Ma-Afrika had won the "final leg of the battle" with Santam.
"The court's decision in this carpet It is crucial for thousands of Santams … policyholders for business interruptions," says ICA CEO Ryan Wooley.
The case has been closely followed by affected companies and insurers throughout the industry clarity on insurers' obligations on the issue in South Africa.