Going beyond the call of duty during the Knysna fires

By: Old Mutual Insure

The recent Knysna fires were among the most unfortunate events to have happened in South Africa. Damages, conservatively estimated, could run into billions of rands. However, as soon as the extent of the destruction of the fires became apparent, Old Mutual Insure’s claims team sprang into action. .

Steps taken:
The Old Mutual Insure team took additional steps to ensure the claims process was as easy as possible for those impacted by the Garden Route fires. These steps include:

  • The team opened a temporary office which was situated at Pledge Square on Main Road in Knysna. This ensured the Old Mutual Insure team could quickly assist customers.
  • The team established a dedicated, centralised claims e-mail facility and dispatched an additional team in a “catastrophe van” to support the local team in Knysna to further assist with fast and efficient submission of claims. This support team consisted of additional non-motor assessors, motor assessors, a quantity surveyor, regional customer relationship managers, local assessors and Old Mutual Insure panel beaters.
  • In addition to these steps, Old Mutual Insure also made payments of between R10 000 and R50 000 to customers who registered claims above R10 000.

Some challenges
Although teams were dispatched and a temporary office was opened, the team faced a number of challenges. These challenges will assist us should a similar catastrophe take place as the team have learnt from these and will be able to better prepare for these going forward. Some of these challenges included:

  • The inaccessible terrain following the catastrophe;
  • Power and other infrastructure shortcomings which forced us to setup a mobile office;
  • Telecommunications being down or delayed either due to damaged infrastructure or jammed / clogged systems;
  • As well as damaged documentation due to the fires.

Additional measures
We, as a company, understood that this was an extremely difficult time for everyone who had lost their homes, vehicles and belongings – not just for our customers but everyone impacted by the fires.

It is important for organisations to get together during these times to assist with relief efforts. We therefore, raised a total of R700 000 and collected non-perishables with the help of out committed employees. This was donated to Gift of the Givers, a relief organisation, and this was distributed to families impacted by the fires.

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