Short-term insurance in South Africa

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What is short term insurance?


Short-term insurance is a policy that gives you protection for a period of time. This insurance is designed to give temporary protection against loss or damage to your private property when certain insured events occur such as vehicle accidents and/or car theft/hi-jacking, damage to household items and property.


There are various types of short-term insurance: personal, commercial, medical, and travel. However, not all short-term insurance companies have the licensing to sell all types of short-term insurer products. This article focuses on personal short-term insurance.


As the name implies, this insurance is for a short term, or limited time period, unlike long-term insurance that provides insurance policies for things such as funeral cover, life insurance or retirement investments.

How does short-term insurance work?

You pay an amount every month in exchange for protection against the financial expenses associated with loss, damage, or a claim against you. This gives you greater peace of mind.


Say, for example, your car is stolen, and you have car insurance against theft. Then, your short-term insurance company will compensate you for your loss according to how your vehicle was insured, e.g. if on an agreed value basis, they will pay you out accordingly. This makes it possible for you to buy another car in its place. The monthly contribution will depend on the risk factor involved, and the value of the article or asset. In other words, what the premium will be.


Depending on the risk factor involved and value of the article or asset will dictate what the monthly contribution, in other words what the premium will be.

What does a short-term insurance policy do?


This type of insurance is an important part of your long-term financial wealth planning. If you fail to have short-term insurance cover, and an emergency hits, you will have to cover the full costs yourself. If you do not have the funds, you may lose the asset without sufficient funds to replace it. The risk of never recovering from this massive financial loss and damage can have a significant impact on your financial well-being in the short and long term.


These are the most common types of personal short-term insurance policies


  • Vehicle cover
  • Property cover
  • Household cover
  • Personal liability
  • All-risks cover


Short term insurance and your car


  • Third-party – Provides cover for damage you are held legally held liable for to a third party, if the liability relates to your insured vehicle.
  • Third-party, fire and theft – Includes the above, plus provides cover for loss or damage due to fire, lightning, explosion, theft or hi-jacking of your car.
  • Comprehensive – Covers all of the above, as well as damage to your vehicle caused by an accident in which only your vehicle is involved, hail, vandalism, etc., according to the specifics of the policy.


Short-term insurance and your home


Insuring your house and its contents is as crucial a decision as buying your new home since it will be filled with everything that is dear to you!


Here are a few common questions that new home-owners ask about insuring their property and belongings:


Firstly, why do I need homeowner’s insurance?


If you need to take out a bond to pay for your home, you will find that all financial institutions will require evidence of homeowner’s insurance (also known as house or building insurance) before approving the loan.


The reason for this is that they need to be confident that their risk of lending you money is covered should anything catastrophic happen to the structure of the house, such as fire or flood damage.


Many banks offer their own homeowner’s insurance solutions; however, it is not compulsory to use their in-house solution to get an approved home loan.


Is building insurance different to home contents insurance?


Yes, however, in principle they both typically cover the same type of insured events; the building insurance concentrates more on the structure of the building itself whereas the house contents covers the contents/moveable assets kept within the structure. For that reason, it is important to have cover for both. The insured events are mainly malicious damage, fire, lightning, explosion, storm, wind, rain, hail, snow, water, or earthquake, but the coverage is different for each part of the house. Whereas the contents have the additional insured event of theft included.


Building insurance


Building insurance (homeowner’s insurance) covers the private residential structures of your home for the sum insured specified at the risk address, any outbuildings, as well as their permanent fittings, paving, swimming-pool fencing/walls, etc. against storm, fire, malicious damage, and theft, etc. For good homeowner’s insurance, you should also consider whether coverage for alternative housing, loss of water, and rental costs for alternate housing in case your home is temporarily uninhabitable, is provided. Another important factor to take into account is to make sure the construction of the structure is correctly stated, as there may be additional conditions that must be adhered to, for example, if the roof is thatch.


Home content insurance


House content insurance covers property that is yours within the house. This could be your clothes, furniture, TV, jewellery, kitchenware, and so on. This can be tricky to insure as not many know how much their content is worth. Best practise is to do an asset inventory and get costings of new for old to get an understanding of the total content worth. Make sure your household insurance covers fire, theft, and damage to your valuable items, as well as practical coverage for laundry drying on the line, or your domestic employees' personal effects while they are working in your home. In terms of theft and or burglary cover, you may be asked to install additional protection in the line of burglar proofing in front of opening windows, security gates in front of all doors that lead to the outside, as well as a linked alarm with a security company before theft/burglary cover is granted.


Everything you need to know about insuring your home


Here are some quick insurance tips you need to know before moving into your home:


  • Security first. Moving to a new home can expose you to risk as all your belongings are in transit or on display as they get packed and unpacked. For this reason it is vitally important to activate your house your house content insurance policies a few days before you move in, and check with your insurer what cover exists for goods in transit, additional security requirements etc. Use this time to install security fixtures such as burglar bars, alarms, etc., before you move in.
  • Get accurate cover. It would be wise to be accurately covered from the get-go. This useful inventory calculator will help you understand what your assets are worth. Or speak to your insurance broker to assist you as you don’t want to run the risk of underinsuring your valuables.
  • Take care. Homeowners have a duty of care to try to limit their losses after a break-in or theft. Do a proper inventory of all stolen items for your insurer and notify the police and your insurer immediately if any items are stolen.
  • Keep your insurance up to date. To protect yourself financially in the long run, it's crucial to review your insurance policy on a regular basis to make sure you have adequate coverage. Also, inform your insurer if any of change in circumstances that may affect the risk. For example, if you are going away for an extended period of time, or you are adding extensions to your house, as this may affect the cover you have. Doing so will prevent your home and contents from being underinsured.


What is personal liability insurance?


You are covered by personal liability insurance up to a specific amount for unforeseen catastrophes that may deem you legally responsible. The “Personal Legal Liability” is across all sections of cover taken. This covers your legal liability for accidental death, bodily injury or illness of any person, or accidental physical loss of or damage to tangible property of any person. In some instances, the cover will be worldwide (where the event took place). It may also include all costs and expenses incurred by the insurer and costs and expenses you incur with the insurer’s prior written approval.


All-risks cover explained


All-risks insurance is another type of short-term insurance that gives you extended cover for personal items that a policy holder may normally wear or take with him/her outside of the home. This could be for goods such as clothing and personal belongings, handbags, cell phones, cameras, laptops, bicycles, and even jewellery. Some items of expensive value may need to be specified separately with your short-term insurer and may be subject to a valuation certificate, etc. before it can be insured. As you have been covered against many different risks, this comprehensive insurance will provide you with financial peace of mind.


What does it mean if they say I’m underinsured?


The same principle applies to a building being insured. Occasionally, homes are underinsured because policyholders forget to adjust their policies when they install new fixtures in the building or alter their homes. Santam offers a handy online inventory tool to help you calculate, room by room, what the total replacement value of all your belongings should be. It is a good idea to store receipts of high-value items, and to take photos of assets or improvements for your own records.


Did you know?


  1. The contents of one in three homes are underinsured by up to 30%, according to statistics.
  2. Monday is the most common day for geysers to burst.
  3. If you combine your home contents, building and car insurance policies under one policy, you could save on your monthly premium.


Is this true about all short-term insurance policies?


Short-term insurance companies often renew insurance contracts automatically. This could put you at risk as your home and contents may not be up to date. A yearly insurance ‘spring-clean’ is highly recommended and should be part of getting your financial house in order. Plus, it might save you money in the long run.


How do I improve my short-term insurance policy?


Ewald Kemp, Personal Lines Underwriting Manager at Santam, gives five tips on how you can clean up your insurance policy.


  1. Adjust the amount for which you’re insured: Review your policy to ensure all your valuable and important assets are covered.
  2. Underinsurance: This may sound obvious, but the value of your household goods insured should be the same as what it would cost to replace them today, not the original purchase price.
  3. The structure of your home: If you’ve made any improvements, alterations, or installations to your property and home that might increase the value of your home, then you need to increase the amount for which your house is insured.
  4. Your car: Your car should be insured for the ‘reasonable market value’ or what a dealer would sell it for, considering its age, the mileage, the condition of the car and any extras.
  5. Save on car premiums: If you work from home or remotely, check if your short-term insurance company offers limited driving benefits. Like the Santam SmartPark distance-based vehicle insurance benefit, whereby your car insurance premium is recalculated and discounted based on the number of kilometres you expect to travel in the foreseeable future.


How to protect myself against load-shedding risk


It doesn’t seem as if load shedding in South Africa will be going away any time soon. Here are a few tips that will help you prepare for upcoming scheduling, as well as prevent financial losses caused by power cuts:


  1. Ensure your alarm system is in a working condition and the back-up battery is fully functional.
  2. Put a torch or headlamp in an easy-to-find spot.
  3. Save emergency contact information on your phone but also keep a paper copy safe and accessible. 
  4. Keep your cellphone, laptop and tablet charged.
  5. Get a gas stove for cooking and lighting.
  6. Keep frozen or stored bottled water.
  7. Unplug your cables.
  8. Invest in surge protection as well as power surge insurance under your building insurance. This is ideal for fixed machinery such as sprinkler systems, boreholes, and electric gates.
  9. Back up your data.
  10. Get short-term insurance for fridge and freezer contents with your insurance company.





South Africa’s largest short-term insurance company


Not only has Santam been around for over 100 years, but the company also insures risks to the value of over R4 trillion, with over 85 of the top 100 JSE-listed companies trusting Santam to protect their businesses.


Short-term insurance that is big on value, personalised to your terms


Santam offers short-term insurance when and where you need cover the most.



Plus, great extras


Whether you need roadside assistance, or a locksmith to help you get into your house, Santam offers amazing SOS services to its clients, to help them at home and on the road.


We are here for you 24/7.

What we offer:


  • Road assistance
  • Home assistance
  • Home drive assistance
  • Route assistance
  • Medical assistance
  • Legal advice


Save on short-term insurance with Santam


Now that you know the ins and outs of short-term insurance in South Africa, it is important to know how to use it to your advantage.


Most insurance companies will offer reduced insurance premiums if you combine your car, building and house content insurance into one policy. Having one insurance provider not only benefits your budget but also reduces paperwork and saves you time during claims.


Plus, short-term insurance companies in South Africa, like Santam, also give you the option to pay more for your excess payment, so that you pay a lower monthly insurance premium.


Short-term insurance is easy, with Santam


It is so easy to switch to Santam.


Not only can you save by combining building and house content insurance you will also gain access to many great extras exclusive to Santam, at no extra cost. These include cover for the accidental breakage of mirrors and certain glass inside your house, insurance for the personal effects of your guests as well as your domestic employees, plus cover for the contents of your refrigerators or freezers.


What does this service offer?


  1. Claims
  2. Emergency assistance and support 24/7


Covered by the best, against the worst


Santam works extra hard to make short-term insurance robust and effective when it comes to protection, but also really quick and easy when it comes to claims and use.


Their self-service app and claims portal, WhatsApp chat, and friendly service mean your home and car are covered by the best, against the worst, with insurance good and proper.


Speak to your intermediary or get a quote today!