Santam is South Africa’s largest general insurer and the number one general insurer on the continent. It has operations in 37 countries and has more than 22% of the market share in South Africa. Eighty five of the JSE’s 100 companies are insured by Santam which is testament of the value these companies place in the insurers’ service. Santam is an established, trusted and recognisable brand that has been around for 100 years, and is committed to delivering on its brand promise of ‘Insurance Good and Proper’ for the next 100 years.
Santam’s strengths lie in its diversified footprint, the quality and diversity of their products, their technical expertise and reputation as a company that ‘looks for reasons to pay claims’. They have been able to expand their footprint in countries in Africa, India and Malaysia through their partnership with Sanlam Emerging Markets. The insurer offers a wide range of products through multi-channel distribution as well as in specialist areas such as marine, aviation, agriculture, hospitality, travel and more.
Besides recognition as the number one business insurer by the Sunday Times TOP Brands Survey in 2017, and recently named a member of the prestigious FTSE4Good Index Series, the world’s authoritative index on ethical stock market investment, it is the way in which they respond when their policyholders need them the most that sets them apart from competitors.
One of the insurers’ proudest moments in 2017 was the way in which employees rallied to support policyholders in the Southern Cape towns of Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Sedgefield during the catastrophic fires that ravaged the area. This fire has been dubbed as one of the worst disasters in South Africa. Living up to their brand promise of Insurance Good and Proper employees worked tirelessly to ensure that claims were dealt with swiftly and with the utmost care.
While Santam is known for its world-class underwriting capabilities and specialist insurance skills and knowledge, it continues to invest in its people and developing the scarce skills required in the industry. They have recently established a Skills Development Academy that aims to build sustainable supply of talent in core and critical skills to meet current and future business needs. The academy focuses on the development of an external pipeline through learnership programmes, internships and bursaries as well as upskilling internal staff about the fundamentals of short-term insurance.
The insurance industry is at the threshold of incredible change that is impacting the way business is done and the way of work. Climate change, technological innovation, new clients and regulatory changes are some of the key challenges facing the insurance sector.
As Santam diversifies its client base and moves into new markets they have to address changing needs and demands of consumers. Millennials favour digital interaction and prefer to do insurance through an app on their smartphones. Greater customisation of insurance products and the availability of single asset insurance are some of the ways in which insurers are required to respond to new clients. Artificial intelligence robotics is and has potential for greater customer experience from buying to claims capabilities.
The insurance industry has seen the impact of climate change on weather patterns and catastrophes such as floods and drought are familiar occurrences, globally. A different set of responses is required to manage these risks proactively, instead of the traditional response of increasing premiums. Santam is a founding signatory of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative’s (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance. They also support the Climate Wise principles for the insurance industry, recognising climate change as a key risk to society and their business.
The insurer understands what it means to be a company doing business in South Africa and what is required of a good corporate citizen. They take their role in broader society seriously and this is evident in how they drive both social and business value. One of the key initiatives in doing this is through creating partnerships to build resilient communities that focuses on supporting community-led disaster prevention and management. By reducing chronic disaster vulnerability and minimising the catastrophic impacts of disasters, Santam aims to create empowered, self-reliant communities and a stable and resilient society. Their Partnership for Risk and Resilience (P4RR) drives risk mitigation and risk reduction interventions and initiatives with 10 district municipalities comprising of 54 local municipalities in South Africa. The P4RR initiative helps municipalities develop disaster resilience through a range of preventative measures.
A thriving economy requires an informed society – through their Consumer Financial Education programmes to individuals as well as small and medium size business they provide knowledge and understanding of risk management to make more informed insurability decisions. Suppliers are one of their key partners in honouring their commitment to clients. Santam nurtures development of small and medium enterprises, through their Enterprise Supplier Development (ESD) programme, helping black and women-owned SMME’s to become suppliers of choice. In the main, SME’s such as motor body repairers and building and construction businesses that are directly linked to Santam’s claims process, have benefited from its ESD programme. While supporting and strengthening these entrepreneurs enable Santam to deliver on its promise of Insurance Good and Proper, it also has a huge impact on job creation and driving growth in the economy.
The rate and the nature of changes in the sector are fast, vast and complex and leave no room for complacency. Santam will continuously build and display agility in their processes and people. They remain committed to become future fit and ensure they have a diverse talent pipeline ready. An exodus of women due to family obligations may require a rethink of more flexible work options policies and being open to the possibilities of job-sharing, for example.
Ultimately, employees will have to be more flexible, open, think differently and be able to innovate. People who demonstrate these abilities will find a home within Santam.
Lizé Lambrechts was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Santam on 1 January 2015 where she is responsible for executing strategic plans and policies approved by the board of directors. She also provides leadership and direction in realising the company’s philosophy and achieving its mission, strategy, annual goals and objectives; while also ensuring that the group meets or exceeds its targets, thereby growing profitability and sustainability over the medium to long term.
Prior to this appointment she was the Chief Executive of Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) for 12 years. She is currently chairman of the South African Insurance Association (SAIA).
Lizé is a qualified as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree with cum laude from the University of Stellenbosch.
Executive Head: Human Resources
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