Santam Agriculture looks forward to the next 80 years of crop insuranceSantam Insurance

Many a farmer knows the only certainty in agriculture is that nothing is certain. The next crop may be successful or it may not; similarly, a farmer’s risks are as unpredictable as the weather. With 91 years’ experience in the insurance industry and specialist knowledge of crop and asset insurance, Sanlam Agriculture is leading the way with the latest products and services in the field of agricultural insurance.

Santam Agriculture recently underwent a transformation, inspired by the natural elements of sun, water and earth. Dr Tobias Doyer, Head of Santam Agriculture, takes a nostalgic look at the history of agricultural insurance in South Africa.

Insurance and farming go hand in hand

When Santam’s short-term insurance book was consolidated with the long-established crop insurance business of ARS (previously Sentraoes) it heralded an exciting new era in agricultural insurance at Santam Agriculture.

That was some years ago. Today, there is great excitement at Santam Agriculture, because this year marks the 80th anniversary of successful crop insurance in South Africa.

Growing needs

In the 250-odd years before farmers in South Africa had access to crop insurance, they were vulnerable to experiencing disappointments and losses due to fires and hailstorms, not to mention wars and battles.

By the 1920s farmers realised that farming without having the necessary insurance was as risky as jumping from a plane without a parachute.

At that time, farmers’ requirements already went far beyond the obvious, and there was a need for an economic agricultural organisation in which producers and consumers could work together to the benefit of all parties.

The year 1929 will always be one of the most important dates in the history of crop insurance. The Conquered Territory Mutual Hail Insurance Society was established that year as the first hail insurance organisation. In those days, reinsurance was out of the question and farmers gradually realised that they had to insure their crops against hail and other natural disasters. In 1951, the “Boere Hael Assuransie” and Sentrakas managed to secure some reinsurance through Santam, thereby offering their members guaranteed insurance. Sentraoes was established in 1970 by consolidating the hail portfolios of the aforementioned businesses. In 2000, Sentraoes and CUAS merged to form ARS.

Expertise And experience

It was in the late 60s in particular that a revolutionary form of crop insurance was introduced. Insurers realised that insuring a farmer’s crop is an extensive and complex science. Aspects such as effective soil depth, soil compaction, moisture content, most suitable planting dates and different cultivars are only a few of the many aspects that need to be taken into consideration. Pioneering work was done, notably in the field of hail insurance.

Today, Santam Agriculture is the only short-term insurer in South Africa with an experimental farm where tests are carried out on various crops to determine correct underwriting methods, in order to enable farmers to select the right insurance for their needs.

Santam Agriculture’s new client-centric approach to short-term insurance, including new risk-management initiatives and an improved claims service, means that clients in agriculture are offered more flexible and transparent options. Santam Agriculture’s new team of experts and products support all the needs of the modern farmer, including liability cover for labour disputes, and crop and asset insurance.

A bright future

The success of the past 80 years can accordingly to Hannes largely be ascribed to the support of loyal clients. We are at the start of a new season and, as with the global economy, must prepare ourselves for a challenging year. It is in times such as these that our experience enables us to put the necessary measures in place to meet challenges successfully.

Despite our age, we are young and innovative in our thinking. We also have the necessary energy and passion to provide our crop and asset insurance clients with prompt and correct advice and assistance for the next 80 years!