For decades Lewis had a great money-spinning model, offering credit sales to low-income earners and loading their repayments with onerous insurance premiums and fees.The wheels started coming off when the National Credit Regulator (NCR) focused its attention on what was viewed as the exploitation of vulnerable consumers dependent on credit for big-ticket purchases.For Lewis the rot really set in when the NCR in July 2015 referred it to the national consumer tribunal. Through its Monarch Insurance business, Lewis was accused, among other things, of selling loss-of-employment cover as part of credit insurance to pensioners and self-employed consumers.Insurance was a big money-spinner for Lewis. In its year to March 2011, for example, Monarch’s premium income of R870m represented 17.9% of total income of R4.86bn, second only to finance income (R908m). That year Monarch’s claims ratio (claims paid as a percentage of premium income) was 23%, compared with Santam’s 63.9%.In September 2016...

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