But for 28 householders in Masiphumelele, Cape Town, who lost everything in a fire that swept through the area on 29 July, innovative protection including insurance cover underwritten by Hollard Insure is assisting them to get their lives back – quickly.
More than 1 200 people living in 256 informal homes lost all their possessions – and a man was tragically killed – when the fire broke out in the early morning hours.
However, for those who subscribe to Lumkani, help was immediately at hand. Lumkani provides residents of informal settlements early warning of fire, coupled with fire cover up to R40 000.
Residents rent the heat-detection devices from Lumkani for a modest R60 a month, which includes the fire cover of up to R40 000, which is underwritten by Hollard Insure.
A total of 28 pay-outs were made as a result of the Masiphumelele blaze, totalling R1.12-million, says Lumkani CEO David Gluckman.
“This unfortunate incident proves the immense value that Lumkani and Hollard Insure can offer the residents of informal settlements: that early warning saves lives, and relevant and proper cover helps people to quickly find their feet again. We have heard numerous stories from our clients of their possessions being saved before the fire reached their home,” says Gluckman.
He continues that informal settlement fires happen almost on a daily basis, but that many are now being extinguished before they can take hold and destroy hundreds of structures at a time, due to the Lumkani early warning device.
"In 75% of cases, Lumkani prevents the fire from spreading past the first home. In cases where water is not available, or strong winds make the fire spread rapidly, Lumkani is able to limit the loss of property and life, and cover any losses that are experienced."
“The Masiphumelele claims amount to over R1-million, but this is a fraction of the losses prevented around South Africa to date by Lumkani, which we estimate to far exceed R50-million,” says Gluckman.
“But it’s about much more than money. By helping to prevent the loss of life and possessions in informal settlements and assisting clients when they do, we can support some of the most under-served people to weather such tragedies with dignity and to much more easily rebuild their lives.”
For Willem Smith, Hollard Insure’s Managing Executive for Alternative Channels, the response to the Masiphumelele incident showcases insurance as it should be.
“The purpose of proper insurance is to put people back in the position they were before they suffered a loss. In providing them with effective and appropriate cover, and paying out their losses expeditiously, we’re helping so many Masiphumelele residents do exactly that,” Smith says.
In so doing, Hollard Insure is living up to its business purpose, called Better Futures: that in everything it does, and how it does this, it should create and secure better futures for more people.
“It makes me proud to work in insurance – and for Hollard Insure in particular – when we are able to be there for customers when they need us the most. In the past, residents of informal settlements had no chance of an insurance safety net.
“But in partnering with Lumkani, we are part of a solution that combines technology with insurance-cover that does, indeed, offer people the opportunity of a better future,” says Smith.