Life insurance evolves in a Covid-19 world

From cover for multi-organ failure, or personal cover you can change as your life changes, SA insurers are rethinking their product range.

Photo: National Cancer Institute  on Unsplash.

As the world learns to live with Covid-19, many norms are rapidly changing and the life insurance industry has not escaped unscathed. Insurance giants Discovery Life and Old Mutual recently launched new products introduced specifically as a result of Covid-19. 

As doctors around the globe learn new information about Covid-19 every day, it is now known to cause acute organ injury, which ultimately leads to multiple organ failure. Multiple organ failure is the failure of two or more systems, such as the cardiovascular and renal systems, and is a common consequence of sepsis (the presence of bacteria in the blood) and of shock (very low blood pressure). The organs most commonly affected are the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. 

The deputy CEO of Discovery Life, Gareth Friedlander, says traditionally, “life insurance cover for severe illnesses is assessed with a more siloed approach and generally covers things such as organ failure as a result of chronic conditions only”.

He says the shortfall of a siloed approach is that the impact on each body system in isolation may be insufficient, or may not be determined as permanent. “In either circumstance, this would result in a payment not being made to a client, even though the impact on their overall health is significant. After conducting research on how the illness can affect the body, we developed ways to enhance the level of protection people now need.” 

Multi-organ cover benefit 

Discovery Life clients with severe-illness cover can upgrade their cover to include a multi-organ benefit, which allows for tiered severity payments for claims, ranging between 50% and 100%. Your level of acute multi-organ failure at the time of a claim is assessed and, based on this, a payment percentage of up to 100% will be made as a lump sum. 

Friedlander says the benefit ensures you receive adequate cover for your care and treatment while in hospital. The benefit is intended to help cover unforeseen expenses that aren’t typically paid for by a medical aid plan or gap cover. “However, the claims category has a survival period of 14 days. This means that you must survive for 14 days from meeting the definition in order to claim. If you die within the first 14 days of meeting the criteria, your death benefit will pay out instead.”

Discovery Life’s chief medical officer Dr Maritha van der Walt says you cannot apply for this benefit during a Covid-19 infection. “However, once you recover and are tested negative, you can apply for a multi-organ benefit, as there are many other conditions that can lead to multi-organ failure.” 

As at August 4, SA recorded a cumulative total of 521,318 confirmed Covid-19 cases according to the department of health. The number of recoveries stood at 363,751, which translates to a recovery rate of almost 70%.

Personal cover you can build 

Old Mutual, on the other hand, has launched a personal cover range that allows you to build your insurance cover to suit your lifestyle and budget. Priya Naicker, head of strategic retail marketing at Old Mutual, says as society evolves with non-traditional and blended families, the company has identified a need for flexible personal life cover. The range includes life, funeral, disability, illness and future insurance. 

Future insurance allows you to be underwritten at your current age. This means that if you want to buy cover in the future, you can do so without going for medical tests and you pay a premium based on your current good health. Naicker notes that this allows you to circumvent potentially higher premiums or exclusions if your health deteriorates.

“We understand that circumstances, goals and ambitions change, and in line with that, you have the option to add and remove modules or extras as your budget and your needs shift,” she says. 

Approve your quote via cellphone 

Contactless interactions are the winner in today’s society and you can now approve your Old Mutual life insurance quote on your cellphone via USSD. This means you don’t need to go into an office, reducing personal contact. 

*This article was first published on Business Live.

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.


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