More than 2 000 insurance professionals attended the 27th instalment of the popular InsureTalk franchise on 27 October 2022. Host Christelle Colman opened proceedings by taking delegates back to 1998, when the internet was in its infancy and faxes reigned supreme! At the time, major risks were centred around socio-political issues and health – specifically smoking.

“Today’s world looks very different. Although people are still smoking, and young male drivers are still more prone to serious accidents than their female counterparts, global risks are far more prominent in our current times. Cyber risk is listed as one of the top three risks by the World Economic Forum – and it all started with the Y2K risk back in 1999/2000.

“Today’s top risk, of course, is climate change.”

The theme of InsureTalk27 was “The current state of cyber threats, emerging trends and how individuals and SMEs can mitigate against them.” Our headline sponsor for the session was Bryte, while our event partner was Global Choices.

The first speaker was head of claims and liabilities at Bryte, Christopher Appanah, whose talk was titled, “Liabilities, The potential liability of directors for corporate cyber breaches in South Africa.” He quoted form FBI director, Robert S Mueller III, “There are only two types of companies: Those that have been hacked and those that will be hacked.”

“There is no time that that statement has been more relevant than now,” Christopher said.

The average cost of a data breach in South Africa is around US$2.14 million – an amount which has certainly grown in the past two years.

“This could seriously cripple a company and might even result in its closure,” he said.

“If a severe corporate cyber breach occurs, then it’s likely that a third party will want to hold the company liable. And considering the legislated management duties of the directors to a company, the question arises as to whether the directors may be held liable for damages suffered by the company as a result of a corporate cyber breach.”

He outlined these duties – specifically those of care, skill and diligence – and concluded, based on principles applied in the USA, that it’s extremely difficult to prosecute directors for damages caused by a breach.

Garth de Klerk, CEO of the Insurance Crime Bureau, spoke on “Collectively putting a stop to insurance fraud and related crimes.” He highlighted the types of cyber crime and shared ways to spot fake emails, as well as how to prevent cyber crimes from affecting your business.

What do I have to do as an individual to protect myself?” he asked. “Because if I protect myself, I also protect the company and those around me.”

He encouraged delegates to consider their electronic fingerprints – a rough estimate is that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2030. Consider your car, your computer, phones, pads, TVs, fridges, watches, medical equipment, trackers, home security, cameras, solar systems… etc. Anything that can connect to the internet. You could have up to 10 devices that are constantly connected to the internet.

“Those devices are tracking you,” said Garth. “They are watching where you go, what you do, what you like, what you Google, what TV you watch… all these devices are profiling you as an individual.”

And they’re all prone to being hacked.

“When you get something at a discount or for free, you are the product!”

He highlighted the dangers of child trafficking, grooming and pornography, especially in the WFH environment.

Here’s some advice Garth shared at the end of his talk:

Next up was Thokozile Mahlangu, IISA CEO, who shared details of next year’s African Insurance Exchange conference, which will take place on 24 to 26 July, online and in person at Sun City. She encouraged delegates to make use of the “super early bird” rates, which are in force until 20 December 2022.


She encouraged everyone to join the IISA or upgrade their membership. Visit for more details.

After some fabulous entertainment, we heard from Macleod Burrill of Cyber Safe, who gave an outline of where the current threats are going in terms of cyber crime.

“SA is ranked sixth among the world’s most affected countries. Last year there were an average of 97 victims per hour!” he said.

Here’s an overview of the current landscape:

SMEs are particularly at risk, he said, due to lack of skill, prohibitive costs, lack of visibility into the efficacy of security controls, lack of context and the extreme nature of risks.

And here are some emerging trends:

He mentioned backups, regular software updates and risk assessments, employee awareness and cyber insurance as risk mitigation tools.

Sarel Lamprecht of Phishield unpacked the components of a typical cyber insurance policy, specifically for consumers and small businesses.

It’s now a case of if, but when you will be breached,” he said. “How you protect yourself is… what level of information do you share that you are happy to become public information?”

Sarel shared these slides, outlining the components of cyber insurance:

He raised some of the issues faced by modern solutions and suggested some of the ways companies can address these issues.

Tony van Niekerk of Cover magazine provided his traditional industry update. He spoke about brevity (being the soul of wit, according to Shakespeare). He told the story of Ernest Hemingway sitting in a pub, where he bet his drinking buddies that he could write a short story in six words. They took the bet. The next day he returned with these words: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

“It’s amazing how, with those six words, he can tell a story of environment, of history, of family and of people,” said Tony.

“Online attention span is just eight seconds! Half of all pages get viewed for less than 15 seconds.”

He encouraged delegates to bear that in mind when writing emails, brochures, advertising copy, etc. and to avoid using superfluous words, and spoke about the new Cover website, which focuses heavily on brevity.

Global Choices sponsored the last speaker of the day, Nikki Bush, who delivered a key note address before being joined in conversation by Global Choices founder and CEO, Wimpie van der Merwe. The topic for the session was “What If ‘what if’ Happens: The need for empathetic customer experience in insurance.”

Nikki and her family were victims of a home invasion in 2018, when her husband was murdered. She shared some deep insights into her life as a widow on the other side of trauma – typical of so many insurance industry clients. She called on the industry to handle clients’ losses with empathy, regardless of how big or small they may seem.

Nikki advised attendees to create a “what if” file containing all the life admin papers, certificates, policies, passwords, etc. that you might need to wrap up the life of someone who passes away. Here’s what she recommends putting in it:

Wimpie hooked into the broadcast at the end of Nikki’s talk.

“Nikki’s experience teaches us how important our role is in the insurance industry,” he said, referring to our role as a “noble purpose.”

“We don’t have a script in our call centre. We have empathy. A culture of empathy is a very important part of creating a good customer experience. We need to be aware of how people are feeling and connect with them on that basis.

“If you just follow a script, you lose that human touch, which is very important in everything we do.”

And with that, InsureTalk27 was a wrap.

InsureTalk28 takes place on 24 November 2022. You can register here. Attendance is free and carries 2.5 CPD hours.

If you’d like to watch the full recording of InsureTalk27, check it out below: