Sirago entered the niche insurance market as SAFCAM in 1993 just before the birth of democracy. This was an exciting, but also uncertain time in the history of South Africa. Health insurance already formed part of the wider insurance categories, but solutions that covered medical expense shortfalls — or Gap Cover — were still deemed “excessive” and “unnecessary”.
Our head office was still based in the agricultural town of Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State, and unsurprisingly catered for a range of agricultural insurance products. However, the company also had a strong alignment with a medical scheme administrator through shareholding, and was one of the pioneers in the health insurance industry by including Gap Cover. Initially the growth was slow with a small distribution channel, as the need for this kind of solution was still not widely appreciated.
Our name changed from SAFCAM to Resolution Underwriters, indicating an even stronger alignment with the administrators, and our head office moved from Bethlehem to the country’s business hub in Gauteng. Since dipping our toes in Gap Cover, we now also offered unconventional products like Baby Bucks, Ghost Car and Wings of Life. However, with the necessity for Gap Cover solutions becoming increasingly evident, we increasingly focused our efforts on covering individuals and families for medical expense shortfalls, and growth started accelerating.
In 2010 our name changed to what we are known as today — Sirago Underwriting Managers (Pty) Ltd. By now we were sufficiently positioned in the retail space to challenge other Gap Cover providers. During this time co-payments and Gap Covers were still treated as two separate products, and Sirago became exclusive underwriters for Gap solutions only.
Our policyholder count had grown exponentially in recent years, and we have been named GENRIC’s UMA of the year in 2017 and 2019. Strategic development included changes in leadership, revised business strategies and restructuring. With regards to our products, we continue to focus on refining insurance solutions in our niche market. Our national network of broker consultants (BCs) have expanded and we have become a market disruptor in the Gap Cover arena. We are continuously adapting to the changing environment as demonstrated in the development of improved technology platforms and the continuous delivery of new products tailored to the evolving needs of the market.