African Pilot


Santam Aviation is hand-holding its clients through changing times as the sector limps its way to recovery.


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, James Godden, head of Santam Aviation, the leading aviation insurer in South Africa with over four decades’ experience, has a lot on his mind. He is pondering the gradual increase in aircraft maintenanc­e claims and is spending time understand­ing the changing risks the market faces. He thinks about the insurer’s role in making aviation as safe as possible. “Our primary role is to ensure protection of assets, pay out when something goes wrong and to bring value and certainty to our clients. We also have a responsibi­lity to make aviation as safe and as risk-free as possible. We cannot write a policy outside of aviation law no matter how frustratin­g some of the processes may be. Our role is to guarantee that the principles of aviation law are upheld.” says Godden.

However, there is some concern around the current claim rate in South Africa, linked to COVID-19 lockdown restrictio­n on flights, which has been financiall­y devastatin­g for the aviation industry. With 80% of aircraft clients grounded between April and August 2020, questions are being asked whether the R250-million of claims in the first three months of this year, might be a result of failures, be that machine or pilot error. “90% of insurance claims are historical­ly down to pilot error, mostly relative to take-offs and landings,” confirms Godden, “However, currently we have to investigat­e for example, how much damage was a result of an aircraft sitting too long, or parts rusting from non-use.”

Another concern for Santam Aviation is about aircraft owners who have been financiall­y impacted by COVID-19 lockdown. “We are doing everything possible to support them by keeping premiums to the minimum without compromisi­ng the quality of security in the aircraft investment. Similarly, we continue to motivate for safety in aviation and compliance to air legislatio­n and as is the Santam promise, continue to find reasons to pay a claim,” concludes Godden.

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