No smooth road for heavy haulage business

3 min read 17 May 2017

Being a haulage company owner is not an easy feat. With the recent severe rains experienced across South Africa, coupled with fuel price increases and e-tolls, an unstable Rand, fraying road network infrastructure and a continuously escalating risk of hijacking, there is no denying the heavy haulage industry in South Africa is faced with many challenges.

Being exposed to so many risks and pressures, many of which are out of one’s control, it is imperative that fleet owners effectively manage their risks, including making sure they are adequately insured.

Santam Heavy Haulage, South Africa’s leading heavy commercial vehicle short-term insurer, insures approximately 28 000 heavy haulage trucks on the country’s roads and together with their specialist intermediaries are committed to providing insurance that is good and proper.

Santam assists fleet owners with their risk management in order to proactively reduce incidents and therefore bring down their cost of insurance in line with their risk profile and history of incidents.

Anton Cornelissen, head of Heavy Haulage at Santam says, “Being aware of all the factors that have an impact on the haulage industry will allow drivers and business owners to be better equipped to manage their risk effectively.”


In 2016 we received around 12 000 heavy haulage related claims. We have noted an increase in single vehicle accidents attributed to deteriorating road conditions and adverse weather conditions,” says Cornelissen.

A challenge for the industry is the continuously increasing cost of vehicle spare parts, which in turn affects the cost of insurance, resulting in increased premiums.

“Vehicle spares in South Africa are rising by up to 30% annually,” explains Cornelissen. This is mainly due to the weak Rand/Dollar exchange rate, as well as imported parts which are often not of satisfactory quality.

“Santam understands that increasing costs means that our clients often have less money to spend and therefore we are constantly trying to keep client operating costs low. We have put together a team of specialised individuals to look after clients in heavy haulage. We are the only short-term heavy commercial vehicle insurer who has in-house motor assessors,” explains Cornelissen.

He adds, “Our motor assessors look at heavy commercial vehicles all over the country. The specialist nature of this job means that we provide a meticulous expectation of the vehicle, which is extremely useful to fleet owners.”


Driver fatigue contributes to a large percentage of heavy haulage related accidents. It’s imperative that fleet operators comply with legislation and closely monitor the time drivers spend behind the steering wheel of heavy commercial vehicles and that truck drivers rest sufficiently during travel.

The rising number of inadequately skilled drivers, with little experience is also a concern for many fleet owners.

“Unfortunately heavy haulage drivers have not acquired the best reputation on South Africa’s roads and it is important that we help change this perception. There are specialist driver training programmes in place in order to help change attitudes within the sector and manage risk behaviour,” says Cornelissen.

Furthermore, the poor conditions of South African roads provide inadequate support for the thousands of heavy vehicles that use them daily.


“At Santam, we understand the integral role heavy commercial vehicles play in South Africa’s economy and therefore offer a wide range of comprehensive products with exceptional service to protect our clients,” says Cornelissen.

He concludes, “Specialist intermediaries are part and parcel of a winning relationship between a client and reputable insurer. The heavy haulage business is of the nature that if you choose the wrong intermediary or opt to not use an intermediary, it could lead to serious financial losses from which your business might not be able to recover.”

Intermediaries have access to all the insurance-related products available in the heavy haulage business and have first-hand knowledge and experience into the industry. This allows intermediaries to service clients and assist with claims, ensuring payment is paid out quickly, that claims are not repudiated and that its clients’ risk profile is minimised.


Santam Heavy Haulage is the leading heavy commercial vehicle insurer in South Africa, offering the most comprehensive cover together with exceptional service delivery to transport contractors. In addition to the standard commercial motor cover, the product range extends to: excess reducer; theft/hijacking excess reducer; credit shortfall; extended wreckage removal; extended territorial limits; cross-border towing, and loss of use.

Contact Santam Heavy Haulage on 011 912 8000 /  for more information.