South Africa’s insurance ombuds release their latest annual reports

The Office of the Ombud for Short-Term Insurance (OSTI) and the Ombudsman for Long-Term Insurance – now part of the new National Financial Ombudsman (NFO) – have released their annual report for 2023. It’s a weighty read – 136 pages – but there are some interesting facts and stats in various parts of the document.

The CN&CO team has been involved in the insurance industry for close to 25 years. Our founder, Carel Nolte, for example, is invested in several insurance businesses and has been active on various boards and committees for decades. (Did you know he was part of the SAIA committee that conceived and launched the Treating Customers Fairly initiaive?)

“It’s great to see so many of our insurance partners and friends in the Ombuds’ report,” he says. “Insurance is the bedrock of our economy and I am proud to be a part of the industry, together with my colleagues at CN&CO, Ami and Crawford Dougall.”

You will find the non-life insurers’ statistics on page 52. This section is followed by some fascinating case studies and formal rulings (pp 55-87). Well worth a read for anyone in the non-life insurance industry.

OSTI plays a crucial role for South African consumers for several reasons:

  • OSTI provides a platform for consumers to resolve disputes with their short-term insurance providers, such as claims rejections or disputes over the terms of a policy. This helps ensure that consumers have a fair chance to contest decisions they believe are unjust.
  • By offering a free, independent, and impartial service, OSTI protects consumers from potential exploitation and unfair treatment by insurance companies. This helps maintain a balance of power between consumers and large insurance firms.
  • OSTI’s services are accessible to all consumers, regardless of their financial situation. This ensures that even those who cannot afford legal representation have a means to challenge insurance decisions.
  • OSTI contributes to the transparency and fairness of the insurance industry by holding companies accountable for their actions and ensuring they adhere to industry regulations and standards.
  • By addressing consumer complaints and identifying recurring issues, OSTI can help improve the overall standards and practices within the short-term insurance industry. This can lead to better services and products for all consumers.
  • OSTI also plays an educational role by providing information and guidance to consumers about their rights and responsibilities regarding short-term insurance. This empowers consumers to make informed decisions and understand their policies better.
  • Knowing there is a dedicated body to handle complaints and disputes can increase consumer confidence in the short-term insurance market. This confidence is crucial for the overall health and growth of the insurance industry in South Africa.

Overall, the OSTI is essential for protecting consumer rights, ensuring fair treatment, and fostering a trustworthy insurance industry in South Africa.

The OSTI report is followed by the report of the Ombudsman for Long-Term Insurance (page 90), which is also an interesting read.

You can download the full report from the NFO website here.

Colin is our resident wordsmith. He can write absolutely anything and loves to read, too. He even has his own book club.