Protecting yourself against rising crime levels in SA

Unique policy for ordinary people facing all sorts of potential attacks

Many people have insurance cover which protects them against the affect of crime, but many cannot afford the cost of private medical cover and short-term insurance for personal items.

Image: STOCK

Crime is a reality for many South Africans with rising numbers of murders, hijackings, robberies, sexual assault and violence against women and children, according to the latest statistics from the South African Police Service. 

Many people have insurance cover which protects them against the effect of crime on them and their finances. But many cannot afford the cost of private medical cover and short-term insurance for personal items.

A new insurer, My Personal Lifeline, underwritten by Santam, aims to cover South Africans who do not have access to private medical facilities. 

“My Personal Lifeline is aimed at offering the ordinary man in the street access to private facilities at a reasonable rate – in the same way that medical schemes charge a fee to provide you with access to private hospitals or doctors,” Lucy Kalify, commercial director at CDA Solutions, the financial service provider that is marketing the policy, says. 

Kalify says that for a flat premium of just over R136 you and your family can be covered for crime-related loss, domestic violence situations, trauma and assault, rape and HIV exposure as well as medical assistance. 

“We see My Personal Lifeline as a first aid kit for crime in that immediately after an incident of a crime our clients can get access to a phone loaded with airtime, cash, accommodation, Uber vouchers to get around, a 24-hour helpline, private investigators and trauma counsellors,” Kalify says. 

Victims of domestic violence will also receive the following benefits: a professional security guard to collect you and your children, assistance to open a case against the abuser, and hotel stay of up to three days to the value of R6,000 per year. 

Different limits are applied to the various benefits. Kalify says that the insurer's objective is to ensure that you are able to claim different benefits and with no overall benefit limit. You could claim up to R100,000 worth of services for a specific event, she says. 

The insurer, which focused its marketing around gender-based violence earlier this year, received a lot of backlash with many accusing it of commercialising what should be free services. However, Kalify says the policy covers the entire family, as anyone can be a victim of crime or gender-based violence. 

Peter Nkhuna, senior assistant ombudsman at the Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance, says only the market will dictate how much need there is for such a product.

“I do not personally think it would be correct to see this as commercial exploitation of gender-based violence, rather being responsive to needs of those who are likely to find themselves victims of such crimes,” he says.

Policies should only be recommended on the basis of a needs analysis showing that you need the cover and the policy is best suited to that need, he says.

Kalify says although there are other products in the market that include some of the benefits offered by My Personal Lifeline, their product is packaged to offer an overall solution to a very specific problem and to South Africans who would not otherwise have access to private medical facilities. 

Marietjie Oosthuizen, senior financial planner at 27Four, says when you are in a relationship it is important to always stay independent by keeping your own bank account, separate savings and an emergency fund to protect yourself from crimes in the home like gender-based violence and trauma. 

Oosthuizen says her only concern for such a cover would be safety of a woman should her abusive partner find out she has such a policy. Women should also have the support of friends, family and other networks near them, she says.