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political unrest

SASRIA is the only insurer in South Africa that provides cover for damage caused during these kinds of incidents.

The Legal Advice Office received the following query in on Friday.

 “Good morning. I am a business owner in Hermanus and have a query regarding insurance. 

With all the civil unrest which happened in our town during 2018; and although I did not, as yet, suffer direct damage to my business premises or any of my other business assets; I have suffered severe financial loss of income loss. However; I have been wondering whether insurance companies are obliged to pay out insured persons or companies whose property was in fact damaged by these incidents.” 

Well in this blog; we will try and answer this question.

Insurance policies are in fact contracts and most insurance policies would have a clause that excludes the liability of the insurance company when a property is damaged due to civil unrest, war or terrorism. A typical exemption clause in your insurance contract would probably read something along these lines: 

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

Given that the person making the inquiry above has an insurance policy which probably excludes liability for this particular risk, it is important always to add SASRIA cover to your short-term insurance policy or policies, if you have more than one; so as 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 1970s 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 the following:

 • 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 only 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 and it is clearly advisable to make sure that you have this additional cover. 

In order to claim for 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 policyholder to claim for damage under their SASRIA cover, you will have to claim in the same way as with any other claim from your own insurer. Your insurer will, in turn, liaise directly with SASRIA on your behalf to ensure that your claim for damages caused by one of the above events, if valid and accepted by SASRIA, is paid out to the insured.

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.

Please visit our website at or send us an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will respond to your legal queries within 48 hours.

About our author: 

Hugh Pollard (Legal Consultant), has a BA LLB and 42 years’ experience in the legal field. 22 years as a practicing attorney and conveyancer; and 20 years as a Legal Consultant.

082-0932304 (Hugh’s Cell Number)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



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Legal Advice Office

South Africa

Kandelaar Street, Vermont, Hermanus
Phone: +27 (0) 82 093 2304