As the world continues to go through increased economic hardship and instability, the levels of poverty are likewise increasing. In South Africa, this challenge is particularly prevalent, with a flat economy creating high levels of unemployment, which in turn, drives economic desperation.
A challenging reality
South African households have become poorer with rising inflation actively eroding disposable income and our ability to save. The consumer price index peaked at a 13-year high, surging to 7.8% year on year from 7.4% in June, and these figures are most likely conservative.
These increased pressures have resulted in a significant uptick in a variety of crime types, such as muggings, petty theft, house robbery, vehicle crimes, fraud and money laundering. It is virtually impossible to combat all these different crimes in silos; thus it becomes imperative to share resources, systems and intelligence across multi-disciplinary teams with the common objective of creating a community dedicated to mitigating the various risks.
Effective communities are formed around common causes – the word is derived from the Latin “Communitas” – referring to large group affiliations at either national or international levels, which may also include virtual communities.
The power of a positive attitude
We could carry on ad nauseam regarding the challenges that we have faced over the last few years with the increasing cost of living and poverty, increasing crime, serious infrastructure issues, load shedding, political corruption, Covid and so on. However, it is more pertinent to focus on the positive attitude of individuals in this country who are determined to survive and thrive, improving the environment in which we exist. Certainly, what we have seen within the insurance industry indicates a willingness to proactively protect what we have in this country.
Keeping a positive attitude will of course impact how you react to change and crisis. However, it requires more than a positive attitude to effect change. The benefit of a positive mental attitude is that it helps you think and come up with creative solutions. It is our responsibility to provide the consumer with innovative and available financial products, advice and even just support to mitigate risk and improve the quality of their future.
Role of the ICB
Since inception, The Insurance Crime Bureau has performed well, providing both significant financial returns to its members, with solid continuous growth, while also demonstrating a broader meaningful social impact.
Financial returns are easily measured by monitoring activities that have distinct monetary values – such as vehicles recovered or fraudulent claims mitigated through centrally based systems and investigations.
Social impact is quantified by analysing our “Return on Effort” which could include elements such as:
- Assisting law enforcement in investigations with no direct ROI or long lead times
- Arrests and convictions protecting the country from violent criminals
- Introducing technology-driven solutions to the industry
- Developing relations with legislators, law Enforcement, RTMC, NPA, etc.
- Facilitating industry projects with multiple stakeholders
- Communication, Networking & continual Training
Beyond the bottom line
The famous economist Milton Friedman said, that “the business of business was to do business and that an entity’s greatest responsibility lies in the satisfaction of the shareholders.” However, it has been established internationally that businesses have far greater responsibilities than mere profitability and to balance capitalism, the concept of ESG has been created – evaluating Environmental, Social and Governance risks and opportunities, and taking us beyond the scope of traditional financial analysis.
Simply put, as the insurance industry in South Africa, we have additional responsibilities to do more in terms of transformation, skills development, capacity creation and combating crime to effectively make a difference within the country.
To assist law enforcement in proactively combating crime, we are developing an intelligence division aimed at detecting and combating:
- Financial crimes, such as money mules, money laundering, terrorism funding and illicit acts
- Physical crimes, such as murder, kidnapping, human trafficking and missing people
The success of our centralised model is clearly demonstrated in the Insurance Crime Bureau’s 2022 Annual Report, which showcases the increased crime types and volumes, alongside extremely positive crime combat results, highlighting the tremendous effort from all our members and stakeholders.
As the Insurance Crime Bureau, our key focus for the 2023 year will be continued growth in this centralised model, resulting in a profound impact on South Africa as a community. We invite you to please interact with us and watch our social media for communication around some new, innovative ways you can make a difference in the community. And remember – if you see something, say something!