Whereas several insurers in emerging countries are wondering how to cover politically related risks, the South African experience represents an interesting case in point. SASRIA (South African Special Risks Insurance Association) was established in February 1979 following the 1976 Soweto riots.


At the time conventional insurers were little inclined to assume the consequences of political incidents and riots. Moreover, coverage for this type of insurance was still unheard of.

However, many insurers felt the need to fulfil clients' expectations by offering them the new coverage they had requested, in reaction to the dramatic increase in the number of political incidents.

Member insurers of the SAIA (South African Insurance Association) met with the government in order to study the creation of a pool, SASRIA, which would cover this risk category.

SASRIA was therefore established with a starting capital of 5 million Rands.

Because reinsurance did not exist for this risk category, the South African government accepted to serve as a reinsurer of last resort.

During the years that followed the creation of the SASRIA pool, coverage was extended to damages from non-political riots and popular movements, such as labor demonstrations, strikes and lockouts.

In 1999, the SASRIA pool was converted into a limited company (SASRIA Ltd.). Although SASRIA has accumulated substantial reserves, the government still guarantees its financial capacity to face disasters; and if SASRIA's Executive Board counts six members elected by insurance companies, two members are government appointed. Today, however, the pool is in the process of privatization.

SASRIA is a pioneer in its field. It has been a model for similar pools in the United Kingdom and other countries.


  • SASRIA is tax-exempt
  • Thanks to its status, SASRIA can retain the totality of its tax-exempt benefits and accumulate substantial reserves
  • SASRIA functions as a private insurer and use the international reinsurance market to protect part of its coverage exposure
  • South African insurance companies are SASRIA agents: they underwrite policies, collect premiums and accept/receive claims. Claims are referred to the SASRIA's office
  • Insurers are authorized to subtract 15% of the premiums for their expenses; a maximum of 5% is paid to the agent or the broker
  • In compliance with the South African legislation, the purchase of SASRIA policy is not mandatory but optional
  • Premium rates are fixed commonly between the insurers, the insurance brokerage associations and the FSB (Financial Service Board). The FSB represents the competent authority in the South African insurance market

The guarantees

SASRIA Ltd. indemnifies the insured against loss of or damage to property, directly related to or caused by:
  1. any act (whether on behalf of any organisation, body or person, or group of persons) calculated or directed to overthrow or influence any State or government, or any provincial, local or tribal authority with force, or by means of fear, terrorism or violence
  2. any act which is calculated or directed to bring about loss or damage in order to further any political aim, objective or cause, or to bring about any social or economic change, or in protest against any State or government, or any provincial, local or tribal authority, or for the purpose of inspiring fear in the public, or any section thereof
  3. any riot, strike or public disorder, or any act or activity which is calculated or directed to bring about riot, strike or public disorder
  4. any attempt to perform any act referred to in clause (a), (b) or (c) above
  5. the act of any lawfully established authority in controlling, preventing, suppressing or in any other way dealing with any occurrence referred to in clause (a), (b), (c) or (d) above
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