RISKSA Magazine - - SHORT TERM - Hanna Barry

To­gether with a team that has dou­bled the busi­ness at San­tam Heavy Haulage since he joined seven years ago, head An­ton Cor­nelis­sen ac­knowl­edges that 2013 has been tough, with se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion and down­ward pres­sure on mar­gins. But this in- house spe­cial­ist di­vi­sion has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

The num­ber of trans­port un­der­writ­ers in South Africa has more than tripled over the past five years, with around 16 now vy­ing for mar­ket share. Cut­throat com­pe­ti­tion keeps pre­mi­ums low, while a weak Rand and strong Dol­lar pushes up the cost of re­pairs ( by as much as 30 per cent in three years). Many trucks and parts are im­ported from the United States. Not the most prof­itable line of busi­ness at the best of times, profit mar­gins are slim­mer than ever, but San­tam Heavy Haulage is keep­ing its head above wa­ter. “2013 got off to a bad start as com­pa­nies at­tempted to gen­er­ate ad­di­tional prof­its in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, which are tra­di­tion­ally quiet months for the truck­ing in­dus­try. It took us four months to re­cover, but we rode it out and are once again prof­itable,” says Cor­nelis­sen. Con­trac­tors are also un­der pres­sure to make a profit and have few qualms about mov­ing in­sur­ance providers in search of cheaper pre­mi­ums. With the back­ing of San­tam, Cor­nelis­sen can keep rates com­pet­i­tive, but pro­vid­ing great ser­vice to sup­port this is in­suf­fi­cient in a mar­ket where ev­ery­one is com­pet­ing on this front. In­stead, San­tam Heavy Haulage’s strategy is to of­fer the full range of so­lu­tions to heavy com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle con­trac­tors, from con­ven­tional, com­pre­hen­sive cover to self­in­sur­ance op­tions. Ac­cord­ing to Cor­nelis­sen, it is unique in its ca­pac­ity to do so. While it loses pre­mium in­come on those clients who self­in­sure, look­ing af­ter their best in­ter­ests se­cures fu­ture loy­alty, which is dif­fi­cult to achieve in a mar­ket where price is king. With 28 000 ve­hi­cles on its books and more than 7 000 in­ci­dents a year, a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on truck driv­ers, which is where the high­est risk lies, will stand it in good stead. San­tam Heavy Haulage par­tic­i­pates in govern­ment- ar­ranged Well­ness Days, to­gether with the rest of the trans­port in­dus­try, in­clud­ing other un­der­writ­ers. “It is en­cour­ag­ing that the whole in­dus­try is work­ing to­gether to pro­mote driver train­ing and road safety. As a gen­eral rule, driv­ers are well be­haved, but many are over­worked, which is of­ten when ac­ci­dents oc­cur,” ex­plains Cor­nelis­sen. A com­mit­ment to train­ing driv­ers is ev­i­denced by the fact that this di­vi­sion has taken on fleets that no one else in the mar­ket would in­sure, trained the driv­ers and seen a huge im­prove­ment in their risk pro­files and loss ra­tio. It ex­udes the same pas­sion for train­ing its own staff, such as An­nah Ketso who went from serv­ing tea to run­ning of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tion and even do­ing some un­der­writ­ing. With a to­tal staff com­ple­ment of 23, San­tam Heavy Haulage is a tight- knit team that reg­u­larly spends time to­gether out­side the of­fice en­vi­ron­ment. “I come to work for the peo­ple. We have a great team com­mit­ted to our suc­cess. No­body asks to be paid for over­time and I even have to force some peo­ple to take leave,” Cor­nelis­sen smiles.

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