R162-million of COVID-19 related claims were paid by Sanlam Individual Life between March and August 2020; with over R17-million paid to clients for sickness and income protection benefits and over R144 million paid in death and funeral claims.
Petrie Marx, Product Actuary at Sanlam, says claims related to COVID-19 spiked during August. “In August alone, death and funeral claims related to Coronavirus were double the amount paid out for the period March to July. Similarly, claims for sickness or income protection that increased significantly in July, continued to rise further in August.”
Marx notes that these trends reflect the acceleration of the pandemic. “The increase in claims mirrors the peak of infections and deaths in July and August respectively.”
Early in the pandemic, Sanlam was swift to expand its criteria for eligible claims for COVID-19 to clients who returned from an overseas country, or who had direct contact with an individual who tested positive and had to self-isolate as a result.
Marx says that, while claims for fatalities were initially relatively low with most claims being for sickness and income protection, claims for death and funeral benefits more recently increased to make up the majority.
He explains that many clients were concerned about who would take care of their loved ones should they pass away; and worried about their ability to continue working and earning an income. “Having sufficient risk cover in place is critical to help mitigate these risks and concerns.”
In line with worldwide experience, more than 80% of total death and funeral claims were for individuals over the age of 50. On the other hand, the vast majority – 89% – of claims for sickness and income protection were for individuals younger than 50, reflecting the economically active population.
This was also reflected in the occupational breakdown, with a large number of pensioners succumbing to COVID-19, according to global stats. Claims for sickness and income protection were heavily skewed towards individuals in medical and health services. Death and funeral claims were weighed more towards male clients, again in line with worldwide experience for COVID-19, while slightly more women were affected by sickness and temporary inability to work.
Another interesting finding is that the majority of sickness and income protection claims were from Gauteng, as the economic hub of our country, whereas most death and funeral claims came from the Gauteng and Eastern Cape – also in a way a reflection of the national statistics .
“Behind each claim we pay out for COVID-19 and other conditions, is an individual or family for which these payments made a real difference. The COVID-19 pandemic has again made us aware of life’s risks and our own vulnerabilities, as well as the importance of ensuring that you are properly covered to have peace of mind that you can withstand such an unexpected health event in future,” concludes Marx.