Life assurers bust myths about policies, payouts and the Covid-19 vaccine

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and various life assurers have dismissed reports on social media alleging that your life insurance policy will be rendered “null and void” if you get the Covid-19 vaccine.

As the country grapples with the third Covid-19 wave and political unrest , the FSCA has reiterated that these allegations have no basis or merit and are leading to unnecessary fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Insurers champion vaccination as the way forward

Riaan van Reenen, chief executive officer of Discovery Life says the assurer recognises that vaccination is South Africa’s strongest possible defence to limit the future impact of COVID-19 and, as such, strongly encourages all policyholders to get vaccinated when eligible. “Whether a policyholder opts to have a COVID-19 vaccine or not, comprehensive cover on their respective plans will remain in place with all their contractual benefits and rewards. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will not negatively impact your policy. Discovery Life will not implement any claim exclusions on any of our available plans following a policyholder being vaccinated against COVID-19,” he confirms.

All the life assurers canvassed by DM were of the same opinion. Anton Keet, head of risk services at 1Life says the insurer would not apply any loadings on clients who were previously infected with Covid-19 and taking the vaccine would not invalidate a life insurance or funeral policy claim. However, he points out that depending on how severe the COVID-19 infection was or if any complications occurred, for example if you had to spend time in hospital as a result of COVID-19, a new policy application might be deferred for a certain period to allow you to fully recover before 1Life underwrites you or assesses your risk. “There are many uncertainties surrounding this disease. However, we can say that vaccination, for any disease, has never been a pre-requisite to get cover for a life policy with 1Life,” Keet says.

These sentiments were echoed by Dr Kerissa Naidoo, chief medical officer at Old Mutual. “To qualify for cover, you are assessed based on your health status at the time of your application. If you have made a full recovery from Covid-19 with no remaining symptoms or complications, you will be underwritten based on your general health risk profile. If you suffer any complications of Covid-19, or have complications due to other diseases, illnesses, or impacts on your health, you will be underwritten accordingly,” she says.

Dr Marion Morkel, chief medical officer at Sanlam, says getting a Covid-19 vaccine would absolutely not lead to a Sanlam life insurance policy being cancelled or a claim rejected. “We are firmly committed to the vaccine drive, and as a corporate citizen will assist government in the effective vaccine rollout within our communities. Sanlam is convinced that vaccination is an effective health tool to assist in flattening or even stopping this pandemic,” she says. She adds that the application of a new policy might be delayed until you recover from Covid-19, as with any other acute illness. “For all existing policy holders, there is no change to the premium or other terms and conditions. In addition, unless you have decided to change aspects of your policy or submitted a Covid-19 claim under one of your products, there is no requirement for existing policy holders to share their Covid-19 status with Sanlam,” she says.

Vaccine complications will not nullify your policy

Both Morkel and Lee Bromfield, chief executive of FNB Life indicated that valid life insurance policies would be honoured even if you die from complications after receiving the vaccine. “We will definitely pay out if someone dies from vaccine complications. FNB Life sees the vaccination programme as something which will lower the mortality rate of all customers and any insurer not paying in this circumstance is missing the bigger picture,” Bromfield adds.

Ingram says in the unlikely event that a claim is submitted where the COVID-19 vaccine is mentioned as a possible cause for the claim, Momentum Retail Life Insurance would continue to assess the claim on individual merit and against the terms, conditions and claim definitions relevant to the benefits on the policy contract, criteria of the claim and applicable waiting periods.

Vaccination could be an advantage going forward

“We are still globally in the throes of a pandemic that have enormous financial, societal and physical consequences. We know that during times of great need, the most creative solutions are born. There are many within the global insurance market that are now looking to see how products moving forward may be shaped by the lessons learned from the pandemic, so this is something to track in the next few years. No such changes are already in the pipeline, though,” Morkel says.

Although FNB Life does not have any plans to make vaccination a requirement to access insurance products, Bromfield says he does foresee circumstances where a vaccinated customer gets a lower premium or insurers don’t cover unvaccinated customers going forward.

Naidoo cautions that although getting a vaccine is not currently a requirement for any Old Mutual insurance products, Covid-19 is a novel coronavirus and “this approach may be reviewed as we learn more about it in the long term”.

*This article was first published in Daily Maverick.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *